BOOK CLUB: The Last Bookshop

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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.

ISBN: 9781925816303

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.

5 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Last Bookshop

  1. What a truly amazing book, it’s hard to believe that it’s a debut novel! Emma Young is an extremely talented author who makes the characters come to life and weaves such a rich tapestry of emotion around you that you can’t help but go along for the ride.
    At it’s most basic, it’s a simple story of a normal woman fighting to hold onto her dream in the face of the realities of today – ereaders, online ordering and large corporations leaving small businesses in their dust. And yet it’s so much more than that. The depth and expanse of emotions, the warmth of love in all of its forms, the details that let you see what the author is seeing but don’t bog you down and, of course, books – the descriptions, the quotes, the authors and titles mentioned all make you want to go out and discover something new or dive back into an old favourite.
    Thank you Beauty & Lace and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read such a fantastic book. I look forward to Emma Young’s next novel with an excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time.

  2. Wow! What an entertaining and heartwarming book to read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and I couldn’t put it down until I’d devoured every last word.
    I’m a Perth girl and having the story setting based in my home town was extra special. In fact Cait’s bookshop reminded me so much of the Elizabeth’s Bookstore in Fremantle.
    Cait has always dreamed of owning her bookstore, she has pretty much sunk her last dollar into realizing her dream. Cait provides much more than just books, she really cares about her customers including having a mobile service delivering books to her less mobile customers. Cait seems to be such a beautiful soul and I loved reading how her community rallied around her in her battle to keep her dream alive. The author does an amazing job describing each character and I was totally emotionally invested in all of them, some parts of the story line brought me to tears.

    I enjoyed reading this book so much, I am tempted to read it again which is something I rarely do!
    Thank you BeautyandLace and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read The Last Bookshop, I loved it! I would definitely be keen to read more books by Emma Young in the future and highly recommend this book.

  3. Thank you Beauty & Lace and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read and review Emma Young’s The Last Bookshop.
    I loved this book. It was the perfect mix of nostalgia, different and complex relationships, combined with a fitting and timely storyline.
    Cait felt like the character I would want to be. She had the fight and commitment to what she loved, being both her bookshop and the enduring relationships of her life, that it made me wonder if I could see the battles through the way she did.
    Emma Young managed to bring to life a world I’m sure many of us have dreamed of being a part of. The struggles weren’t sugar-coated, and kept coming, but through a fierce, independent and committed character like Cait they were worked through and beaten in a great tale of the little guy winning.
    The Last Bookshop will stay with me, and has already made me re-think and adjust my book purchasing habits. I have a long list of bookshops to visit and support.
    Highly recommended.

  4. The Last Bookshop is a heartwarming novel that definitely gives readers food for thought as we see firsthand the struggles of an independent bookshop owner. This story of love, friendship and determination, full of bookish references and charming customers was such a delight to read!

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Fremantle Press for providing a copy for review

  5. The Last Bookshop’ is Emma Young’s debut novel and is a delight to read. Cait Copper operates ‘Book Fiend’, the only remaining independent bookshop in Perth, WA. The bookshop is Cait’s life but running a small business is not easy in the current environment. There are challenges when the landlord raises the rent but there are supportive customers who are like family to Cait.
    I really enjoyed this book. If you like reading and browsing bookshops then this book is for you. There are so many titles mentioned throughout the book which not only brought back wonderful memories of books I had read but also gave me a new list of books to read and to revisit.
    Would be a great bookclub read.

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