Interesting tale and realistic cast of characters. All the individuals were well drawn and set in real life situations. The love affair between Hannah and Tom was touching and emotionally absorbing. They were far from similar but you could feel how they finally came together. With prospects of a good future seemingly sorted out in the end, this book had a satisfying finish. A book I enjoyed and would recommend.
I feared a light romance but, in fact, got a slightly deeper story than expected. I’d recommend it as a light holiday read for someone who doesn’t want overly light chick lit or the now ubiquitous “move to/back to a new community.”
I leave this novel longing for more. The blending of heartbreak, evil, pure decency and love - and the writing, one minute lyrical, the next chucklingly dry and, for me, so original. What a great writer Robert Hillman is.
Tom Hope doesn't chase rainbows. He does his best on the farm - he milks the cows, harvests the apples, looks after the sheep - but Tom's been lonely since his wife Trudy left, taking little Peter with her to go join the holy rollers.
Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic smalltown bookseller: the second Jew - and the most vivid person - Tom has ever met. When she asks him to move in, and help her build Australia's most beautiful bookshop, Tom dares to believe they could make each other happy.
But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a battle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.
Robert Hillman beautifully told this story through three different narrative strands. He delightfully captured the era, from the popular songs to politics and current events, books, authors and social attitudes to mention just a few. All of these firmly cemented this tale in the 1960s.
Populated with a stupendous cast of characters, both primary and peripheral and from the reliable, determined and well-organised to the socially awkward, shallow and brusque, each was believable and easy to imagine in a small Victorian country town.
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is packed with love and laughter, guilt and grief, cruelty and kindness, all brilliantly executed by Robert Hillman in terrific descriptive prose. A wonderful and extremely worthwhile read.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel at my own request from Faber and Faber Ltd via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
An enjoyable read. I am always drawn to books about books and bookshops, and also those set in Australia in the Sixties, so this was perfect for me in that respect. In fact, the bookshop doesn't feature heavily but that doesn't matter.
Tom Hope is a reluctant farmer whose wife, Trudy, leaves him to look after another man's child. He comes to love the boy, Peter, and is broken hearted when, after a few years, Trudy claims him back and takes him to live with the cult she belongs to.
Tom then meets Hannah, the flamboyant bookshop owner and they begin a relationship. When Peter runs away from the cult and comes back to the farm, Hannah tells Tom that if he comes back to stay she will have to leave. Trudy demands Peter's return anyway, but Tom is saddened by Hannah's attitude.
There are flashbacks to show why she thinks this way. Being Jewish, she and her family were sent to Auschwitz. The horrors that unfolded there have coloured her attitude to life forever.
Can Tom and Hannah ever be at peace within their relationship? What if Peter does come home?
These questions are sensitively answered in this novel of heartache, horror and hope.
*Trigger warning for child abuse* This isn’t a light, easy read by any means. Hannah has lost her entire family, including her husband and only child, to Auschwitz, and Tom has lost his wife not once but twice, the second time with her son Peter who Tom had raised since his birth. Can these two wounded souls ever find the happiness they both deserve or will their pasts continue to haunt them? Are they even capable of getting the happy ending they both deserve? The author's writing style was fluid, easy, and pulled me in. This is a story with love and laughter, guilt and grief, cruelty and kindness. Several characters display amazing resilience. All this is wrapped in beautiful descriptive prose. This is such a wonderful, moving read!
Please visit the Bookstore of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman. You will not be disappointed!
Thank you to NetGalley, Robert Hillman and Faber and Faber Ltd for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
This is a book about continuing in the aftermath; about how the trees continue to grow and evolve despite being stripped to their bare trunks.
Hannah "mad", amazing and determined is one whose journey and culture is not understood by the residents of Hometown in Australia. Wherever she is, she never blends in but is somehow accepted throughout every chapter of her necessary travels. She takes us through the trauma of existing as a Jew in Nazi occupied Europe both in concentration camps and then the chaos and unpredictability of the post war days and months. Hannah is a survivor.
Tom is a farmer who in in love but been abandoned by his wife, Trudy, who then returns pregnant with another man's child. Tom loves Peter; biology is not an issue to him. Trudy takes Peter away.
Hannah meets Tom. Their love story is considered unlikely but it is beautiful. Can Hannah deal with Peter when he returns? Will he remind her too much of what she lost at Auschwitz?
This is a beautifully written tale of love and loss. The language is precisely manoeuvred to ensure that the reader feels the raw emotion. This book is superb. Please read it.