The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted

Robert Hillman

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted cherishes the power of love and literature. Set in 1960s Australia, a lonely farmer finds his life turned upside down by the arrival of a vibrant librarian.

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In this tender and wise novel about love and forgiveness in 1960s Australia, a lonely farmer finds his life turned upside down by the arrival of a vibrant bookseller.

"Beautifully written. . . . Full of insight into the nature of tragedy, love, and redemption." --Garth Stein

"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

Can one unlikely bookshop heal two broken souls?

It is 1968 in rural Australia and lonely Tom Hope can't make heads or tails of Hannah Babel. Newly arrived from Hungary, Hannah is unlike anyone he's ever met--she's passionate, brilliant, and fiercely determined to open sleepy Hometown's first bookshop.

Despite the fact that Tom has only read only one book in his life, when Hannah hires him to install shelving for the shop, the two discover an astonishing spark. Recently abandoned by an unfaithful wife--and still missing her sweet son, Peter--Tom dares to believe that he might make Hannah happy. But Hannah is a haunted woman. Twenty-four years earlier, she had been marched to the gates of Auschwitz.

Perfect for fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Light Between Oceans, The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted cherishes the power of love, literature, and forgiveness to transform our lives, and--if we dare allow them--to mend our broken hearts.

Advance Galley Reviews

I found this novel hard reading. At first I thought it was the distracting words particular to Australia. Tom drives a ute, for example. He fixes cali for dinner. He asks for his “under-junders” but then puts on his underpants. (162) These are colloquial words common in Australia and I can see an author using them in dialogue but in the prose sections I would certainly prefer using words understood by all readers of English. I did not find the plot captivating. It was slow moving and I had to force myself to continue reading. I could not identify with the characters even though the strength of the novel is supposed to be the relationships between them. The dialogue involving Hannah was just strange, as was she. I did not find any of the characters, except maybe Peter, worth my emotional interest. I did like the setting and the descriptions of farming and the intense rainfall. I thought the best parts of the book were the historical interludes of Hannah's experiences in and around World War II. Hillman is a new author to me so I thought I would give her a try. I don't think I'll look for any more by her. I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

The Bookshop of the Brokenhearted takes place in late 1960's Australia. Tom Hope is married to Trudy but she leaves him, only to come back pregnant with another man's baby. Hannah is a Hungarian Jew who survived Auschwitz, but her son Michael didn't survive. This book intertwines the lives of these characters with the ups and downs of life and death. I was not a fan of this book. The characters were shallow and uninteresting. The dialog between the characters was often bordering on the absurd. Having received an advanced copy from the publisher through Netgalley for my honest review I find this difficult to write. I would much prefer to offer a flattering review of a fantastic book, but I guess there are occasionally duds in the offerings.

This wonderful story had me entrapped in its pages as I read the unfolding love story of the two main characters Hanna and Tom. The characters loss and struggles tear at your heart and you root for them to find love and heal their broken hearts.

Hannah has come to town and wants to open a bookshop though no one believes it will succeed. She hires Tom Hope to help her build some shelves. Tom recognizes a heart-broken person in Hannah as Tom is one himself. His wife Trudy left him and took her son, Peter, with her. Tom loved Peter like a son and he misses him dreadfully. Hannah, well, Hannah has met with more grief than most when she was taken to Auschwitz. Both of these broken-hearted souls will learn whether they can be healed or be haunted by their losses forever. I was completely mesmerized by this beautifully written book. I can see why this was compared to “The Light Between Oceans” because it had that same tragic, soul-wrenching quality to it. This book just wouldn’t let go of my heart. It’s filled with compassion for the human spirit and treats its characters with such a gentle, loving touch. I loved Tom, Hannah and Peter and hated to part with them. I read so many books and some I remember, some I don’t, but I know I will never forget this one. Just gorgeous. One added note of a part in the book that I loved. It was Hannah’s goal for her bookshop to sell twenty thousand books, the exact number of books, many written by Jews, which were burned in Opernplatz, Berlin. Such a wonderful example of turning something terrible into a thing of beauty. Most highly recommended. I absolutely loved it.

This quiet love and life story set in 1960s Australia completely captivated me. The loyal, reliable and just plain good Tom Hope meets eccentric Hannah Babel, proprietor of his small, rural town’s bookshop. They’re completely different people who work perfectly together, even though they each have broken hearts from their past that are not so easy to heal. Hannah is hilarious, passionate and delightful; Tom is the kind of guy everyone wants to know. To follow their relationship through this softly wonderful novel is a pleasure. It’s a love story that feels fresh; this isn’t a book you’ve read before. I don’t read many novels set in Australia, so the new location felt original and enticing. Hillman’s writing style feels both literary and accessible, and left me looking up the author’s other works so I could read them in the future. The plot was weighty but not heavy. This is a beauty of a book.

