Winner of Australia's National Biography Award in 2005 for his memoir, The Boy in the Green Suit, and coauthor of 2013's folkloric The Honey Thief, Hillman offers a book-about-books novel featuring lonely Australian farmer Tom Hope, abandoned by a cheating wife, who starts to sparkle again when ebullient Hannah Babel arrives from Hungary in 1968 with plans to open little Hometown's first bookshop. But Hannah carries a burden from the past; she was an inmate at Auschwitz. Interest is building. Kelly, Martha Hall. Lost Roses. Ballantine. Apr. 2019. 448p. ISBN 9781524796372. $28; ebk.
Hillman (The Boy in the Green Suit) offers an uplifting exploration of how people rise above tragedy to find joy. It’s 1968 in an Australian backwater town, and Tom Hope’s wife, Trudy, has disappeared, only to return a year later, pregnant with another man’s child. Tom grows to love the boy, Peter, but then Trudy abandons both when Peter is almost three, returning two years later to take her son from Tom and, shortly thereafter, send him divorce papers. After Hannah Babel—who survived Auschwitz but lost her entire family, including her husband and young son, to the concentration camps—comes to town, she hires Tom to fix up the bookstore she’s set on running, and the two of them—he, a calm workman, she an older, feisty intellectual—each with their separate anguish, find common ground and marry. Then Peter, still a child, reappears in Tom’s life, forcing Hannah to question whether she could allow herself to love another child, and Tom to potentially have to choose between his marriage and his love for the boy he considers a son. Hillman’s novel is an impressive, riveting tale of how two disparate and well-drawn people recover from soul-wrenching grief and allow themselves to truly love again. Agent: David Forrer, InkWell Management. (Apr.)
Gentle, emotive, and written with great affection for its beautifully-rendered characters, The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted reminds us of the redemptive power of sharing our stories. I will remember this novel for a long time to come.”—Steven Rowley, author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor
“Reminds us how the reverberations of war can reach people in the unlikeliest of places....A poignant journey of unthinkable loss, love, and the healing capacity of the written word.”—Ellen Keith, author of The Dutch Wife
“Every character in this story stole my heart, even the minor ones, including the sheep! There is wonderful, laugh-out-loud humor in these pages, there is anguish, there is frustration. But most of all there is hope and humanity. When I finished reading the book, I wept, not because I was sad, but because the story was so uplifting and so true, in the deepest sense of that word.”—Elizabeth Berg, author of The Story of Arthur Truluv
“A complex exploration of grief, faith, and restoration...in poignant, meditative, and stirring prose Hillman tells a heartrending and heartwarming tale of love and sacrifice.”—Booklist(starred review)
“The compassion and grace that suffuse this novel are rarely captured in such beautiful language...I was enthralled.”—Patti Callahan Henry, author of The Bookshop at Water's End
“What a brave and beautiful book this is, about all the human ways to heal a broken heart through unexpected love, resilient family, and, of course, timeless books.”—Liam Callanan, author of Paris By the Book
“Hillman crafts a compelling tale, toggling among Tom's, Hannah's, and Peter's perspectives, as he delineates the stripping of each heart and draws together the ties that bind them together again. A heart-wrenching tale of love enduring all things in the face of evil.”—Kirkus Reviews
“A beautifully written, nuanced tale of three lost souls who find in one another the comfort and solace they each need. I loved this disarmingly affecting novel. Read it and let it touch your soul as it has touched mine.”—Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain and A Sudden Light
“Hillman is a storyteller of such spell-binding skill that readers will desire nothing more than to curl up in a quiet corner and devour this wise, warm, and transporting novel in one sitting.”—Meg Donohue, author of Dog Crazy and Every Wild Heart
“Beautifully rendered, captivating and tender. I want to visit this bookshop.”—Jean E. Pendziwol, author of The Lightkeeper’s Daughters
“A gorgeous, heartfelt gem of a novel.”—Jillian Cantor, author of In Another Time
“An uplifting exploration of how people rise above tragedy to find joy...An impressive, riveting tale of how two disparate and well-drawn people recover from soul-wrenching grief and allow themselves to truly love again.”—Publishers Weekly
“I couldn't put this book down.”—Wendy Welch, author The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap
When Tom Hope, a practical sheep farmer in 1960s Australia, married Hannah Babel, a twice-widowed Auschwitz survivor many years his senior, not everyone thought it was a good idea.
But then again, Tom was easily swayed by women. His first wife, Trudy, had left him. Twice. The first time, she returned pregnant with another man's child. The second time, she joined a Christian commune, saddling Tom with raising her son, Peter. Tom and Peter became an amicable pair, herding sheep, pruning trees, and fixing engines together. So when Trudy returned two years later to claim Peter, it nearly broke both Tom, who refused to live alone again, and Peter, who had no love for this mother he didn't know, much less the Jesus Camp. Luckily, for Tom, Hannah comes to town, eager to open a bookstore. She hires Tom to help renovate the old shop building, and the two quickly become lovers. Although Hannah has survived the Holocaust, the memories of those she lost, including her son, Michael, haunt her. Meanwhile, unluckily for Peter, the pastor in charge of Jesus Camp is a controlling patriarch who believes heartily in thrashing the spirit of God into misbehaving boys, especially those who run away, like Peter. And although Tom would gladly fight to keep Peter, both the law and Hannah are against him, for Peter isn't Tom's biological son, and Hannah can't bear to love a boy again, a boy who could be lost just as Michael was. Can Tom and Hannah find a way to bring Peter home? Hillman (The Boy in the Green Suit, 2008, etc.) crafts a compelling tale, toggling among Tom's, Hannah's, and Peter's perspectives, as he delineates the stripping of each heart and draws together the ties that bind them together again.
A heart-wrenching tale of love enduring all things in the face of evil.