But when that day comes, and Trudy takes Peter to the Jesus people, he is beside himself with anguish.
The author reveals his despair, his hopelessness, and his eventual decision to get on with life. And it was Juicy who got about the hills—not on a camel but in his bronze and black Monaro—advertising his perpetual adolescence. I indulge myself by including this because we loved ours.
Lady from the continent, as they say. From the continent. Have I? We are certainly going to know. The author takes us back to Hannah's early life and to Auschwitz, where her heart was broken. In Hometown, she is as bright and bubbly as a girl, but then she can slip into violent dark moods. This is not a mental disorder but a consequence of the war, losing her family and her own small son. The story is full of white — fabrics, hair, light — and it appears throughout the book.
Stones and pebbles also appear often. The white is sometimes clean and lovely, but the white gloves of the preacher of the Jesus people are terrifying. The stones range from small lucky pebbles to the massive stones that are the basis of the huge Lutheran barn that features later in the book. Hannah made a promise a long time ago, and Tom contemplates her determination to stick to her word. All vows could go to the devil, these stones set up as boundaries that endured the weather and the change of seasons and would not alter when all around them was altering each day; everything in the thriving world changing, but the stones unaltered.
Life is what life is, and hope, Tom Hope, endures. How he does it is beyond me. Happiness, for Tom, was a fugitive; when it appeared, it had to be roused to confidence, encouraged. Anything too gaudy and it might slip back into the shadows, perhaps forever. She shelved by title, to mix things up and make authors get along with each other. Trudy is weak-willed and erratic. Tom tries to run his property, his dairy, his orchards, his sheep and his household while mourning his loss just as Hannah mourns hers. Beautifully written. My only quibble is that I know what it takes to run a property, and I find it hard to believe anyone could manage so much so well in any circumstances, let alone these.
The quotes may have changed. Apr 01, Marianne rated it it was amazing. Do you see that that the world is big enough to make certain things possible?
That thirty-six years ago the German Student Union could hold a rally in Opernplatz, Berlin, and burn twenty-five thousand books, many written by Jews, the students rejoicing in their festival of loathing, and now this, in Hometown. It was a new business that had opened on Ben Chifley Square in Hometown, Victoria, in the spring of Leaving Budapest at least allowed her to avoid the reminders.
It was something that farmer Tom saw fleetingly in her eyes when he came to help out with welding and shelving. But now, here was Hannah. Older than him, and obviously a bit mad a bookshop, in Hometown? Was this a chance at happiness? Was that even possible while Peter was away against his will? He easily captures the era: popular songs and their singers; politics and current events; books, authors and publications; social attitudes like xenophobia; staid appetites and boring food choices all firmly cement this tale in the mid- to late sixties.
Hillman populates his novel with a marvellous cast of characters, both major and minor: the socially awkward but utterly reliable farmer Tom; the flirty butcher, Juicy Collins; weak and shallow Trudy who eventually grows a spine ; the well-organised CWA ladies; the laconic farmers; the pop-idol-obsessed teens; and the newcomer, Hannah, determined to get the town reading; each is believable and easy to imagine in a small Victorian country town.
This is a story with love and laughter, guilt and grief, cruelty and kindness. Several characters display amazing resilience. All this is wrapped in beautiful descriptive prose. View all 8 comments. This quixotic little book had me at hello. Huge thanks go to Net Galley and Putnam Penguin for the review copy.
It will be available to the public April 9, Trud This quixotic little book had me at hello. Trudy, his perpetually dissatisfied wife, up and leaves him with no warning and no discussion. Just takes off. Tom is heartsick, but a ranch is still a ranch, and so he woodenly goes through all of the tasks—milk the cow, herd the woolies—that must be done. He is such a sad fellow, and he berates himself for not having done more to make that woman happy and comfortable.
The ranch is not long on frills; an indoor shower would be nice, and a big old bathtub would be even better. He actually makes lists.
But then one day Trudy comes back. Say what? When Tom takes her back, I look at the things he has said and done and wonder whether he is maybe a little on the simple side.
But just as the question takes hold in my mind, we hear people in town talking about him. One of them tells another that after all, Tom Hope is not a stupid man. And so again I wonder why he lets her back in the house. But he does.
He welcomes her. Trudy has the baby, and then Jesus calls her and she leaves again—without the baby. You can see what I mean about that last name. What good has hope done for him so far? So when the flamboyant Hannah, a woman older than himself, a Hungarian immigrant, comes to town and decides she likes the looks of Tom, all I can think is, thank goodness.
Let the poor man have a life post-Trudy and post-Peter. Before I requested access to this novel, the Holocaust reference in the description very nearly kept me away. Younger readers less familiar with this historical war crime need to know about it. The survivors are mostly dead and gone, and there are revisionists trying to deny it, or to say that stories of it are greatly exaggerated. But the other piece of it—Tom, the ranch, the child, the romance—won the day, and I am so glad I decided to go for it.
So yes, Hannah is an interesting character, and the bookshop is hers, but the story is really about Tom. At times I want to push my way into the pages to say to him, what the hell? Go ahead and throw some dishes or something. You are entitled to your anger.
And the way Tom develops from the outset to the end is so resonant, so believable. This novel is one of the warmest, most affectionately told stories that I have read in a long time. I would read more of his work in a heartbeat, and I highly recommend it to you. View all 3 comments. Rounding up from 3. First of all, let's be clear, while the title refers to a bookshop, this novel isn't particularly about the bookshop.
There's a whole subgenre of bookstore fiction, sure to warm the hearts of booklovers everywhere. This isn't one of those books.
Tom is a sheep farmer who lives a contented, quiet life, until his wife Trudy deserts him and takes away Peter Rounding up from 3. Tom is a sheep farmer who lives a contented, quiet life, until his wife Trudy deserts him and takes away Peter, the son of his heart if not his body. When Tom meets Hannah, it's like he gets a new ray of sunshine in his life, and the two form a passionate, unbreakable bond.