Every so seldom I come upon a book to treasure. Every day I read. I inhabit a forest of books,
I sleep between towers of books, some read, some half-read, most unread. No day goes unbooked.
Some in my world of books inform or advise or enlighten. Others – not enough of them – delight or tickle me. Some inspire, some shock, others outrage and a few disgust me. Plenty bore me. But every so rarely comes a story that calls for that overused word, love. Robert Hillman’s ‘Bookshop of the Broken Hearted’ is a book to love.
What do I mean here by love? In two separate surveys carried out a decade or so ago, respondents were asked to name their most-beloved Australian novel. I saw listed many books I’d enjoyed, by authors I admire. Before reading the results I made my own nomination – Tim Winton’s ‘Cloudstreet’. I read the rankings, and there, topping both surveys, was Cloudstreet.’Just so: Winton’s characters, their stories, their rich and variegated humanness, are given to us in their fulness, given us to love. ‘Cloudstreet’ stays with the reader and is recalled with love. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is another such.
Ripe for adding to that list is Hillman’s ‘Bookshop’. It broke my heart and it healed it. I laughed (my guffaws this morning alarmed a tramful of screen-trapped commuters) and I ached for the child. And for the adults who saw this child and that child torn from them I felt a distress that has visited me only once outside of a book, when the (false) report arrived that my child had a fatal malignancy.
‘Bookshop’ left me hopeful but not complacent. I will cherish the simple farmer who is the protagonist and I will tremble for him so long as memory abides.
I invite you come to Readings Bookshop in Carlton, to hear Robert Hillman in conversation with this happy blogger at 6.30 pm next Monday, May 7th.
The combination of your praise and the review make this a ‘must read’. I might get to that conversation.
I am a faithful reader of your blog. Keep it up! (The blog, I mean)
How I regret the passing of our Friday shiur
Might it one day- perhaps in our retirement – undergo a resurrection?
I’d love to see you next Monday eve
Or any Monday/eve
Thank you for your keeping it up benediction