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Tom Hope doesn’t think he’s much of a farmer, but he’s doing his best. He can’t have been much of a husband to Trudy, either, judging by her sudden departure. It’s only when she returns, pregnant to someone else, that he discovers his surprising talent as a father. So when Trudy finds Jesus and takes little Peter away with her to join the holy rollers, Tom’s heart breaks all over again.
Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic smalltown bookseller: the second Jew—and the most vivid person—Tom has ever met. He dares to believe they could make each other happy.
But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a batttle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.
‘Hillman’s prose is a pleasure to read, elegantly alert to the paradox of strong feeling [and] full of poetry.’
‘Counting against all [the] business is Hillman’s gift for compelling characters, the elegance of his prose and his genius with inventive, surprising dialogue.‘
‘While it may not be a novel’s main purpose, certainly one of its pleasures can lie in how it witnesses the history of the form itself…Robert Hillman’s Joyful is most immediately a nineteenth-century novel, a detailed work that portrays an entire, sealed world of complex and ultimately connected storylines.’