Writing The Last Bookshop in London

There’s one thing you should know about me: I love history! I love reading about it, visiting historical sites, letting my imagination reside there for longer than it probably should and, of course, losing myself in historical fiction.

I think the progression of a shift toward writing fiction after years of historical romance is an entirely natural one for me, especially in regard to the WWII era which has always been a favorite of mine to read. I have always found it fascinating how even in such dire times, the most incredible heroes rose from unlikely places, how some sacrificed to save strangers and through it all, how people were able to hold onto hope.

Britain, for example, was subjected to the Blitz where the Nazis rained down bombs for seven months with the heaviest damage having been sustained in London. At the start of the Blitz on September 7, 1940, London was bombed for 56 consecutive days. This happened not only at night, but also during the day. That was almost two months of their nights spent in crowded, uncomfortable shelters rather than their beds as well as their daily lives being interrupted by the air raids, all while under the constant fear that wherever they were might be a bomber’s next target.

During the seven month bombings on Britain, over 40,000 civilians were killed and over 100,000 injured while millions left homeless. Of those horrifying figures, nearly 30,000 of the casualties were in London as were 60% of the destroyed homes.

Many Londoners assumed volunteer positions at night after their day job in an effort to do their bit for Britain, taking on positions as nurses, fire fighters, Air Raid Precautions Wardens or even manning mobile cantinas to bring tea and comfort to those in need.

A backdrop such as this is an incredible inspiration for a WWII historical fiction, especially after I learned about a particularly brutal bombing of the publishing district on Paternoster Row at the end of 1940 when over 5 million books were destroyed. In such horrific events, it is often that we find ourselves coming together as a community to overcome our struggles and, in my opinion, there is no better community than one centered on books.

As a lifelong reader, I can attest to the number of difficulties books have helped me through. And so the idea of a small bookshop bringing together the people of London in such trying times came about.

In addition to sharing the experience Londoners endured during the Blitz, I also wanted The Last Bookshop in London to be a celebration of reading. It is entirely for this reason that I made the heroine, Grace Bennett, not much of a reader when the book first begins. Hers is a journey of discovery, not only of what she is capable of in such desolate times, but also into the magical of reading. It is through her eyes that I want readers to recall those delicious moments where that one perfect book throws open the doors of one’s imagination and pulls them into the incredible world of reading.

Writing The Last Bookshop in London was an incredible experience for me, one I hope readers enjoy as they share in Grace’s experience through the war and through books and finding hope through it all.

 

 

16 Comments

  1. joan mccloskey on July 3, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    i was in the WLA stationed far from London so didnt know much about the bombingd sadly.
    just read The last bookshop ,,,,,,,,,, and loved it.Thank.you.
    by the way…..I came to the US in 1946 as a GI bride,am al most 97 and a book a holic. ,(is there such a word?????)
    best regards,Joan

    • Madeline Martin on July 3, 2021 at 6:45 pm

      Thank you so much, Joan! I’m so glad you enjoyed my book! And there is absolutely such a thing as a bookaholic – I’m one too 🙂 That’s so incredible that you were in the WLA – thank you for sharing!

  2. Audrey McC on July 18, 2021 at 7:26 pm

    I loved The Last Bookshop in London .. I have read many WWII historical fiction books but this is the first one centered on The Blitz and how the ordinary folks in London handled it … please , please will there be a sequel ?!

