The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II by Madeline Martin
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release Date: April 6, 2021
When Grace Bennett moves to London with her best friend Vivienne “Viv” Bailey in August of 1939, there is no way she can even begin to imagine how much not only her life is about to change – but how much the world is about to change as well!
Grace arrives in London full of hopes and dreams, she and her friend Viv, rent rooms from her late mother’s widowed friend, Mrs. Weatherford, and her grown son Colin. While Grace had high hopes of becoming a shop girl at Harrod’s, she had no written references, she instead gets a job at Primrose Hill Books, a small bookshop owned by Mr. Evans, due to the help of Mrs. Weatherford and even gains the promise of a referral letter after six months. Grace is not pleased, she is not a reader and while she has basic shop knowledge from working for her uncle, she knows nothing about books, which is made clear on her first day. She arrives to work, the shop is a mess, cluttered and unorganized, Mr. Evans clearly doesn’t want an employee, and Grace feels hopeless when a customer asks for help finding a book, but things begin to look up when another customer, a man named George comes to her rescue, and even suggests a book for her to read. She leaves the shop a bit more hopeful, but that changes later that evening when the radio announces the mobilization of the fleet – a sure sign that war is coming.
This book is not my normal genre, but having read this author’s historical romances, I was sure I would find a well-written, well-researched story with a strong heroine and an interesting story – and I was not wrong, but I was not prepared to be sucked into the story and held captive the way I was! While reading this book, I experienced a complete array of emotions – shock, pain, heartbreak, loss, wonder, hope, and love – I felt Grace’s struggles, her fears, her disappointments, her hope, her horror, and her joys – I watched her find an escape in reading and happiness in sharing her newfound love of reading with others. I finished this book with a new respect for not only the men and women who served in the military and sacrificed so much but also for those who fought on the Homefront – who were separated from their children, who made do with meager rations, who supported each other and never gave up hope. I loved this book and am so glad I decided to give it a go, it was wonderful, and can’t recommend it highly enough.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. *