Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.
August 1939: London prepares for war as Hitler’s forces sweep across Europe. Grace Bennett has always dreamed of moving to the city, but the bunkers and blackout curtains that she finds on her arrival were not what she expected. And she certainly never imagined she’d wind up working at Primrose Hill, a dusty old bookshop nestled in the heart of London.
Through blackouts and air raids as the Blitz intensifies, Grace discovers the power of storytelling to unite her community in ways she never dreamed—a force that triumphs over even the darkest nights of the war.
I raced through that story!
It’s no secret by now that I adore WWII stories, especially in audiobook. Maybe because I used to listen to my great grand-mother who had known two wars and who told me what she remembered?
Anyway, the added perk of this book is its setting: a bookshop! And let’s not forget London! I already know that the next time I’ll go visit London I’ll try to find that bookshop if it still exists!
Grace Bennett is not a flamboyant heroine like her friend but she has an inner strength and grace that I found admirable.
Forced to move to London as her despicable uncle took back the house Grace and her late mother had lived in since Grace’s birth, Grace will have to face a lot of changes.
She is not an adventurous person but faced with the need to find a new job and later on, to survive the war, she will raise to the occasion all while remaining very humble in the face of all that she did for so many people.
She will find lodging with a friend of her deceased mother, coming with her best friend to London.
When she will go to the bookshop recommended by her lodger, she’ll be rebuked by the prickly owner.
Grace has never been one to read so when she’ll be hired, she will be clueless on how to help shoppers but she will organize the bookshop that was in dire need of cleaning and some organizing system.
It’s a dashing young man, George, who will help Grace fall in love with books.
I really liked seeing Grace falling in love with so many stories. And the role the books played in helping countless Londoners when being bombed at night. Grace will read stories aloud, in the subway, diverting everyone’s attention from the danger of the bombings.
Reading created such a bond between her and others, even saving the life of some of them all while helping Grace to grow. This really showed the transformative power of literacy.
As a true booknerd, this had such appeal to me!
I also really appreciated knowing more about the bombing of London, about all that its courageous citizens did to help others at night, evacuating, healing, helping douse fires etc, just like Grace did.
Armed with a set of multi layered characters, set against the background of a London under WWII and featuring a true story, The Last Bookshop in London flowed effortlessly and swept me off my feet for a few hours.
I’ll be certain to check the author’s other books!
Special mention to the narrator: Saskia Maarleveld, one of my most favorite narrators.
Thanks for reading!