The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted

Tom Hope doesn’t think he’s much of a farmer, but he’s doing his best. He can’t have been much of a husband to Trudy, either, judging by her sudden departure. It’s only when she returns, pregnant to someone else, that he discovers his surprising talent as a father. So when Trudy finds Jesus and takes little Peter away with her to join the holy rollers, Tom’s heart breaks a...

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Title:The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
Author:Robert Hillman
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted Reviews

  • Marianne

    “Do you see how things can turn out? Do you see that that the world is big enough to make certain things possible? That thirty-six years ago the German Student Union could hold a rally in Opernplatz, Berlin, and burn twenty-five thousand books, many written by Jews, the students rejoicing in their festival of loathing, and now this, in Hometown. Hannah’s bookshop of the broken hearted, a thing of beauty.”

    The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is a novel by award-winning Australian author, Robert Hil

    “Do you see how things can turn out? Do you see that that the world is big enough to make certain things possible? That thirty-six years ago the German Student Union could hold a rally in Opernplatz, Berlin, and burn twenty-five thousand books, many written by Jews, the students rejoicing in their festival of loathing, and now this, in Hometown. Hannah’s bookshop of the broken hearted, a thing of beauty.”

    The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted is a novel by award-winning Australian author, Robert Hillman. It was a new business that had opened on Ben Chifley Square in Hometown, Victoria, in the spring of 1969. The sign suspended from the awning said Hannah’s Bookshop, but in her own mind, Hannah Babel thought of it as The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, which is what was written on the small, hand-lettered Hebrew sign in the window.

    When Auschwitz and war’s aftermath took from her two husbands and her only son, a broken heart was Hannah’s lot. Leaving Budapest at least allowed her to avoid the reminders. It was something that farmer Tom saw fleetingly in her eyes when he came to help out with welding and shelving. Tom was almost an accidental farmer: he’d inherited his farm near Hometown from his bachelor Uncle Frank, having previously worked for the Tramways as a mechanic, welder and panel beater.

    But while farming wasn’t in his blood, he did well at it, caring more for his own sheep and fruit trees than his neighbours did theirs. Tom’s young wife, Trudy was a city girl who felt isolated and bored on the farm. It broke Tom’s heart the first time she left him, less than two years into their marriage. It wasn’t quite the same the second time she went; she’d found Jesus and left three-year-old Peter in Tom’s care. When she returned to take Peter away to the Pastor’s Church of Jesus Mercy, though, Tom wondered if the pain in his heart could get any worse.

    But now, here was Hannah. Older than him, and obviously a bit mad (a bookshop, in Hometown?), but so bright and cheerful; there was no denying the attraction. Was this a chance at happiness? Was that even possible while Peter was away against his will? Would Hannah ever reveal the depth of her own heart’s ache?

    Hillman tells his story through three narrative strands: Tom and Peter both relate events during the 1960s, while Hannah’s is a tale much-told, of the Jewish persecution during the war. He easily captures the era: popular songs and their singers; politics and current events; books, authors and publications; social attitudes like xenophobia; staid appetites and boring food choices all firmly cement this tale in the mid- to late sixties.

    Hillman populates his novel with a marvellous cast of characters, both major and minor: the socially awkward but utterly reliable farmer Tom; the flirty butcher, Juicy Collins; weak and shallow Trudy (who eventually grows a spine); the well-organised CWA ladies; the laconic farmers; the pop-idol-obsessed teens; and the newcomer, Hannah, determined to get the town reading; each is believable and easy to imagine in a small Victorian country town. It’s a community ready with criticism, opinions and, when it matters most, support and caring, in equal measure.

    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. Text Publishing offers a Great Read Guaranteed or your money back, but this is such a wonderful, moving read that it is unlikely they’ll need to give many refunds.

  • Donna Davis

    This quixotic little book had me at hello. Set in Australia in the 1960s, it tells a story of love, loss, and redemption in a way that I’ve never seen anywhere from anybody. I’ve finished reading other books since I finished this one, and yet I am still thinking about Tom Hope.

    Huge thanks go to Net Galley and Putnam Penguin for the review copy. It will be available to the public April 9, 2019.

    At the outset, Tom’s last name seems cruelly ironic, because the guy can’t seem to catch a break. Trud

    This quixotic little book had me at hello. Set in Australia in the 1960s, it tells a story of love, loss, and redemption in a way that I’ve never seen anywhere from anybody. I’ve finished reading other books since I finished this one, and yet I am still thinking about Tom Hope.

