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The Little Penguin Bookshop by Joanna Toye : a review

I’m delighted to be sharing Laura’s guest review about The Little Penguin Bookshop by Joanna Toye.

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book cover for The Little Penguin Bookshop by Joanna Toye.  A woman in a pink gingham dress is holding a stack of books standing in a library

The Little Penguin Bookshop by Joanna Toye

  • Category : Historical Fiction
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin; 1st edition (11 April 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1804946052
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1804946053
  • Amazon | Waterstones | Goodreads

The Little Penguin Bookshop Summary

Books can change lives, even in wartime. . .

When World War II breaks out, Carrie Anderson sets up a bookstall at her local train station in the hope of providing a sense of escapism for travellers, troops and evacuees.

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and armed with a colourful array of Penguin paperbacks, Carrie’s business soon booms. And when she gifts a book to a dashing officer, an act of kindness becomes the beginning of Carrie’s very own love story.

But as war rages on, and Mike is posted abroad, Carrie’s world is turned upside-down.

With the help of her station community, and the power of her paperbacks, can Carrie find the strength to battle through?

The Little Penguin Bookshop Review

I raced through The Little Penguin Bookshop as I really enjoyed the characters and their heartwarming story.

Set at the beginning of the Second World War, Carrie Anderson sets up a bookstall at her local train station. Feeling stuck in her parent’s shop, she was desperate to contribute to the war effort but in her own unique way. Selling Penguin books at the same price as a packet of cigarettes she soon discovers herself busier and more prosperous than she had originally foreseen.

I enjoyed the many characters in Carrie’s life. Her twin brother supported Carrie in her new venture as his thirst for adventure and love of airplanes, he became a RAF Pilot and this cemented her need for more in her life. Andrew officer rushes into her book stall in between his trains and as they shared their love of books and stories a relationship started to blossom.

As more men were sent off to France, Carrie is dismayed to hear that Mike also left. With news of Dunkirk several characters in Carrie’s world fail to come home.

I felt a little irked when Mike and Carrie discussed childhood books and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was mentioned. As this book was published in 1950, I was a little dismayed to notice this detail.

Other than this, I thoroughly enjoyed the story and really felt for Carrie and Mike. Even with the spoils of war, I was surprised with the ending.

A lovely read.

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About the Author

After a career in radio and TV, producing and writing for programmes ranging from The Archers to EastEnders, Joanna turned to historical novels to create her very own fictional world. Her bestselling Shop Girls and Victory Girls series, following three shop girls in a department store in World War Two, their families and friends, have been called ‘a cross between Mr Selfridge and Call the Midwife for their warm sense of family and community in an authentic period setting. The Little Penguin Bookshop is the first novel in a brand new series.

Formerly a confirmed city girl, Joanna has recently relocated to the Somerset countryside to be closer to her daughter and small granddaughters, and is loving every minute of her new life. @JoannaToye

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