Your Preview Verdict: The Last Bookshop by Emma Young

Your Preview Verdict: The Last Bookshop by Emma Young

Cait Copper’s best friends have always been books – along with the rare souls who love them as much as she does, like the grandmotherly June. When Cait set up her shop, Book Fiend, right in the heart of the city, she thought she’d skipped straight to ‘happily ever after’. But things are changing, and fast. June’s sudden interest in Cait’s lacklustre love life and the appearance of the handsome ‘Mystery Shopper’ force her to concede there might be more to happiness than her shop and her cat. The city is transforming, with luxury chain stores circling Book Fiend’s prime location. And meanwhile, a far more personal tragedy is brewing. Soon Cait is questioning not only the viability of the shop, but the life she’s shaped around it. An unlikely band of allies is determined she won’t face these questions alone; but is a love of books enough to halt the march of progress and time?

Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:

Emma Young’s The Last Bookshop is a fabulous heartwarming tale of a small independent bookshop fighting against the big business and the online economy to survive. It is chock full of quirky, larger-than-life characters and buckets of book chat. Book Fiend is drawn as an oasis of homely warmth in the midst of a cold, sterile world devoid of personality, just like a big warm hug. The Last Bookshop is a gem of a book, and indeed a book for all book lovers. Highly recommended! Jason, VIC, 5 Stars

I fell head over heels with this book, so much that I have asked the author if there is a sequel. I loved the storyline following along Cait’s journey from dream job to troubled times and the friendships she made along the way. I loved the connection between the book store and the elderly customers, knowing that for some it was their only interaction with people and that books were one of their cherished pleasures. I loved the love story and the interaction between the two male lead characters and really want to know what happens in Cait’s future. I wish there was a book store like the Book Fiend that I could wile away hours in finding the perfect books to read. Looking forward to recommending this to all my book-loving friends. Jodi, QLD, 5 Stars

Having worked in a bookshop in Perth during my university days, this story took me right back there, from the crazy requests from customers who couldn’t remember names of books, to the excitement when new stock arrived, and the smell and enjoyment of being surrounded by books all day. I loved reading this story and could picture myself curled up on a couch enjoying a coffee and a book at the Book Fiend. It was heartwarming, joyful and sad all at once. Just a lovely read. Kristie, NSW, 5 Stars

Emma Young’s debut novel The Last Bookshop is a delight to read, and a great reflection of the current situation with bookshops. Cait Copper operates Book Fiend, an independent bookstore located in Perth’s CBD. It’s the only remaining independent bookshop in a changing economy, where changing consumer habits, the move to online shopping and businesses forced into closure by mounting costs. Cait’s life is shaped around her shop, but then there is the appearance of a mystery shopper … is there more to her happiness than the shop. I loved the characters young and old in this, reading the Last Bookshop was like stepping into a bookshop! Teresa, VIC, 5 Stars

To an avid reader, like myself, who would be quite happy reading constantly this book was an absolute gift. A true pleasure from start to regrettable finish. Loved all the characters but especially Cait for her honesty and living true to herself. About a quarter of the way through I had to get pen and paper to write down all the book recommendations as there were just so many good ones that I knew I couldn’t remember them all! This would be a perfect one for any book club to get their teeth into with many important topical subjects covered. The portrait of many physical bookshops in the current retail climate is one such topic that I think more people should talk and ponder over. Other topics touched on would be finding ways through loss and the acceptance (or not!) of inevitable change in our lives. I found myself wishing I had a bookshop like this close by and now I think when travel is happening again I’ll search out these underground gems when in new places. Bookshop tours!….. This is destined to be a favourite and the understanding felt for the reading community (my peeps) left me with a warm glow. The quote by John Updike featured in the book “ We’re all curiously alone but it’s important to keep making signals through the glass” I found especially poignant and just perfect for “The Last Bookshop”. Faye, QLD, 5 Stars

What a surprise package! At first glance, and within the early pages, I wondered if The Last Bookshop was my sort of book. But before long I was hooked. The main character Cait was likeable and relatable, I felt myself cheering her on. The story was well written and well-paced, and although I wasn’t surprised by many of the plot points, I found them enjoyable. Overall, a great read by a talented Aussie author. Nicole, NSW, 5 Stars

What a great story for a first-time author. Enjoyed the book and all the characters she wrote about. Look forward to her next book. Merril, QLD, 5 Stars

This beautiful book was as comforting as curling up with a cuppa in front of the fire on a winters day! Emma Young has an amazing way of drawing you in and feeling like you are part of the story – I could smell the ‘inkiness’ of Book Fiend and I could feel the pages between my fingers, I just wished I really did have a local bookshop just like this one. The characters were like old friends, each with their own little quirks, and Cait felt like family. Thank you Emma for writing this wonderful story that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish! Kate, VIC, 5 Stars

