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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A tender and wise novel about love, family, and forgiveness in 1960s Australia, in which a lonely farmer finds his world turned upside down by a vibrant woman determined to open the first bookstore his town has ever seen--and to leave her haunting memories of the Holocaust far behind.

"Beautifully written."--Garth Stein

"A poignant journey of unthinkable loss, love, and the healing capacity of the written word."--Ellen Keith

"Reminds us of the redemptive power of sharing our stories. I will remember this novel for a long time to come."--Steven Rowley

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

My copy expired before I could read past the third chapter. I did like what I managed to read of it though.

Darn, my download expired before I got to this one, so no review here...

This was an okay read for me. There were aspects of it I like, but generally I wasn't as interested in Tom and Hannah's relationship as I should have been. I did like Tom, and while I wouldn't say he was the most interesting character, I understood him. Hannah has experienced much tragedy in her life so while I understood where she was coming from, I couldn't connect to her. Another reviewer said that Hannah doesn't feel authentic and I very much agree with that. Hillman's writing style is direct and to the point which works in describing events and surroundings, but was a bit lacking when it came to character development. I will say he does do an excellent job of weaving back and forth between the 1968 and 1944. From what I've seen, most people think this is a fantastic novel, so while it is not my cup of tea, if you like this genre you may enjoy it.

Tom Hope is a 1960's Australian farmer. He's a gentle, kind, understanding, and simple man. He's also a husband, but maybe not a good one since his wife leaves him, not once, but twice. The second time she leaves with the only son Tom has ever known and loved. Tom is left broken hearted, living out his days robotically, but yearning for more. When he meets newcomer Hannah, he starts to believe that she is the more he's been waiting for. While I really enjoyed the farm setting and descriptions of Tom's small town, called "Hometown," in Australia, I have mixed feelings about the story overall. The story started off pretty strongly, but then doesn't maintain that strength. I didn't completely connect to all the characters and some parts of the story were pretty abrupt. Tom (even though he felt quite "flat" at times) and Peter were probably my favorite characters, but Hannah, I could never quite get a read on her. As a reader, I know we are supposed to feel sympathy for her and her story, but while I was saddened, I just never got to a place where I thought some of her actions were justified. She was just all over the place. Compelling story overall, but the writing style and character development make this just an "ok" read for me.

The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman was a very good read. Three quirky people have broken hearts for very different reasons. One man who's his wife left him to join a religious cult. A woman, who's son has died in Auschwitz and a boy named Peter. Only when the three come together will their hearts heal. Thank you to First to Read and Penguin Random House for this wonderful read with a feel good four star ending.

2.75 stars Thank you to Penguin's First to Read and G.P. Putnam's Sons for a chance to read and review this ARC. Published on April 9, 2019. My expectation was way off for this book. I was expecting a light romance kindled in a bookstore. So far from the actuality of this novel. I felt that the book started out well, I really liked the main character Tom and also liked Peter, the son of Tom's wife. I also enjoyed the farm setting. I was still okay with the story when Tom met Hannah and helped her with the book store. But not long after that, I started to struggle. I usually like the alternating chapters that almost all authors have gone to recently. However, in this book, I felt that using that method made the story feel choppy and disconnected. Other than Tom and Peter I did not like any of the characters in the story. Maybe that was because I expected a light romance and this novel is not that. I wanted and expected a nice light love affair, inspired in a book shop. This novel is definitely not light. And I don't feel that the bookshop played that big a part - at least not as I had imagined it would. Hannah's plight also did not seem to fit into the rest of the story. I felt it was too big of a contrast. Instead of going from warm to cuddly, this story went from warm to razor wire. I can see where people may like this story, however, for me, it just did not work.

I'm the kind of reader who needs a good plot and connection to characters to feel invested in a story. However, the writing style did not connect me to the characters in any meaningful way. I didn't really understand Tom and Hannah's relationship. Also, the plot was very meandering. I think there is definitely a certain type of reader for this book, but it unfortunately was not me.

As someone who has developed an interest in reading more contemporary Australian stories and authors, I was quick to request The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted. Unfortunately, after reading about 50% of the story, I was unable to finish the book. The writing style did not connect, and the distance I felt as a reader did the entire thing a disservice. Much of Tom's story felt more like someone explaining the facts of a person's life instead of allowing the character to really show his story. It really felt like the author was rushing through Tom's backstory in order to get to the part he wanted to write about.

I have a thing for books about bookshops, so this novel set in a rural Australian bookshop had me at the title. It did not disappoint, despite the fact that the bookshop is more a catalyst than a main setting. The flashback chapters describing Auschwitz survivor Hannah's experiences are powerful. So much loss. It's interesting to see how she copes and manifests resilience. The beautifully lyric and quiet descriptions of Tom Hope's existence are powerful, too, as are those of Peter Carson, the son of Tom's first wife who is taken by his mother to live in a religious cult. I recommend this book to readers looking for historical fiction with a spare, lyrical style of writing, and definitely to those readers interested in Australiana.

