The Last Word

The Last Word

by Samantha Hastings


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Set against the smoky, gaslit allure of Victorian London, this sweetly romantic historical debut is full of humor and stars a whip-smart female heroine ahead of her time.

Where one story ends, another begins.

1861. Miss Lucinda Leavitt is shocked when she learns the author of her favorite serialized novel has died before completing the story. Determined to learn how it ends, Lucinda reluctantly enlists the help of her father’s young business partner, Mr. David Randall, to track down the reclusive author’s former whereabouts.

David is a successful young businessman, but is overwhelmed by his workload. He wants to prove himself to his late father, as well as to himself. He doesn’t have the time, nor the interest, for this endeavor, but Lucinda is not the type to take no for an answer.

Their search for the elusive Mrs. Smith and the rightful ending to her novel leads Lucinda and David around the country, but the truths they discover about themselves—and each other—are anything but fictional.

Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, The Last Word by debut author Samantha Hastings is a fun yet intellectual romp through Victorian London—the perfect book for book-lovers.

Praise for The Last Word:

A Junior Library Guild Selection

"Witty, spirited, and utterly swoon-worthy. ... Filled with fierce feminism, impeccable period detail, and a charming romance that's sure to stay with readers long after the last word." —Addie Thorley, author of An Affair of Poisons

Great voice. Unique premise. … And who can resist a plucky heroine who is determined to help write an unfinished romance novel by her favorite author!” —B.R. Myers, author of Rogue Princess

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250301888
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication date: 07/09/2019
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 350,769
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Samantha Hastings has degrees from Brigham Young University, the University of Reading (Berkshire, England), and the University of North Texas. She met her husband in a turkey-sandwich line. They live in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she spends most of her time reading, eating popcorn, and chasing her kids. The Last Word is her debut novel.

