After making it through 84 years, several generations and the bombing of an English family home, a classic novel has been returned to the library where it belongs.
Paddy Riordan found the copy of Richard Jefferies’ Red Deer while he was cleaning out his mother’s home late last year, and decided against throwing the tattered book away.
Instead, he discovered it was a library book that had been taken out on a load, and decided to return it a mere 30,695 days late.
The father-of-two popped back into the Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library with the outrageously overdue book to hand it back to its rightful home.
But being a numbers man, Paddy wasn’t content to simply return the book, as he also whipped up a spreadsheet to work out how much he owed for the overdue fee.
Luckily for him, the tardiness penalty was set at one penny per day, a weightier sum at the time but which when converted into decimal currency came to a grand total of just £18.27 ($32.68), which he donated to the library.
“I’ve seen one or two people who’ve worked out that at the current rate of fines, if I was paying at the current rate, it should be over £7000 that I would be paying,” he jokes.
“So I may need to be careful not to visit Coventry for a number of years hence.”
He thinks the book must have been hired for his mother, Anne, who was just six on October 11, 1938, when it was first checked out, but has no idea what “nefarious reasons” his grandfather, Captain William Southey-Harrison, may have had for not returning the book.
“I’m not too sure why my grandfather didn’t return the book but in 1940, during one night of the Blitz, the family lost the house,” he tells 9news.com.au.
“But somehow in the rubble (they) clearly found the book, which has remained sort of with family possessions ever since.”
Lucy Winter, the library’s community engagement coordinator, is just as surprised by the enthusiasm her quick Facebook post has generated.
“Here’s something you don’t see every day… a copy of Red Deer by Richard Jefferies has been returned to us – a mere 84 years and two weeks overdue!” she wrote.
“How wonderful that the book has finally made its way home!”
Image credits: Earlsdon Carnegie Community Library
This article first appeared on OverSixty.