This is such a beautiful story about the unlikely and unexpected relationship between Tom Hope, a farmer in Australia, and Hannah, a heartbroken Holocaust survivor. But before Tom meets Hannah, there's Trudy, who leaves Tom but returns to him pregnant with another man's child. Tom helps raise Trudy's child, Peter, until she leaves again to her holy roller community and takes Peter with her. There are so many touching and heartbreaking moments in this book. Hannah was such a strong and resilient character. It's evident that her sad and tragic past made her the strong willed, passionate person she is. I loved watching Tom and Hannah's relationship blossom and I loved rooting for them despite what the people of their town thought. They were passionate and loving and supported each other's dreams. They were both broken people who suffered loss and found love again. The author did such a good describing the town and the Australian countryside. I felt like I was there and I felt connected to the characters and their emotions. I really enjoyed this sweet and surprisingly emotional read.

Truth be told, I’m a sucker for books about bookstores. I was instantly attracted to this title, “The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted.” It is not, however, a saccharine, sanguine novel. It’s filled with grit, resilience, and love (albeit love that perhaps is too forgiving). I also love books with a strong sense of place, those that transport me. From my reading perch, I want to be like Anne Tyler’s “Accidental Tourist.” Robert Hillman engenders a sense of place. He brings the Aussie outback to life and further enhances the story by the 1960s time period. Can’t you see, hear, and smell his farm from this passage: “The cows: Tom herded them into the dairy. The reek of wet beast was rich. The rain on the iron roof was like a crescendo heralding an implacable god who was ready to announce the end of everything....A cow is a tyrant of a certain sort, and all dairy farmers entertain fantasies of murder.” Tom’s solitary regimented life is filled with the tragedy of his first wife’s departure. When she returns pregnant from another man, Tom embraces the new born son and becomes his primary parent. Heartbreak surfaces again when his wife leaves for a second time with his beloved “son” and refuses Tom access to the child. In walks Hannah from Hungary, having survived Auschwitz. If I had known that this novel wove in the Holocaust, I might not have read it. I’ve taken a break from WWII novels but I must admit that Hannah’s affability and the juxtaposition of her story in this rural setting where many knew next to nothing about what had happened two decades earlier made for a fascinating story. Hillman succeeds with lush prose and interesting storytelling. His characters are likeable and the love stories are infinitely human. It was a joy to read this delicious and different novel that transported me. My only criticism is that I wanted to know what happened to his loyal dog, Beau, who was a major character and the novel finished without those details. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in AGR.

Aptly named, Tom Hope is an emotionally conservative man. His wife left him to return pregnant only to leave him again later. Shortly thereafter, Tom is happy to make bookshelves for, fall in love with, and marry Hannah. She is a recently arrived Jew who physically survived Auschwitz but has many emotional scars. The writing is sparse and instead of feeling like it is shallow, these spaces seem to be left for the reader to insert their own ideas and emotions. Whatever it is, it works. And while the reader seems to be given the idea that Tom is the main character, in many ways I felt like he was established as the foundation for the actual main character, Hannah, as she struggles to deal with her past and tries to find herself a future. Maybe I am reading too much into this book? All I know is that I enjoyed my time in 1960's Hometown, Australia.

A haunting, melancholy telling of love, great loss, redemption, salvation, all in their many forms. Set in 1960's Australia it is the story of Tom, a farmer, who loses his wife when she tires of the sparse existence of life on the farm and leaves him. She returns pregnant with another man's child but Tom takes her back and loves the boy, Peter, as his own. His wife leaves a second time to go to a religious cult taking Peter with her. Tom is bereft. Hannah is a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz but lost both her husband and young son in the camp. When she starts her life over by immigrating to Australia she ends up in Hometown where she meets Tom. These two deeply wounded people come together in a well written tale sometimes poetic in nature. As always there are bumps and ruts - life is never even - but Robert Hillman offers insightful and realistic resolution. A gem of a novel.

For the most part I found this book good. It has some moments that seemed to drag on and was a bit jumpy at times, but for the most part it flowed well. It seemed like it had one chapter too many and could have ended at the end of chapter 35. It was definitely a quick read and I appreciated the author's approach to the story they wanted to tell.

Sadly a DNF. The story did not draw me in nor the characters.