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The Last Word 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
THHernandez 3 days ago
Reminiscent of Jane Austen, THE LAST WORD combines neoclassicism and romanticism along with a healthy dose of humor and wit to bring Lucinda’s and David’s story to life. The two are childhood friends who meet again after a four-year separation to find the other both the same and yet infinitely different than the person they remember. Throw in a big misunderstanding and a young woman ahead of her time, constricted by the customs of 19th century England, and sparks fly higher than between Emma and Knightley or Elizabeth and Darcy, but with the underlying warmth of Elinor and Edward. The two dance around a mutual attraction while Lucinda fights against society’s dictates for her. Fresh out of finishing school, she wants nothing to do with being a proper lady, but rather to use the brain that God gave her to work in her father’s counting house. A natural talent with numbers, she helped him when she was younger but now is expected to do needlepoint instead of auditing. If there’s anything Lucinda hates more than sitting around and waiting for someone to call on her, I don’t know what it is. Not having been born to a high-class family, her social standing comes from the wealth her father has amassed. His goal is to marry her to a man of higher social standing. Lucinda has less than zero interest in that plan. She managed to get through the long boring hours by reading. But her favorite author died before finishing her last novel, leaving Lucinda desperate to find out how it ends, as if her own ending will somehow reveal itself in those final pages. With the help of her father’s business partner and her longtime friend, David, she sets out to find anyone who may know how the story ends. But the more they dig, the more she’s left wondering, before a tragedy forces both of them to reevaluate what really matters. And what doesn’t. Plot The main plot focuses on the budding romance between Lucinda and David, but Lucinda’s desires to work in business and find out the ending of her beloved novel are strong subplots that drive most of the action. The conflict derives for the social norms of the time, status and who is allowed to associate with whom. Women’s options and their carefully guarded reputations only further bind Lucinda in a world she finds too restrictive. Her father withdrew into himself after her mother’s death years before and their strained relationship underlies everything. The author does a phenomenal job of keeping the reader in Victorian England through scene setting, language, fashion, and customs. There is both a whimsical and sweeping cinematic feel to the places Hastings sets her characters in, drawing the reader right along with them. Characters If you love any of Jane Austen’s characters, you will love these! From the narcoleptic Mrs. Patton to the eccentric woman in the half-built estate they visit in their quest, the characters are a delight. Lucinda is utterly relatable as a young woman who wants so much more from life than the world wishes to allow her and David is a man after my own heart, both seeing Lucinda as an equal, and treating her with that respect. The American girl, Persephone, who befriends Lucinda, is a delightful, although often inappropriate, breath of fresh air. What I Loved About THE LAST WORD 1. Everything. Seriously, the entire book was just amazing. It was a joy to read. 2. Lucinda. I love that she’s independent and strong and refuses to be confined by rules of society. 3. David. He is also a man
BooksDirect 4 months ago
Lucinda and David were childhood friends, but they had a falling out and haven’t seen each other for four years. Now, Lucinda asks for his help to discover the ending of her favorite serial romance after the author’s sudden passing. Under the not-so-watchful eye of Lucinda’s chaperone, they set out to discover the fate of the main character. Will Lucinda discover the end of Eurydice’s story? And what about her own story? Will Lucinda get her happily-ever-after? Is that even what she wants? The story is told from the points-of-view of Lucinda and David, so we get to see things from both the female and male perspectives in a time when women were to be seen but not heard. Lucinda is a modern woman for her time, with a love of numbers, a desire to work for her father’s accounting firm, and a disdain for social conventions and marriage. This book has all the right ingredients: a strong and intelligent female lead, a handsome and supportive male lead, a story within a story, events taken from history, and the inclusion of women’s rights issues. Unfortunately, it fails in the execution. The main flaw is that the author tells us too much, rather than letting us see it for ourselves. In addition, while some real historical figures are mentioned, their inclusion feels forced, with the author unrealistically introducing them by their full names. Also, in the end, everything wraps up a bit too easily. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post:
Anonymous 6 months ago
This was loads of fun. It's super fast paced, told mostly in dialogue with a tight group of characters that leap through dances, teas, carriage rides, and house parties while falling in love and finding their places in society. There's just enough family drama and societal conflict to flesh out the world, while the narrative focuses tightly on the romance between its two protagonists. Lucy is a modern heroine in a period setting and I think readers will enjoy seeing how she navigates her world and finds fulfillment both in and out of her romance. The literary references are laid in lightly, a fun bonus for anyone who catches them, but they work well as texture for anyone not well versed in 19th century literature. This is a book more about feeling than about knowing stuff. The search for information about an unfinished book provides the motivation to get the lovers together on their journey toward each other. If you like long held glances, almost kisses, and characters who play at love until they feel it for real, you'll thoroughly enjoy this!
Kimberly_Gabriel 6 months ago
I was really wanting a swoony romance with a strong, witty heroine and this book went beyond my expectations fulfilling that. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the witty banter between Lucinda and David. Both main characters (just like the secondary characters in this book) were fully fleshed out to the point where I find myself missing them now that I'm done reading. I LOVE the setting and the fact that Hastings made this a historical fiction book. Being a Bronte and Austin fan (both of whom are mentioned in this book), I was thrilled to have that literary feel mixed with page-turning anticipation. This book, with its clever plot, its characters that pop off the page, and its sweet, gripping romance, makes for an unforgettable read.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I really enjoyed Samantha Hastings's debut novel, THE LAST WORD!! It's totally my type of book since I'm a sucker for historicals and anything inspired by British literature. Here are my top 5 favorite things about THE LAST WORD: The main character, Lucinda, is gifted at doing figures and calculations (a historical girl in STEM!). The male protagonist, Daniel, isn't threatened by the fact that Lucinda happens to be better at math than he is, despite his patriarchal Victorian upbringing. Lucinda's love of books! Lucinda as a character--she's stubborn and spunky and a go-getter who knows what she wants and how to get it, but she isn't so headstrong that she can't learn from her experience. All the allusions to 19th century literature. Bonus fun: Lucinda's companion Mrs. Patton and her snoring. Bottom line: If you're looking for a fun, cute historical YA with a swoon-worthy romance, you need to pick up THE LAST WORD!!
kozbisa 6 months ago
It wasn't easy being a young woman in 1861. All Lucinda wanted to do was contribute to her father's business, but society dictated that she belonged in the home, bored to tears. When one of her favorite authors died before finishing their book, Lucinda was determined to get those last pages. This search for the "ending" resulted in more than Lucinda had ever anticipated. • Pro: I rarely read historicals, but for some reason, the majority seem to be set during this time period, and I always enjoy it. I am always amused by how prim and proper everyone was, and love seeing characters toppling that barrier. • Pro: Her father tried his hardest to turn Lucinda into a proper lady, but she could not keep that much spirit under wraps. It was fun seeing all the little ways she pushed the boundaries, and David's reactions to her shenanigans were priceless. • Pro: Speaking of David, he was a great match for Lucinda. Unlike most men of that time period, he delighted in Lucinda's mathematical brilliance, curiosity, and desire to do more than write letters and work on her needlepoint. • Pro: Lucinda won my heart. She was fierce, determined, and very much an independent thinker. That girl had moxie, and I loved the way she challenged people and their ideas of who she should be. • Pro: It was wonderful watching the spark between spark ignite between these two former friends. The interactions between David and Lucinda were sweet and fun and packed with snappy banter. There were these seriously swoony parts too, that just melted my heart. The romance between these two was absolutely precious, and I was shipping them the whole time. • Pro: I think readers will appreciate the feminist messages permeating the story. Lucinda was definitely a woman ahead of her time. Overall: A fun and charming romance between a lovely hero and a spirited heroine, which was filled with a little action, a bit of mystery, witty banter, and lots of swoons.