Set in a bookshop, London during the blitz, a touch of romance, a touch of tears, plenty of light, good-natured humor, and more–what more could one ask for in a good “read”? Oh, yes, the audio version–that too. This was an exceptionally fulfilling reading experience for me. It was just the diversion I needed from the scheduling of doctor’s appointments and tests, a welcome respite from the tedium of “getting well.” The novel was published in 2021, and I first heard of it on Deb Nance’s Readerbuzz.
Martin has written a “timeless story of wartime loss, love, and the enduring power of literature.” It is modeled on one of the few bookshops left standing after the London Blitz.
Grace Bennett finds herself clerking at a bookshop under the proverbial curmudgeon owner, when she and her best friend leave their country life and head to London, just in time for the war to begin. Grace is not much of a reader herself, but is introduced to The Count of Monte Cristo by a handsome customer who joins the RAF shortly after he meets Grace. When Grace begins this classic, she is caught up in its pageantry and action and goes on to other classics under the benign approval of Primrose Hill Bookshop’s gruff owner. During the unfolding of the plot, Grace discovers the joys of reading, even reading to the community from the bookshop and during the long nights spent in the tunnels and shelters inhabited during the bombings. The two girls share many wartime adventures, sometimes being forced to share them through letters, and the book comes to the end of the war and a happy ending for all. This is a most satisfying read/listen. I enjoyed it immensely.