The Last Bookshop is Emma Young’s first novel. Originally shortlisted for the inaugural Fogarty Literary Award in 2019, it has now been published by Fremantle Press in 2021.
The book’s central character is Cait whose love of books was fostered by June, the nanny hired when she was less than a year old, and the one constant in her life.
Those of us who preferred books to people as children will empathise strongly with Cait as her teachers tried to get her to ‘socialise’, ‘make friends’, and ‘not have her head permanently buried in a book’.
Cait is thrilled when she achieves her ambition of opening her own bookshop, Book Fiend, fitting it out just the way she wants. With the assistance of ropy dreadlocked, stovepipe bodied Seb, she is in her element, assisting people to find the perfect book and chatting with her regulars.
And then there are the mobile clients, those too old or ill to make it into the shop, but avid readers just the same, including June, now an elderly lady living by herself. Cait would carefully curate a selection of books for each person, and then spend a day driving trusty Dent to each person’s home where she would have the chance to chat, drink tea, munch on whatever yummies had been created for her predilection and often make more money than a day’s takings in the shop.
But things are changing in the street where the shop is situated, family businesses are being replaced by upmarket, trendy shops. Cait is shocked when she receives the letter increasing her rent on the land where the shop is situated to an exorbitant figure, in a clear effort to push her out.
Despite everything she does to try to keep the shop open, it seems that big impersonal business is going to win and Cait will lose everything until help appears from a most unexpected quarter.
This is a beautifully written heartwarming book with wonderful three-dimensional characters, Cait, self-deprecating, book-loving, caring, Seb, the friend we all wish we had, James, skulking in the self-help section of the shop, love interest, June, strong, independent with a love for Cait that rises from the pages, Max, who always wants to try out a new recipe on Cait when she arrives with books and Dorothy, 92 but still running her dog grooming business, plus her regulars at the shop.
You can’t help but feel for Cait as she fights to keep her shop, nearly killing herself in the process, the utter despair as she realises that it is all in vain and she is about to lose everything and then the amazement as the wave of support grows, and maybe, just maybe, people power will be enough to save Book Fiend.
Many thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read this beautiful book. Highly recommended.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Last Bookshop by Emma Young. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I love to read, for many years my passion has been science fantasy but recently I’ve discovered many fabulous Australian women authors and am devouring all the new genres I am being exposed to.
In addition to reading and reviewing books I enjoy photography, spending time with my husband, daughter, grandson, 2 dogs and a cat and am an aspiring author.