I can smell the tea, see the dust settle on clean bookshelves and almost feel the books that are stacked. There is a story here that made me smile, grabbed my heart and left me with a yearning to track down old CS Lewis books. You must visit The Last Bookshop, browse, people, watch and take a moment to slow down. Tess, TAS, 5 Stars

As I was reading this book, I thought of the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, where the big book shop was buying out all the little book stores in the neighbourhood. With Emma Young’s writing, I could imagine myself spending hours browsing the bookshelves, looking for that unique book I didn’t know I needed until I saw it. The story made me feel quite sad, knowing what “Book Fiend” goes through and knowing this is happening to other bookshops. I loved this book, it was easy to read on a wet weekend and it’s one of those books to read when you just want to escape and not think too hard. Kerrie, NSW, 5 Stars

I very much enjoyed this book. As a debut novel, it was well written, had a strong beginning and end, and I couldn’t find any weak spots. The characters are believable and I can relate to the central “heroine” in her love of books and the thought that books are better friends than real people at times. The author’s experience in retail and book sales, in particular, gives a good insight into what it can mean to establish a small business of this kind. Other characters were introduced at appropriate times and the interaction between these people and Cait gave the book a personal touch that kept me watching for more. The two men in her life kept the romance factor rolling along. I’ll be looking forward to more books by Emma Young. Teresa, NSW, 5 Stars

Thank you for the copy of The Last Bookshop by Emma Young. This is the story of Cait who is the small business owner of a bookshop which has always been her dream. The reality of running a business involves many parts and these were all interwoven into the story really well. I felt for all the decisions Cait had to make along the way and which ones worked and which didn’t. She has a mobile bookselling service for elderly clients which is valuable for them all but has its difficulties. She finally starts a new relationship over a love of books and life is just starting to sort itself out. When Cait is contacted about a rent rise she has to make some tough decisions and these all have consequences. She also has problems on the personal front and feels her dream is suddenly going south. This is a wonderful personal journey set in Australia, a community spirit story and an extra special book for readers. There are lessons to be learned by everyone and I would recommend as a new favourite of mine. Tara, SA, 5 Stars

A must-read for every book lover! Interesting, happy, sad, poignant and very topical. Loved all the characters, it was as heartwarming as it was heart-wrenching. A cracking read. Ros, ACT, 5 Stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. For anyone who adores reading and visiting a bookshop, it is a perfect choice. One thing I loved was the many book titles mentioned, as this brought back many wonderful memories of books I have read. Caitlin Copper, the bookshop owner, was so passionate about her small business and how her shop looked. It got me thinking about bookshops I have known and how they made me feel. My passion for books was replicated by many characters and I was inspired to consider that ‘real’ books will always be desired by book lovers. Lorraine, VIC, 5 Stars

30 something Cait Copper seems to have it made. While school friends went to uni, she drifted into working in chain bookstores until she opened Book Fiend in Perth. Now approaching its fifth anniversary, bank loans are almost paid off, and while she’ll never be a millionaire, she has a business and friends she loves, not to mention a potential Mr Right lurking in the Self-Help section… Happy ending this early in the book? I don’t think so….. Cue calamity – with her lease due for renewal, she is faced with a massive rent increase. Struggling to make ends meet, working longer, with less and less time for those she loves she realises her dream, the last independent standing, is doomed for failure… Or is it?…. Okay, so you get the gist, but The Last Bookshop has humour, empathy, insight, and tears, and lots of book references, reviews, and suggestions (I have quite the reading list now!) I really enjoyed this, it brought back memories of working in public libraries, I nodded at those face palm anecdotes, and remembered readers and connections made through the love of books. Thank you Better Reading And Emma Young for my Advance Reader Copy. Juanita, NSW, 5 Stars

I started reading this book. It was an easy read but I felt it was deteriorating into a light-hearted romance. I was disappointed but then Cait managed t break from the love interest when she realised her beloved bookshop was in danger of closing and her old friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The story then progressed outlining the problems of many small shops, especially independent bookshops. It made me realise guiltily how my practice of ordering e-Books from Amazon is affecting the livelihood of these booksellers. I related to the setting and the local history. I have lived my whole life in Western Australia and the streets and landmarks were all familiar to me. Highly recommended Sue, WA, 5 Stars

Emma Young’s, The Last Bookshop is just lovely. The characters are real and despite the story being somewhat predictable, there are still enough little surprise moments to keep your interest and make you smile. I’d definitely recommend this book. Jo, QLD, 5 Stars

What an enjoyable and relaxing read! This book has a touch of everything – romance, relationships, business dilemmas and best of all lots of commentary on books. The characters are interesting and diverse. I feel I have gained more insight into providing customer service as there are quite a few difficult customers. I am not sure I could be so patient. The overall theme of the squeezing out of independents has inspired me to change my shopping habits. Thanks for the opportunity to read this lovely book. Sandra, ACT, 5 Stars

Cait is the owner of the last suburban bookshop in Perth. She is at the mercy of her landlords who are gradually getting rid of long term shop-keepers and giving preference to big brand name stores that will pay enormous rents in high profile city areas. Cait’s store is much more than just a book shop, it is a welcoming space for all people and Cait also conducts a home delivery service to some of her vulnerable customers who are unable to get there, a service that is usually only conducted by libraries. All that changes when her landlord increases her rent and she is forced to close. It’s been a long time since I have read such a delightful book. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite many small bookshops being forced to close because they are competing with online merchants and department stores. The author was so accurate in describing the sort of questions that a customer will ask, and I did have some laugh out loud moments while reading this book. Hard to believe that this is a debut novel as the writing was excellent. Janine, VIC, 5 Stars

I love books. I love reading books, I love books themselves. So a book about a bookshop is definitely at the top of my list, and this one did not disappoint. Full of love and friendships, laughter and tears, this book has everything I need in a great story, I didn’t want it to end! Kate, QLD, 5 Stars

“The last Bookshop” by Emma Young. Wow! What a wonderful enchanting book. I loved this story from the first page to the last. I was captivated and moved as the storyline of Cait, the Book shop owner it developed from the start of this book to the end. The way the Author Emma Young managed to capture each character and intertwining them into Cait’s life and the story was truly wonderful. I could not put this book down, just had to read “another chapter” to continue on with the journey of “The last Bookshop” Cannot wait to read further works by this very talented author. Highly recommend this book, definitely a 5 Star Read. Christine, QLD, 5 Stars

The Last Bookshop tells the story of Cait Cooper who owns the ‘Book Fiend’. I could imagine myself picking this book up from the shelf of the store and curling up to read it on the shop couch. This heartwarming story introduced me to some new books and made me reflect on the importance of supporting small local business. An enjoyable read – particularly as I could visualise the places as I live in Perth. Hard to believe this is a debut novel – hopefully, the first of many. Charlotte, WA, 5 Stars

Loved it, was a great Story with really likeable Characters! Having seen some Quirky Bookshops in my time, I felt like I knew how they felt about their little slice of Heaven! Highly recommend to anyone who loves Books and the UnderDog! Karina, NSW, 5 Stars

Merril Queensland Was easy to get into this book. I really enjoyed the story and being introduced to all the characters. I will recommend this book to my friends and look forward to Emma Young’s next book! Merril, QLD, 5 Stars

Emma Young’s debut novel The Last Bookshop was a revelation: A warm and compelling story of books which I found as comfortable as a blanket on the couch. Cait Copper is living the dream in her own indie Perth bookshop until the rude intervention of a state economic crisis, an unlooked-for love interest and a devastating reality check. Cait and her friends are wonderfully drawn characters, convincing and likeable. Peripheral characters are entirely believable, as is the premise of corporate ruthlessness which comprises the plot. This is a tale both of significant determination and human vulnerability. And books! Whilst we’re all book lovers here, The Last Bookshop was a very Freo read for mine, and I loved it for that. Karen, VIC, 4 Stars

This book felt warm and comfortable, like curling up on a couch under a warm blanket (with a good book of course). I really enjoyed being inside the main character’s head as it felt like a familiar place. She was witty, clever and endearingly awkward and I could definitely see myself in her. I also loved all the divergence into what it would be like running a bookshop as that’s a bit of a fantasy of mine. Found the romantic aspect of this story the least fulfilling as I was enjoying spending time with Cait and when she got into a relationship it felt like I was losing a friend. Plus the guy was a bit unpleasant a lot of the time. Not sure I loved the ambiguous ending though I loved what happened to the bookshop. Overall, a great character to spend time with and a story I couldn’t put down. Richard, VIC, 4 Stars

What’s better than visiting a quaint bookshop? Reading about one! Since a child, Cait Copper has always loved books- they’ve always been her friends. Now as an adult, she owns and operates Book Fiend, an independent bookstore located in Perth’s CBD. It’s the only remaining bookshop left open in the area and Cait is very proud of her business. She has created a sense of community and is well-loved by the public. However, the economy is changing. Shops in the area have been forced to close down to sell off to bigger chains. Cait thought her unique business was safe in its prime location. Until she received a notice from her leaser.. Now she has to fight to keep her dream alive. Perfect for book lovers, The Last Bookshop is a promising debut for journalist Emma Young. I especially appreciated all the book and author references scattered throughout this charming story about taking on the big guys with vengeance. It’s a huge reminder to support our small business owners! Bec, QLD, 4 Stars

Are you a book lover? Do you love to browse in your local bookshop or Op shop for that special title? Do you wait impatiently for your favourite author’s latest release? If your answer is “Yes!” then you are in for a treat! Emma Young’s debut novel, “The Last Bookshop” creates the perfect zone for the reader to lose themselves in a contemporary story of friendship, love, heartbreak, resilience, innovation and new beginnings. Caitlin Copper loves books and her bookshop. Hers is the last remaining owner-operated business in the evolving CBD of Perth. Cait faces challenging time, not only in her work but in her personal life as well. Big money and big business are intent on forcing her out of her beautiful, bespoke bookshop. The most important relationships in her life also pose challenges for Cait. I loved the references to well-known book titles that I had read, throughout the text, and was excited to discover new ones to read. A wonderful read for those who love books, well-developed characters and excellent writing. Sandra, NSW, 4 Stars

A love of books enough to halt the march of progress? I hope so. How many times have we gone to our favourite store to find it closed and a large retailer moved in? Independent stores are the heartbeat of communities. I don’t want to imagine a future where I can’t pop into a beautiful shop like Book Fiend, buy a book just because it looks amazing, smell the new paper, touch a stunning hardcover book, and discover a new world to get lost in. Cait’s love interest James is a shallow man. He’s more interested in the idea of Cait than Cait herself. He didn’t want the messiness of a real girlfriend, he wanted an ideal. How could she possibly live up to that? In the end, I think that she finds an honest love though. Cait’s relationships with her housebound customers was endearing, especially her love for June. June was special, and a wonderful mother figure. To see these characters fight for Cait was wonderful. Those moments in the story where they rallied, along with Cait’s friend and employee Seb, to save Book Fiend, made me want to cheer. Long live Cait and Book Fiend. Sharon, NSW, 4 Stars

Book Fiend is that bookstore you want to go and lose yourself in when you have (and may not have) the time to do.. its run by Cait, and we see the value of community through her eyes as she experiences the highs and lows that life throws us both at work and play .. and as we know, it’s sometimes the unexpected people that are there when we need to support the most. I really enjoyed The Last Bookshop, reading it in one sitting on a rainy Sunday… wish there were still shops like hers close by.. Leticia, QLD, 4 Stars

Great to see a book written in a contemporary Australian context which, highlighted and dealt with a range of different themes which we see frequently today, such as, relationships, grief and burden, financial burdens, and social media’s influences. The themes flow through the entirety of this book, in ways that you could see a different choice could have changed the character development and the entire plot as a result of this. Emma has written this book in such a clever way to make the reader relate to the themes and characters so well. A cleverly and well-written book. David, TAS, 4 Stars

Cait, the main protagonist and owner of Book Fiend was a likeable character whose passion of books and her love of sharing them was evident in the welcoming environment of her bookshop, with the way she was able to recommend books for all reading types, young and old and with her enthusiasm to go above and beyond even conducting a home delivery service for her vulnerable customers. It was devasting when the rent on her shop is increased by the landlord by an unrealistic 30% increase resulting in the unforeseeable future of Book Fiend closing down for good. This book was filled with delightful customers that made you feel invested in Cait and the outcome of Book Fiend the same way that they were, particularly June who was like a grandmother to Cait. The fight she had for Cait and her determination was so awe-inspiring. Mandie, SA, 4 Stars

I have always dreamed of working in a bookshop and luckily, like Cait Copper owner of “Book Fiend” I do so I was immediately drawn to “The Last Bookshop” by Emma Young. I absolutely loved how Young has peppered the plot with all the little quirks and delightful tricks of the trade of a bookseller. How eucalyptus oil removes price sticker residue and the daily dances of hauling trolleys with squeaky wheels beyond the snug realms of the store in the hope that passers-by may be tempted by a sweet sale. Bookshops are deeply personal to not only staff but also to those customers who love to wander the aisles and browse in search of their next literary adventure. Young has captured this personal connection just beautifully and describes how books connect humans in the most intimate of ways. Books comfort us and become our go-to for refuge especially to those we have cherished since childhood. Young has used this to support the trials and tribulations of not only her own struggles of trying to adapt to the ever-changing retail landscape but to those real-life struggles of her characters through heartbreak, health, age and career. Friendships are tested in this story, however, the love and support that they show Cait Cooper and her battle to save the love of her life, her shop “Book Fiend” is truly uplifting. A really enjoyable read for anyone who adores books, regularly finds themselves roaming shelves of their favourite bookshops and enjoys the company of like-minded booklovers, you will love this story! Leanne, NSW, 4 Stars