    Huge thanks go to Net Galley and Putnam Penguin for the review copy. It will be available to the public April 9, 2019.

    At the outset, Tom’s last name seems cruelly ironic, because the guy can’t seem to catch a break. Trudy, his perpetually dissatisfied wife, up and leaves him with no warning and no discussion. Just takes off. Tom is heartsick, but a ranch is still a ranch, and so he woodenly goes through all of the tasks—milk the cow, herd the woolies—that must be done. He is such a sad fellow, and he berates himself for not having done more to make that woman happy and comfortable. The ranch is not long on frills; an indoor shower would be nice, and a big old bathtub would be even better.

    He actually makes lists.

    But then one day Trudy comes back. She’s been gone for a whole year, and now she’s pregnant. Say what?

    When Tom takes her back, I look at the things he has said and done and wonder whether he is maybe a little on the simple side. But just as the question takes hold in my mind, we hear people in town talking about him. One of them tells another that after all, Tom Hope is not a stupid man. And so again I wonder why he lets her back in the house. But he does. He welcomes her. Sssh, he says to her self-recriminations, don’t worry about it. You’re back now.

    Trudy has the baby, and then Jesus calls her and she leaves again—without the baby. So there’s Tom. You can see what I mean about that last name. Hope? What good has hope done for him so far? He’s stuck raising an infant while he runs a ranch, and it’s exhausting, nearly impossible, but he adores this little boy that isn’t his, just loves him for years, right up until the time Trudy decides that Jesus has called Peter to come to the religious compound with her.

    So when the flamboyant Hannah, a woman older than himself, a Hungarian immigrant, comes to town and decides she likes the looks of Tom, all I can think is, thank goodness. Let the poor man have a life post-Trudy and post-Peter. There’s nothing like a fresh start. But Hannah comes with baggage of her own, a refugee who’s experienced the horror of Auschwitz.

    Before I requested access to this novel, the Holocaust reference in the description very nearly kept me away. Younger readers less familiar with this historical war crime need to know about it. The survivors are mostly dead and gone, and there are revisionists trying to deny it, or to say that stories of it are greatly exaggerated. So yes, there’s a need for its inclusion in new literature, and yet I feel as if I have had my fill. But the other piece of it—Tom, the ranch, the child, the romance—won the day, and I am so glad I decided to go for it. And indeed, it’s not a Holocaust story; instead, we see how the horror through which Hannah has lived informs her present day choices.

    So yes, Hannah is an interesting character, and the bookshop is hers, but the story is really about Tom. One heartache after another comes his way, and he deals with every single one uncomplainingly, telling those that love him that he’s fine. Really. At times I want to push my way into the pages to say to him, what the hell? Go ahead and throw some dishes or something. You are entitled to your anger. But instead, he forges stolidly on, not because he is free of pain—we can tell that he isn’t—but because there’s no use in burdening others as well. And as one violent act after another works its way into his experience, the story builds, and builds some more, and we have to wonder when he will draw the line and say, that’s it. Enough. And the way Tom develops from the outset to the end is so resonant, so believable.

    This novel is one of the warmest, most affectionately told stories that I have read in a long time. It’s never mawkish or overly sentimental; Hillman strikes the perfect balance. I would read more of his work in a heartbeat, and I highly recommend it to you. If you can find it at a discount, that’s great, but if you have to pay full cover price, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Fran

    Tom Hope awakens at 4 AM daily to milk the cows and then check on the woolies. The Australian farm he owns in the small town of Hometown, Victoria was an inheritance. Tom is quiet and soft spoken, awkward with people. His steady companion is his dog, an old heeler named Beau. Tom has discovered "...what a hit-or-miss business it was being married." His second wife Trudy, a city girl unhappy with farm life, abandoned him. One year later, Trudy resurfaced, pregnant by another man. Tom took her bac

    Tom Hope awakens at 4 AM daily to milk the cows and then check on the woolies. The Australian farm he owns in the small town of Hometown, Victoria was an inheritance. Tom is quiet and soft spoken, awkward with people. His steady companion is his dog, an old heeler named Beau. Tom has discovered "...what a hit-or-miss business it was being married." His second wife Trudy, a city girl unhappy with farm life, abandoned him. One year later, Trudy resurfaced, pregnant by another man. Tom took her back agreeing to raise the child. "...the sense of failure that troubled him [Tom] became too much to bear: not much of a farmer, poor husband, but he'd made a good job of being a father." While little Peter felt his mother's lack of love and affection, he called for Tom, ''...the man who was not his father."

