It is 1968 in rural Australia. Tom Hope is trying to understand just why his wife left him. Her note didn’t help: I’m leaving. Don’t know what to say, Love Trudy. Tom has never known what to say to people. So he decides that when she comes back (if she comes back) he will think of things to make her happy. And she does come back, pregnant with another man’s child. Trudy never cares much for the boy, Peter, but Tom adores him and Peter adores Tom. So when Trudy leaves again, Tom didn’t care, because she left Peter. Of course, Tom knew Trudy would take Peter away some day, and he was right. Hanna Babel came to town about the time Peter left, and she made quite an impression on the village, outspoken, well dressed, and a Jew! She is there to open a bookshop, and hires Tom to build shelves. One thing leads to another, and when they marry, the townspeople are convinced that it will never last. After Tom and Hannah marry, the chapters alternate between the voices of Tom and Hannah. Hannah is an Auschwitz survivor and lost all of her family, including her small son. She is still trying to cope and Tom is also trying to cope with the loss of a child. This is a beautifully written story. The country, the people, are alive and real, gentle and lovable, (mostly lovable, some are really bad). It is a story about loss and love, which is pretty much what life is all about. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it.
eGalley review Publication date 4.9.19
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