Madeline Martin tells a heartwarming story of a young woman discovering the joys of reading--and forming a new community--in The Last Bookshop in London. Grace Bennett has never been a great reader--she's been too busy running her uncle's village shop, especially since her mother died. But when she moves to London with her best friend Viv in 1939, she lands an assistant position at a dusty bookshop.
Martin (author of more than 30 historical romances) draws her characters, including the bookshop, with care: Primrose Hill Books will appeal to readers who love an afternoon browsing crowded shelves. As Grace seeks to improve the store's sales, and begins reading a bit more herself, Hitler invades Poland and then the Blitz comes to London. Viv joins the Auxiliary Territorial Service, most of the young men in the neighborhood go off to fight, and Grace is left to help on the home front. Spending her days at the bookshop and her nights patrolling the nearby streets as an ARP warden, Grace must call on courage she didn't know she possessed to make sure she and the bookshop survive the war. Martin vividly portrays the stoic determination of the British people and the importance of small joys, such as Grace's impromptu read-alouds while sheltering from air raids in a tube station.
With likable characters, countless nods to classic literature and a heroine possessed of both compassion and grit, The Last Bookshop in London is a treat for historical fiction fans. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams