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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.
‘A novel of great spirit and tenderness.’
‘While this tale contains darkness and heartache, they are accompanied by truth and love, and ultimately, hope, and the human capacity to overcome…A sensitive, enthralling story, destined to become a favourite.’
‘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.’