Set in Australia during the 1960’s, this novel is a story about Tom, a man whose heart was broken when his wife, Trudy, abandoned him. In addition, she took away her son, Peter, whom Tom had grown to love and consider his own. Living out on a ranch in the country, he doubts that he will ever find someone who cares about him and who wouldn’t mind living a quiet life away from the city of Hometown. Trudy, along with Peter, begins a new life in a “religious” cult. The strict laws that they are forced to live under become unbearable for Peter. He dreams of returning to live with Tom. Hannah is new to Australia. She is a survivor of Auschwitz. Her family did not survive and Hannah is grieving. Hoping to start a new life, she arrives in Hometown where she decides to open a bookshop and share her love of literature. But first she will need help with carpentry. One of the merchants suggests she ask Tom for help. In this beautifully written novel, the lives of these three lonely, brokenhearted people become entwined. It’s a story of loss, perseverance, forgiveness, family, and the power of love to to bring hope and joy even in the darkest of times. Thank you to First to Read, author Robert Hillman, and G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House for giving me the opportunity to read the ARC of this novel.

I read the first quarter of this book and just couldn't continue. The writing style didn't suit me. It felt like a lot of telling versus showing and I, unfortunately, couldn't continue. I'm sure this book would be great for someone else, especially someone looking for this type of story, but I just couldn't get through it.

Tom Hope awakens at 4 AM daily to milk the cows and then check on the woolies. The Australian farm he owns in the small town of Hometown, Victoria was an inheritance. Tom is quiet and soft spoken, awkward with people. His steady companion is his dog, an old heeler named Beau. Tom has discovered "...what a hit-or-miss business it was being married." His second wife Trudy, a city girl unhappy with farm life, abandoned him. One year later, Trudy resurfaced, pregnant by another man. Tom took her back agreeing to raise the child. "...the sense of failure that troubled him [Tom] became too much to bear: not much of a farmer, poor husband, but he'd made a good job of being a father." While little Peter felt his mother's lack of love and affection, he called for Tom, ''...the man who was not his father." Farming became even more challenging when Trudy departed again leaving three year old Peter with Tom. Tom had to supervise the small boy but still shear his sheep. When milking the cows, Beau served as the babysitter. Peter is now five years old, has his school uniform ready, and is prepared for his first day of school. Trudy arrives and whisks her son away. She has joined a cult. Tom has no legal rights. He is not Peter's father. Both Tom and Peter are brokenhearted. A trip to town to combat sheer loneliness holds a surprise for Tom. A vacant store is being turned into a bookshop. Hannah Babel, bookshop owner and a Hungarian Jewish Holocaust survivor, is determined to succeed. " could probably claim that not a half dozen people in Hometown had ever opened the cover of a book and get [got] away with it." Hannah undeterred said, "They will read. They will come to Madame Babel. Don't worry." She hired Tom to build shelves to hold her voluminous stock of books for sale. She admired his expertise in carpentry. "Hannah...was interested in him...He had never before in his life been made to feel interesting." "He had accepted that Hannah was a fruitcake. It didn't ruin his liking for her..." He was in love! However, "...he grasped that she was suffering...that huge smile...but she was suffering." The three main protagonists in this tome, time and again, experience unspeakable loss and are brokenhearted. Tom is in love with Hannah but sometimes "every trace of tenderness had left her." In May 1944, Hannah, husband Leon and three year old son, Michael were rounded up and taken to Auschwitz. Hannah has vowed never to love a child again. Peter and Tom have an amazingly strong bond. Risks taken by Peter are to no avail. What is to become of these damaged souls? "The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted" by Robert Hillman encompasses a myriad of deep feelings, feelings of love, loss and the beauty of the land. A heartfelt read. Tissues required. Highly recommended. Thank you First to Read and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review "The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted".

Set in a small town in Australia in the 1960’s, the book also brings in scenes from the holocaust as it tells the stories of Tom, a sheep farmer, and Hannah, a Jewish survivor of Auschwitz and the war. Peter, a young son of Tom’s first wife, also features when he is taken from Tom to live in a religious cult by his mother. Tom and Hannah meet when she is opening a bookshop in town but the bookshop does not play a major role despite the title. The story is of love and loss, guilt, forgiveness, redemption and, above all, hope for happiness. Tom is the central figure as the three find the love and family they need. The novel is well written but the story is slow; it was not a book I couldn’t put down for a while.

This was an okay book with nothing drastically wrong with it, but also nothing wonderful about it either. From the synopsis I would have thought that more of the story took place in the bookstore, but that's just a very small side plot point. The flow of the story seemed very disjointed. The characters didn't seem to have any real depth to them. If I were to picture them, they would have been just cardboard cutouts. So, again, it was just an okay story.

I really wanted to like this book but found it hard to continue reading. I liked the character of Tom and felt for him with the loss of Peter, who he loved like his own son. The character of Hannah was interesting. It was easier to understand her once you read her story and surviving WWII. Overall it was a good book but not really my cup of tea. I would like to read more by this author because she is a good writer.

