The Books Featured in The Last Bookshop in London

When planning out The Last Bookshop in London, I set my eye toward making the book a celebration of reading. This meant exploring books that I have known and loved and that have impacted my life in some way. These books have been read at various times in my life, going all the way back to high school and include some of my favorite authors, like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

Some of these books chosen, however, have stories behind them.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

I’d read this book an age ago, but the idea for making it such an integral piece in The Last Bookshop in London actually came from my dad. We are a family of readers and one night, we were chatting on the phone while I was in the plotting phases and trying to narrow down which books to include. My father said, “You have to include The Count of Monte Cristo. That’s always been one of my favorites!”

And it got me thinking. Because the gift of the first book would be coming from George, it made sense that the book would be less Jane Austen and more action/adventure/treasure hunt. Truly it was the perfect book with a quick pace despite its length, one that can be appreciated by both genders. It’s a tale of loss, of accomplishment and the ultimate revenge, but also a love story 😉

Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford

My bestie is also an author. In 2020, Eliza Knight and I decided to take the plunge together into historical fiction after having both written several dozen romances. We helped one another plot, chatting research and read through each other’s completed manuscripts. It was through these chats with Eliza that I learned about Pigeon Pie.

Eliza’s book, The Mayfair Bookshop, is a story about Nancy Mitford’s life – a socialite author who struggles to find her footing in the publication world. Pigeon Pie was written during the start of WWII when there was absolutely nothing happening in England and the war was dubbed ‘the phoney war’. The piece was meant to be a wartime comedy that was very tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately, its release date in May 1940 was just a couple days after the Nazis attacked France (the country just a hop away on the other side of the English Channel). Due to the timing of the release, the book was an utter flop and a devastating blow to Nancy.

For those of you who haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight – it really peels back the layers of Nancy Mitford and it such a fabulous and fascinating read.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

When The Great Gatsby first came out, it was not well received. There are many reasons for this, but it was certainly not the success Fitzgerald assumed it would be.

In 1942, The Great Gatsby was selected to be one of the many books printed for The Armed Services Editions books. These books were made to be small enough to fit in a jacket pocket for soldiers to read while on deployment. The Great Gatsby was hugely popular among men in the trenches who really connected with the story and their own pursuit of the great American dream. The popularity of the book during WWII helped make it become the popularized novel it is today. Unfortunately F. Scott Fitzgerald died before seeing The Great Gatsby rise to fame, but he always did consider the book to be his masterpiece.

Q. Do you plan on using more book references in your future historical fiction publications?

A: I absolutely do! The Librarian Spy (coming out July 2022) features some of my favorites that include Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and The Secret Garden as well as many more. The book I’m currently working – The Keeper of Hidden Books will also include some classics, including some by popular Polish poets and authors.

If you are interested in seeing all the books mentioned in The Last Bookshop in London, check out my Book Club Reader’s Guide.

13 Comments

  1. Linda Graves on May 17, 2022 at 4:15 am

    Just finished The Last Bookshop in London. It’s 3:00 am. I loved it! Couldn’t put down so pushed to finish the book tonight. I like reading historical fiction from WWI and WWII. I can’t wait to get The Librarian Spy. Thank you for writing books for us to enjoy, learn and take us away from our daily lives for awhile.

    • Madeline Martin on August 20, 2022 at 7:23 am

      Thank you so much, Linda! I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed The Last Bookshop in London and hope you also enjoy The Librarian Spy. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to write these books 🙂

    • Nydia Teresa Johnson on September 2, 2022 at 2:41 pm

      I read first the Librarian Spy and I loved it and comments directed me to The last Bookshop in London. I am a WWI and WWII reader as well. I really think you will love the Librarian Spy.

  2. Janelle on May 24, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    Wonderful read! Will be a keeper book for me. Thank you!

    • Madeline Martin on August 20, 2022 at 7:23 am

      Thank you so much, Janelle!

  3. Elaine Erdman on June 22, 2022 at 1:17 am

    I just finished reading The Last Bookshop in London. Amazing book! I love historical fiction. I was born in 1942, and the WWll era has always fascinated me. I also love to read, so this book was perfect for me. Thoroughly enjoyable and was very moving! I will be looking to read more books by Madeline Martin.

    • Madeline Martin on August 20, 2022 at 7:24 am

      Thank you so much, Elaine! I can imagine that the World War II era would definitely fascinate with you being born in the middle of it! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book and hope you enjoy The Librarian Spy as well 🙂

  4. Pat on July 31, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Just finished , The Last Bookshop in London. It came at a time for me where I needed to be absorbed in something else when I was diagnosed with Sepsis in April. I became one with Grace just feeling the terror in London with the bombings and changing the bookstore into a success. I particularly was fascinated with the analogy of the box in her mind, where Miss Martin wrote about Grace had a forceful redirection of thoughts into that box in her mind and then the box erupted when she had to face everything that was stored in that box.

    • Madeline Martin on August 20, 2022 at 7:27 am

      Oh, Pat – I’m so sorry to hear you have been suffering from sepsis. I’m so grateful my book brought you such comfort in a difficult time. Thank you for taking the time to write to me and let me know how much you enjoyed my book and what it meant to you. I hope you are recovered by now and am sending you all my love!

  5. Jeffry W. Myers on August 6, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    In tears of happiness, I, too just completed devouring The Last Bookshop in London! In gratitude for your contribution to re-inspire my heart and emotions…You are loved and cherished….Jeffry W.Myers

    • Madeline Martin on August 20, 2022 at 7:28 am

      Thank you so much, Jeffry! I’m truly so grateful you enjoyed it.

  6. Barbara Winton on August 25, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    I lived in London through the Second World War, 8 yrs old in 1939. So I could really relate to the story told in this book. Apart from a few references that didn’t quite ring true, you captured the life and times exceedingly well. I realize It was a story about the blitz , but I was surprised that in covering the rest of the war years you didn’t even mention the horrendous destructive terrible casualties of V1 and V2 rocket attack on London This started in June 1944 and went on until war ended.

  7. Elizabeth on September 3, 2022 at 4:50 pm

    I just finished your book and enjoyed it thoroughly. Talk about transporting to a different time and place. I couldn’t help but empathize with the brutal treatment of the Ukrainians who are currently being bombed by the Russians. The bombing of London felt all too real for me.

    I loved the exchange between Grace and George regarding what it means to read and escape.
    Brava!

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