Review: The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted (Robert Hillman)
“The way he held a book in his hands, and the frown of concentration on his brow, kindled love in her heart.”
― Robert Hillman, The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
Author: Robert Hillman
Genre: Romance / historical fiction
Page Count: 317
Published: 2 April 2018
Plot: (7.0 / 10) Characters: (6.0 / 10) Ending: (7.0 / 10)
Author: Robert Hillman
Tom Hope is a farmer, and he doesn’t think he’s much good at it, but he does his best. When his wife suddenly leaves him, he assumes he wasn’t a good husband. When she returns, pregnant with another man’s child, he discovers he does have a talent – as a father, but when she takes the boy away, his heart breaks all over again.
When Hannah Babel moves to town to open a bookshop, Tom believes the two of them can be happy together. It’s 24 years since Hannah and her husband and son arrived at Auschwitz, and her heartbreaking story is told.
I was drawn to this book by the bright, beautiful cover, and my initial judgment (yes, I judged it by its cover) was that it would be quite a lighthearted read about a bookshop. I was very wrong!
I warmed to the character of Tom straight away, and was devastated for him when Peter was taken away from him. Tom is written in a sweet, almost naïve way, and I loved seeing his character develop throughout the book. I loved the stories of him on the farm, particularly with Peter, and the descriptions of the Australian landscape were beautiful.
Part of my struggle with this story was that I didn’t warm to Hannah. My heart broke at her story of Auschwitz and the events that followed, but I just couldn’t get along with her.
I found it really interesting that Tom didn’t know anything about Auschwitz. The majority of the book is set in Australia 24 years after the War, so maybe I shouldn’t have been as surprised, I think I just assumed that what happened during the war would have been known around the world.
The ending was not what I expected at all, it all seemed to suddenly move really quickly and felt a little rushed at times, but I thought that ultimately it was satisfying, and I felt like everything was tied up nicely.
It’s a beautifully descriptive book, but I found I struggled with the dialogue at times. I was interested in the story and was intrigued about where it was going, but I did find that whenever I had to put down the book, I wasn’t itching to return to it. My favourite parts were the moments set in the bookshop, and when Tom was finding his way with Peter at the beginning.
Does this sound like the kind of book you’d read? Have you read anything good lately?