    Farming became even more challenging when Trudy departed again leaving three year old Peter with Tom. Tom had to supervise the small boy but still shear his sheep. When milking the cows, Beau served as the babysitter. Peter is now five years old, has his school uniform ready, and is prepared for his first day of school. Trudy arrives and whisks her son away. She has joined a cult. Tom has no legal rights. He is not Peter's father. Both Tom and Peter are brokenhearted.

    A trip to town to combat sheer loneliness holds a surprise for Tom. A vacant store is being turned into a bookshop. Hannah Babel, bookshop owner and a Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivor, is determined to succeed. "...you could probably claim that not a half dozen people in Hometown had ever opened the cover of a book and get [got] away with it." Hannah undeterred said, "They will read. They will come to Madame Babel. Don't worry." She hired Tom to build shelves to hold her voluminous stock of books for sale. She admired his expertise in carpentry. "Hannah...was interested in him...He had never before in his life been made to feel interesting." "He had accepted that Hannah was a fruitcake. It didn't ruin his liking for her..." He was in love! However, "...he grasped that she was suffering...that huge smile...but she was suffering."

    The three main protagonists in this tome, time and again, experience unspeakable loss and are brokenhearted. Tom is in love with Hannah but sometimes "every trace of tenderness had left her." In May 1944, Hannah, husband Leon and three year old son, Michael were rounded up and taken to Auschwitz. Hannah has vowed never to love a child again. Peter and Tom have an amazingly strong bond. Risks taken by Peter are to no avail. What is to become of these damaged souls?

    "The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted" by Robert Hillman encompasses a myriad of deep feelings, feelings of love, loss and the beauty of the land. A heartfelt read. Tissues required. Highly recommended.

    Thank you First to Read and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review "The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted".

  • *TUDOR^QUEEN*

    Thank you to Penguin Publishing Group for providing an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.

    The success of this story hinges upon the appealing character of Tom Hope. The story takes place in a farming community in Australia called Hometown. Tom lives and works on the farm left to him by his Uncle Frank. Tom's good at a lot of things, but most of all, he's a good man. He can cook a wonderful breakfast and dinner, but can also build bookshelves, raise bountiful crops, tend to the "woolies" (sheep) a

    Thank you to Penguin Publishing Group for providing an advance reader copy via Edelweiss.

    The success of this story hinges upon the appealing character of Tom Hope. The story takes place in a farming community in Australia called Hometown. Tom lives and works on the farm left to him by his Uncle Frank. Tom's good at a lot of things, but most of all, he's a good man. He can cook a wonderful breakfast and dinner, but can also build bookshelves, raise bountiful crops, tend to the "woolies" (sheep) and other livestock with more of a caring heart than most. And when his wife Trudy suddenly leaves him and just as suddenly comes back...and confesses that she's pregnant by another man...Tom summons his quiet strength and does what his heart tells him to do...the right thing. He raises the little boy Peter as if he's his own, and he loves him just as much anyway. When Trudy leaves him for a second time, she leaves the boy behind for Tom to raise. It seems impossible how Tom's going to run the farm by himself while also watching a little boy, but they both thrive within their idyllic world of love. Then Trudy suddenly comes back again, having joined some kind of religious commune, demanding her boy back.

    Now Tom is alone, and when he delves into town to visit the general store he's hoping to avoid the questions on the minds of the watchful (but caring) neighbors in this close-knit farming community. Then Tom notices that a store on on the end of the shopping strip that never does well once again has a new occupant. He's intrigued by a paper affixed to the front door in the Hebrew language. Translated into English, it reads: "To the God of the Hopeless, Bless this shop." It was to be a bookshop, and the very attractive but quirky Hannah Babel was its proprietress. She always dressed to the nines as if on a modelling runway, and at forty-five and with just a touch of gray, she was still stunning.

    Tom receives a note on the farm from Hannah requesting him to do some work on the bookshop, such as hanging the sign and building some bookshelves. It's clear from the start Hannah finds Tom quite attractive, and with her preening, touchy-feely flirtations, they soon become lovers.

    The conflict simmering in Hannah's past is that she is a Holocaust survivor of Auschwitz. The horrors she experienced are so painful that she cannot speak of it. She lost her husband and little boy Michael in WWII. She is very strong and a survivor, but she cannot share this part of herself with Tom. Once Tom becomes romantically involved with Hannah, there are dueling chapters of the past and present where we experience the atrocities of the Holocaust with Hannah. I must admit that I was troubled reading the WWII retrospective chapters of Hannah and did not find these enjoyable, though they obviously were intrinsic to this story.