    • Madeline Martin on July 19, 2021 at 6:18 am

      Thank you for reaching out, Audrey 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed The Last Bookshop in London. While I don’t have a prequel in mind, I am considering an idea for another WWII set in England again. Currently, I’m working on another WWII set in Portugal and France which will be releasing in 2022. 🙂

  3. Beth Mulhern on August 11, 2021 at 2:45 am

    My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this book / I am a literature buff, a former English 101 professor and have a great (but frustrated) desire to write. Thank you so much for this delightful work, and we so look forward to reading your upcoming novel in 2022.
    Beth Mulhern
    Homeland, California

    • Madeline Martin on August 12, 2021 at 4:42 am

      Hi, Beth – thank you so much for taking the time to comment and let me know how much you and your husband enjoyed my book. That’s so wonderful that you want to write. It can be frustrating, but if you do a little every day, I bet you’ll have a completed book before you know it! Definitely keep at it if it’s something your heart wants.
      Thank you for looking forward to my next book – I’m so happy with how it’s coming along! 🙂

  4. Debbie on August 17, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Hi Madeline! I just want to tell you how very refreshing your book The Last Bookshop in London was! I enjoyed it so much as I love historical fiction and romance! I am always drawn in by WW11 stories! Most appreciated, as your storytelling was so good, was that it was so clean and pure! I am proud of you! To be a best selling author without vulgarity and sex- you have proved how well it can be done and I thank you so much! Keep writing and keep shining!

    Best regards,

    Debbie from upstate NY

    • Madeline Martin on August 21, 2021 at 8:14 am

      Hi, Debbie! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed my book so much! Thank you for reaching out and letting me know! 🙂

  5. Christine Schreyer on August 20, 2021 at 11:14 pm

    Hi! I loved The Last Bookshop in London. I started reading this on my summer holidays & couldn’t put it down. In fact, I let my six year old watch an extra hour of TV so I could finish it peacefully. 😂 Books set during WWII have been something I am drawn to since I was 10 or 11 when I read the Guests of War Trilogy by Kit Pearson & this one definitely added a new perspective! Please write more historical fiction!

    • Madeline Martin on August 21, 2021 at 8:15 am

      Hi, Christine – thank you for reaching out! LOL I’ve been there before with letting the kids get a little more TV for more book time 😉 I’m so glad you enjoyed it so much! I definitely am writing more historical fiction and will be releasing my next one next year in 2022 🙂

      • Linda Proctor on October 1, 2021 at 10:39 pm

        Just found your book in the new section of our library. I was intrigued by the title and boy was I glad I brought it home with me.
        I could not put it down once I started it.
        So interested in the history you brought
        Out in the book. Will be looking for more of your books. I love to read thank you for your donation for our entertainment.

  6. Mary Wagner on October 4, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    My daughter (a true bookaholic) found The Last Bookshop in London and passed it on to me. We both really loved it (the bookaholic gene was passed from my mother to me and then on to my daughter). I suggested the book to my book club and we will be discussing it tonight. I’m sure they all will have loved it. We wondered it we wanted “another” WWII” book, but they continue to keep us entertained and interested.

  7. Linda Gruson on October 11, 2021 at 4:59 am

    Thank you for this very compelling book. My mother grew up during the Blitz in Manchester and your book helped me to understand her experience. As a book lover, I was dismayed to read of the destruction of Paternoster Row. I have visited the area and did not even know it had been the centre for books in London. Despite the dark times of the war, it was inspiring to read of the heroism and sacrifices of ordinary people.
    Thank you for a great read. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  8. Cindy Dougherty on October 19, 2021 at 10:28 am

    I loved The Last Bookshop in London. I love books that are historically correct and transport you to another time and place. This was the first book I have read by Ms. Martin and I look forward to reading more by her. Thank you!

  9. Josie Field - A Texas fan on October 25, 2021 at 6:18 pm

    Such a great read and good historical details and information. I read it and then suggested it for my sisters (we have a new zoom book club spread between Ohio, Texas, and Arizona) and to my local book club. Loved your characters’ descriptions and the slow and steady development of friendships. Thank you for your gift to us and we look forward to 2022 when we can continue to enjoy your storytelling.

  10. Pamela Iny on October 26, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    I agree with your other readers. I’ve read books on WWII, but none that details the bravery of everyday Londoners during the first year. I loved your little ‘Englishisms’ of the period. You jolted my memory of the language of my Mum and aunts. Many thanks for a good read.

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