After putting this book down, I have to say that I love the warm and fuzzy feeling that Robert Hillman leaves us with at the end of the novel. As to not spoil anyone, I won't say what that warm and fuzzy ending entailed, but I will say that I thought this was a solid book. The plot has two storylines, with one revolving around Tom and Hannah, showing how their relationship developed as they grew to know and love each other. The other following Hannah as she survives World War 2 in Auschwitz and then tries to put her life back together after the fact. To speak on the plot, I personally feel that a majority of the time the story moved along very slowly as the author depicted Tom and Hannah just growing closer as they did everyday activities together. At the beginning of the book, I found this interesting, but as we continued I began to lose interest in the monotony of their everyday life. I will say though, in the last 100 pages of the novel, the author did create some action and more interesting aspects to the story that kept me from putting the book down. Character-wise, I enjoyed the characters we got to see throughout this book, but the problem for me was they were pretty 2-dimensional. There was nothing special that made me feel like I was connected to any of the characters, and they are not ones that I feel likely to remember in any extended period of time. Overall, I was quite excited to read this book going in, but in the end, it fell a little short of my expectations.

The Short of It: I wasn’t quite sure which direction this story would take but when I turned that last page I was pretty satisfied. The Rest of It: Tom and Trudy live on a farm. Trudy, not once but twice leaves Tom for greener pastures. Tom, a kind, gentle man, doesn’t understand her need to flee but in the end accepts it. His only regret is not keeping Peter, the son she brought back with her after leaving him that first time. A son who wasn’t his to begin with. Enter Hannah. She’s older than Tom but her eccentricities appeal to Tom in a way that surprises him. She’s lived in Budapest and is more worldly than anyone he’s known and plans to open a bookshop in his tiny town. She seems a little out there but when she needs help putting the shop together, Tom offers his services and the two fall in love. It sounds like a very sweet story but then it gets more complicated. Long ago, Hannah survived the horrors of Auschwitz but her first husband, and her dear son Michael did not. Tom doesn’t really understand what she’s been through and although she mentions it here and there, the full horror of her past is not revealed in its entirety. This makes Hannah push back when things get really serious and leaves Tom thinking that he has yet another wife who wants nothing to do with him. This novel took me by surprise. It felt pretty safe when I read those first few chapters. The only thing that stood out at the time was that there was a lot of sex! I even mentioned it to another blogger because it seemed like there was a lot of it but the characters had barely gotten to know one another. But then we learn of Hannah’s past and the horrors that she was forced to endure and everything began to fall into place. Love is complicated, especially when there is a lot of baggage brought into the relationship. I enjoyed the quirkiness of Hannah, and Tom’s genuine love for her. There is some bookish talk, but not as much as the title would suggest. This story isn’t really about the bookshop at all so if that’s what you are expecting, you might be a little disappointed. However, I really enjoyed The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted. The characters seemed very real to me and I like that not everything was perfect. I’ve always enjoyed stories about lost souls who find each other and this book was no exception.

I wanted to like this book a lot, but it fell a little short for me. I felt sometimes like there were parts missing where the characters had been better developed, and thought I had missed something! The idea was a very sweet story, and perhaps is better suited to other kinds of readers than myself.

I was definitely intrigued by the synopsis, but as soon as I started reading it just stopped interesting me. I wasn't even able to finish because the characters didn't feel too relatable and I couldn't connect with them. And while the writing was okay, it just wasn't my style.

This was not my favorite. I was pulled into the story at first since the writing is very well done, but none of the characters seemed real to me and I ended up skimming the later pages of book.

From the description of this book, I expected more of it to take place in the bookshop. That was only a very small part of the story. Hannah and Trudy were difficult characters for me to care for, and Tom just seemed to go with the flow. His allegiance was primarily to Peter and that is where he exerts more of an effort. Occasionally the reader was reminded that the setting was Australia in the late 60s, but that, too, seemed peripheral to the story.The writing is well done and that is what made me keep reading long after I realized that I could predict the ending.

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 poignant, wonderful story about tragedy, love and the human spirit. Hannah Babel spent much of World War II enduring Hitler’s worst atrocities. She loses her husband and her son but manages to survive. She finds her way to Australia and decides to open a bookstore in Hometown, a community with few readers. She meets lonely farmer Tom Hope and converts him to a reader and finally to her husband. The bookstore is familiarly known as Hannah’s Bookstore but she has a sign in Hebrew calling it The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted. Before long residents of Hometown become readers and life seems on an upturn until Tom’s ex-wife’s son wants to return to Tom. Hannah refuses and leaves him. A lovely story with a message of love and understanding. Thanks to First to Read for the opportunity to read this lovely book.

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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