    Will Peter ever be returned to Tom? Will Tom and Hannah marry? Will Hannah's unbearable pain of losing her own son prevent her from opening her heart to another child? Follow the story yourself to its intensely emotional but satisfying conclusion.

  • marilyn

    This story starts in 1968 Australia, with Tom Hope grieving his wife Trudy, who left him. Later Trudy comes back, pregnant by another man and Tom takes her back. Trudy has no love for her son Peter but Tom loves the boy as if he were his own, raising him for three years, while Trudy is still with him, and then for two more years, after Trudy leaves him again, alone to raise Peter. For Peter, Tom is his father and he loves Tom with all his heart. Then Trudy takes the boy and Tom's heart is broken

    This story starts in 1968 Australia, with Tom Hope grieving his wife Trudy, who left him. Later Trudy comes back, pregnant by another man and Tom takes her back. Trudy has no love for her son Peter but Tom loves the boy as if he were his own, raising him for three years, while Trudy is still with him, and then for two more years, after Trudy leaves him again, alone to raise Peter. For Peter, Tom is his father and he loves Tom with all his heart. Then Trudy takes the boy and Tom's heart is broken, not for Trudy who he has no love for anymore but for Peter, the boy he loves as much as he could love his own blood. Peter's heart is broken too, the place he is taken is not a good place and he dreams of being with Tom again.

    Into Tom's life comes Hannah, 12 years older than him, survivor of Auschwitz and other horrors. All of Hannah's relatives died during the persecution of her people and Hannah, although she survived, can never forget what she saw, heard, knew of those times. Heartbreaking losses that have have affected her mental and emotional health. She vows to never love another child after losing her own boy, the first day at Auschwitz.

    Hannah and Tom fall in love despite having to deal with Hannah's moods which are more than moods. They are really black spells when she is lost to Tom, as she relives past horrors. This story is a slow story and it's telling is in a different style than most stories. It almost feels as if we are in Tom's thoughts or Hannah's thoughts and sometimes some of the words get past me but I liked this book a lot. There is so much sadness and death and as strong of a man as Tom is, I had to wonder if losing Peter and being married to Hannah, was going to break Tom.

    I know this book won't be for everyone but I liked it. I liked the people, the good people, not the religiously obsessed crackpot people that Peter was sent to live with. I also dreaded the parts of the book with animal death but I know that comes with living on a farm so it had its place in the book. I felt for the people in this book, especially for Tom and Peter and for Hannah too, who lost everything, including her mind but still could imagine good things happening.

    Thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Putnam and NetGalley for this ARC.

  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Tom was shy, Trudy wasn't happy.

    Trudy left Tom, came back pregnant, left again without her son, Peter, then came back again to take Peter away. Taking Peter away devastated Tom because he grew to love Peter and was the main caregiver even though he wasn't Peter's father.

    Tom decided he had to move on with his life since he was only thirty three, and he found Hannah to help with that. Hannah moved a bit too fast for Tom, but it all worked out.

    Tom was shy, Hannah was bolder. Tom had tragedy in his

    Tom was shy, Trudy wasn't happy.

    Trudy left Tom, came back pregnant, left again without her son, Peter, then came back again to take Peter away. Taking Peter away devastated Tom because he grew to love Peter and was the main caregiver even though he wasn't Peter's father.

    Tom decided he had to move on with his life since he was only thirty three, and he found Hannah to help with that. Hannah moved a bit too fast for Tom, but it all worked out.

    Tom was shy, Hannah was bolder. Tom had tragedy in his life, but nothing like Hannah's. Hannah had been in Auschwitz and had lost her husband and son in the camp.

    Hannah was a very interesting character and a perfect match for Tom. They both had their talents, and they both complimented each other and taught each other different things until Hannah's moods became worse.

    THE BOOKSHOP OF THE BROKENHEARTED moved along slowly but was an interesting read. We learned about Auzchwitz and the life Hannah lived after she was free, how it all affected Hannah and her moods, and how her intensity about love, Tom, and her life was based on those experiences.

    We learned about farm life and how lonely Tom's life was and how Hannah brought new things into his life such as books. We learned how Hannah made Tom happy because she gave him compliments about everything he did and filled his lonely days even though Hannah had her dark days that made Tom's days difficult.