Absolutely beautiful. Extremely poignant and touching, I leaked tears almost the whole time while reading it. But I laughed outloud a few times too. Brilliant writing and a very beautiful tale about two adults and a child who are all strong in their own ways. I feel like I will want to read this again.

Beautifully writtwn, heartbreaking and intriguing. My only problem was it sometimes dragged because of the flashbacks. But not enough to detract from the overall feeling of the novel.

I'm on the fence with this one. I loved the idea of the story and the first half of the book really drew me and had me turning pages quickly. But after I spent a lot of time with the main character I wasn't sure that I liked her, and I think you were supposed to. The same holds with the other main character. I wonder that the author didn't spend enough time with his characters before he introduced them into the plot. Or maybe they just needed to be different characters because the plot of this book was really a good one. I was so surprised and excited when I realized Nazi Germany was going to play in the backstory. I wish the second half of the story would have been as compelling as the first, but something seemed to really slow down during the second half and the whole ended rather abruptly for me.

A gentle story of love and loss set in the 1960's in Australia. I had a bit of difficulty getting into the story. I won't lie, this is not my new favorite book. But if you're patient and in the mood for a quiet love story, I think you will really enjoy it. Thank you to Penguin First to Read for the opportunity to read and review this book.

I too really enjoyed this book. Parallel stories about Tom Hope and Hannah Babel. Both strong characters who the author developed well. 10/10 for this one

Tom is a steady guy with a farm dealing with a wife who has left him twice. The second time she left him for good. Hannah is a Hungarian Jew who survived Auschwitz and outlived two husbands. Hannah hires Tom to make bookshelves in her new bookstore. These two broken hearted people fall in love. There are bumps along the way, but their love endures. I really liked this book. I’m thinking that part of the reason is because it takes place in part of Australia where I was an exchange student in 1986. I could picture the people and the landscape. It’s just a sweet story of two people who deserve love and find it in each other. The love they share overcomes cultural, educational, and age differences. There is another thing they need to overcome, but you’ll have to read the book to find that out. The only problem I see in this book is that it uses Australian slang that many non-Australians will be unfamiliar with.

With a very sentimental start to this novel, the author reeled me in immediately. The doubled plot of history and romance kept me focused throughout. Thank you Robert Hillman for writing this loving, tender novel about the lives of Tom Ford and Hannah Babel in Australia. Tom is a sheep rancher who finds hope after losing the loves of his life. Hannah is a Jewish refugee from Hungary and Auschwitz who travels to Australia in the late 1960’s to begin a new life as a bookstore owner. The book is not a cozy fictional account about a bookshop. It’s glory is linked to the human heart and it’s ability to endure all fates. Several other issues are addressed including child punishment, and the book ambles into philosophical conflict of war. Thank you to the Penguin Random House program, First to Read, for offering this outstanding book.

The Bookshop of the Brokenhearted is a story of overcoming great tragedy, loss and healing the broken hearts of two grieving people. A kind, hardworking Australian rancher-farmer of not many words abandoned twice by his first wife and an eclectic, haunted, zany, Jewish woman from Budapest who survived the Holocaust. They meet when Hannah commissions him to fix a rusted signboard frame for her new bookshop and then begins a friendship filled with promise and struggles as they try to heal the wounds from their past. A really great read filled with history, loss,hope & love plus an outback town called Hometown in Australia that doesn't realize it needs a bookshop and someone like Hannah.

What a great book! The setting, the characters, and their stories are so endearing and rich. Having been to The areas of Australia in the book added to the experience for me. Tom is like the guy you feel needs protection, but his strength is right there at the ready...just below the surface. Hannah brings her own story which unfolds as her relationship grows with Tom. The townspeople are the perfect mix of the easy going Aussie.’ As well as the international mix that is the country. I really enjoyed the book.

A gentle story of lost souls finding their places and their own family in a locale none of them thought possible, a farm in rural Australia. Reflective and unassuming, a young farmer wonders what he could have done differently to keep his wife on his farm. She returns briefly to give birth to a son and then disappears again. The farmer bonds with her son, then she spirits him away while the son yearns to return to the only place he feels truly at home. Somehow the farmer falls in love with the only Holocaust survivor in his small Australian town. How these three people reflect back upon one another, and the author’s skill at describing their yearnings and desires, makes this book a fascinating and inspiring story. I received my copy from Penguin’s First to Read Program.


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