It’s 1939 and Grace Bennett and her best friend Viv move to London to live with Mrs. Weatherford, a close family friend. Viv gets a job at Harrods but without any references, Grace is unable to join her friend working at the department store. To earn a letter of recommendation, she agrees to work for six months at Primrose Hill Books for Mr. Evans, a grumpy man who has let his shop become disorganized and unkempt. While Grace has never embraced books and reading, she is quickly able to clean up the shop and find ways to boost business. Soon England declares war on Germany and Londoners experience the nightmare of the Blitz. With Grace’s help, Primrose Hill Books becomes a bright light in the community as death and destruction is all around them.
The Last Bookshop in London is a moving homage to those who lived through the horror of the air raids and blackouts during this terrible time. And is also author Madeline Martin's celebration of books and the love reading. Grace becomes an avid reader and shares her love of books with the people around her. She reads aloud during the air raids to an audience needing an escape from all that is surrounding them. The magic of books was best expressed in the following passage, said to Grace from a man she meets in the bookstore after she asks him, “What do you like best about reading?”
“Reading is...It’s going somewhere without ever taking a train or ship, an unveiling of new, incredible worlds. It’s living a life you weren’t born into and a chance to see everything colored by someone else’s perspective. It’s learning without having to face consequences of failures, and how best to succeed. I think within all of us, there is a void, a gap waiting to be filled by something. For me, that something is books and all their proffered experiences.”
This engaging novel features a rich cast of characters who show remarkable resiliency during the worst of times. It demonstrates so well how people can come together and rebuild. And how books can make a difference.
Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: April 6, 2021.
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