    I enjoyed the eccentric characters and the different story lines going on at once even though a few of the story lines were a bit intense. The characters had some quirky, and at times dangerous habits, but the characters were easy to like except for a few.

    The author's writing style was fluid, easy, and pulled me in. I do have to say the book was a bit odd at times and difficult to follow.

    THE BOOKSHOP OF THE BROKENHEARTED had many feelings going on...heartbreak, tragedy, loving someone even when they weren't lovable, and being hopeful for happiness in it all.

    ENJOY if you read this book. 4/5

    This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  • Pauline

    Tom is a farmer and lives outside a small town in Australia, he has been unlucky in love and his wife has left him. When his wife returns he finds out that she is pregnant with another mans child. Tom brings this child up as his own and loves the boy dearly.

    After his wife goes away for a second time Tom meets Hannah a survivor of Auschwitz and the new owner of the towns bookshop he finds love again.

    I really like the character Tom and his son Peter and very much enjoyed this book.

    I would like to

    Tom is a farmer and lives outside a small town in Australia, he has been unlucky in love and his wife has left him. When his wife returns he finds out that she is pregnant with another mans child. Tom brings this child up as his own and loves the boy dearly.

    After his wife goes away for a second time Tom meets Hannah a survivor of Auschwitz and the new owner of the towns bookshop he finds love again.

    I really like the character Tom and his son Peter and very much enjoyed this book.

    I would like to thank NetGalley and Faber & Faber for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Lisa Wolf

    Rounding up from 3.5 stars.

    First of all, let's be clear, while the title refers to a bookshop, this novel isn't particularly about the bookshop. There's a whole subgenre of bookstore fiction, sure to warm the hearts of booklovers everywhere. This isn't one of those books.

    Set in Australia,

    tells the story of Tom, a lonely man who's been unlucky in love. Tom is a sheep farmer who lives a contented, quiet life, until his wife Trudy deserts him and takes away Peter

    Rounding up from 3.5 stars.

    First of all, let's be clear, while the title refers to a bookshop, this novel isn't particularly about the bookshop. There's a whole subgenre of bookstore fiction, sure to warm the hearts of booklovers everywhere. This isn't one of those books.

    Set in Australia,

    tells the story of Tom, a lonely man who's been unlucky in love. Tom is a sheep farmer who lives a contented, quiet life, until his wife Trudy deserts him and takes away Peter, the son of his heart if not his body. When Tom meets Hannah, it's like he gets a new ray of sunshine in his life, and the two form a passionate, unbreakable bond. But Hannah's past haunts her in ways Tom can't quite understand, and when Peter reenters their lives, it may be more than Hannah can stand.

    The story is truly affecting in parts, and I came to love Tom quite a lot. He's sweet and good and loving, although he does seem to allow himself to roll with the punches rather than standing up to the people and events that hurt him. Tom's relationship with Peter is lovely, so when he's taken away, it is a heart-breaking development. The story of Peter's experiences at "Jesus Camp" is horrible -- he's essentially trapped there by a mother who's caught up in pastor's cult-like community, and I was really upset by Peter's suffering and the length of time it takes for him to finally be rescued.

    We hear about Hannah's past through chapters scattered throughout the book that show her experiences in the concentration camp and the years afterward. Of course, she's deserving of great sympathy, but there are times with Tom and Peter that's it hard to like her.

    Overall, this is a quiet and moving book. I loved the descriptions of Tom's farm and the Australian setting and landscapes. The writing is slow and underspoken, with a brevity that somehow makes the emotion harder to access at times.  The juxtaposition of ranch life in Australia and memories of the Holocaust makes for an unusual mix, but it works.

    is an unusual work of historical fiction, definitely worth checking out.

  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*

    The setting takes place in Australia and the year is 1968, twenty four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. The book also goes to the past about the horror of what happened to her and her little boy in the concentration camps.

    Tom Hope is a farmer. His wife Trudy leaves him and he is so broken hearted. He really loved her. She then comes back to him after she is pregnant by another man. Then she decides to leave him again to go to the Jesus camp.

    The setting takes place in Australia and the year is 1968, twenty four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. The book also goes to the past about the horror of what happened to her and her little boy in the concentration camps.

    Tom Hope is a farmer. His wife Trudy leaves him and he is so broken hearted. He really loved her. She then comes back to him after she is pregnant by another man. Then she decides to leave him again to go to the Jesus camp. She takes her son with her and Tom was the perfect father for Peter. My heart ached for him.

    Then there is Hannah Babel who owns a book shop in the town.

    I really loved this book and I am loving this genre more and more. This one is a dark one. I didn't care for the book shop parts in the book, if you want to read this one because you think it's about a bookshop then this one is not for you. This one is more for historical fiction lovers, and I think thriller fans might enjoy this too.

    It did have a slow burn in the beginning but after about 20 % the book picks up and I couldn't put it down after that. I loved the characterization of the characters. They were very well developed. My heart went out for Hannah. It tore at my heartstrings. She went through so much horror at the concentration camp at Auschwitz. I thought she ended up being a strong woman, since she had so much baggage. My favorite character was Tom. My heart ached for him. He was a good man. I loved Peter, Trudy's son. Of course I hated the pastor and the pastor's wife and really disliked Trudy. I fell in love with some of the characters but there were unlikable characters too. There were a lot of broken hearted characters.

    This one was an emotional read and tore at my heartstrings. I had so many different feelings and I thought the ending was so uplifting. It really made me feel good inside. It was such a beautiful loving ending. It was just the perfect ending.

    This was a Traveling Sister read and it is always fun to discuss a book that you love.

    I want to thank Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing, for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)

    I am a sucker for any books that take place in, around or about a bookshop. I also seem to be on an “Australian roll” having recently read Jane Harper’s “The Lost Man”. In the end, however, this book wasn’t anything that I had envisioned.

    There are definitely broken hearts in the story but not that much about the bookshop. Tom Hope is an Australian farmer and has had some terrible times mainly because of his choice in partners. He is a pretty quiet guy and when he meets Trudy who is young, vivaci

    I am a sucker for any books that take place in, around or about a bookshop. I also seem to be on an “Australian roll” having recently read Jane Harper’s “The Lost Man”. In the end, however, this book wasn’t anything that I had envisioned.

    There are definitely broken hearts in the story but not that much about the bookshop. Tom Hope is an Australian farmer and has had some terrible times mainly because of his choice in partners. He is a pretty quiet guy and when he meets Trudy who is young, vivacious and pretty, he is surprised that she will even look at him. They date, fall in love (well at least Tom does) and get married but within a few years Trudy is fed up with the farming life and wants more out of life, and one day just leaves. Tom is heartbroken. Within a year she comes back to Tom, pregnant with another man’s child and Tom takes her back. There is a lot of coming back in this book! I won’t go through the entire plot with Trudy as there is another woman we must focus on.

    Hannah was a hard character for me to understand or to even relate to in any way. She was a Holocaust survivor who has had her heart broken as she lost both her husband and son at Auschwitz. When she survives the camp she decides that Australia might be the best place to settle. She moves to the small town where Tom lives and decides to start a bookshop, she hires Tom to build shelves for her. Tom, not yet quite over Trudy, begins to have feelings for Hannah. It is never really clear to me why but Hannah is very clearly pursuing Tom, maybe it is because he is settled and a good man? That’s a question that still remains in my mind. After only a few months, they marry.

    Some happy years pass but then Peter, Tom’s adopted son, is finally returned to him from Trudy and the “Jesus Camp” where he had been living.The circumstances surrounding this, how his mother was able to take Peter away, I will leave for you to discover. This sort of came out of nowhere for me. Now there is the decision to be made, Can Hannah who lost her own little boy, come to care about Peter???? She has many questions she has to answer for herself and more explaining to do to Tom.

    I never quite connected to any of the characters in this book. Trudy was just a user of people, anything to get what she thought she wanted. With Hannah, I was never sure, even at the end how much she loved Tom or if this is just the life that she wants to live. Tom comes across as a good but weak man, he keeps taking these women back even after they have left him, one several times.

    This was a slow read for me. I did better when I was reading this for just a couple of hours and then coming back to it the next day. It is not a happy book, in many places it is extremely sad. I’m not sure about the message that the author was trying to convey with this book. I felt as though I was deeply entrenched with one story line only to be pulled away while Hannah relives her past life in Auschwitz and even before. I felt as though these two stories were only connected by the characters and definitely not because there were any similarities in the lives that Hannah and Tom had lived so far. I was also surprised that Tom would marry a woman so much older than him, who has already told him she will not have any more children. Tom knew how much he loved Peter and having a child around.

    I think the writing in this book is excellent with great descriptions of the land, the town and the residents. This book will be published on April 9, 2019. I will look forward to the next book from this talented author. This is a Traveling Sister read.

    I received a copy of this ARC from the publisher through Edelweiss.

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