The Last Bookshop, a debut novel by Western Australian author, Emma Young is begging to be curled up with and read in one sitting on a rainy day. The story about a young girl, Cait, trying to save her small business from extinction because of increased rent and development proposal is a common one but Emma tells it in a unique way. Her experience in owning a bookshop gives a new perspective to the process, and the characters involved. Plus she alludes to so many books and gives unobtrusive reviews of them that you could make a list of Emma Young’s Fifty Books to Read Before You Die and be assured of fifty ‘good reads’. The characters are engaging and the reader is easily drawn into their everyday lives. There is June, Cait’s friend, mentor and wise woman figure; Seb the shop assistant who keeps his cards very close to his chest, behind his big heart. Dorothy the elderly flamboyant stiletto-wearing dog groomer; James the man she can’t quite read and Max her grandfatherly protector. These and the other customers and antagonists who pass through the doors of The Book Fiend each day, create a small society that we get to know well. Having owned my own second hand/new bookshop, I found the book very relatable and enjoyable. If you are a bookshop loiterer or a reader or a watcher of people I am sure you will enjoy it too. Janette, NSW, 4 Stars

The Last Bookshop follows the story of Cait, the owner of the last independent store on Hay Street in Perth. Having always felt most at peace surrounded by books and book lovers alike, Cait is completely content with her life with her bookshop – the Book Fiend. Will the Book Fiend become the next independent store to be lost to another chain? Can Cait compete? This story felt a little close to home as a local independent store in my area struggled to stay open. They to could not compete with the big players. Sadly one day everything will be digital. That aside, the book was a good read. Four stars. Jonathon, NSW, 4 Stars

The Last Bookshop is a wonderful debut novel by journalist Emma Young. Cait is a bookshop owner and book enthusiast whose social life revolves around her quirky independent bookshop and mobile bookselling service hand-picking and delivering titles to elderly clients. Due to circumstances out of her control Cait’s life is turned upside down forcing her to reevaluate her life as the last bookseller on the strip and her relationship to those dear to her including her loyal customers. As a book nerd, I loved the references to books and authors throughout the novel. The book made me laugh, cry and left me uplifted knowing when things get tough the community of book lovers came together to fight against big corporate takeover to help save Cait’s little independent book shop. Krystine, VIC, 4 Stars 

What a great debut book by Anna Young. I am really enjoying all the books that are coming out that are set here in Australia, it is great to read about of places right here at home. This book resonated with me so much as I to have a local independent bookshop (Riverbend Books in Bulimba) that I call my second home. I remember conversing with the owner when eBooks were taking off, or when those global companies invaded Australia which threatened the ability for the local stores to compete. We also have a great community that gathered around our store and it is still going strong. This part of the story read so true. I thought the characters were wonderfully written, although there were times, I wanted to smack Cait because there was one character I didn’t much like… but that’s life right. Overall, this was a really cozy, easy to read book that highlighted human relationships, the good and the bad and the wonderful sense of community we might not know is right around us. Di, QLD, 4 Stars

For booklovers, Emma Young’s ‘The Last Bookshop’ is like a warm, cosy blanket. It’s a feel-good story with great character descriptions that makes you not only want to spend time with Cait in her shop but with her other friends and customers as well. Whilst I think the plot is a little predictable I still found it a very enjoyable read. I enjoyed the Australian setting and references to actual places. Cait’s dream is so relatable and her struggle so believable that I found myself really hoping things would work out for her and Seb. If you are looking for a feel-good read, this is a great choice. Steph, NSW, 4 Stars

What a delightful book. It was extremely hard to put down. A delightful tale about a lovely bookshop and I loved reading what it would be like running a book store. My best friend is exactly like the main character. A beautiful story of love, books, quaintness and romance….all rolled into one. Makes me want to follow my passion, and buy that gorgeous little book store on the corner! Jodie, VIC, 4 Stars

The Last Bookshop by Emma Young sounded like such a delightful book but I found it very hard to get into it. It’s extremely well written and I love the little references to other classic works. Pleasant characters. Very true to our current day and the sad loss of our independents but I personally felt it was missing something, especially in the beginning. Katrina, QLD, 3 Stars

If like me, you dream of one day owning a bookshop, then you will enjoy this debut novel from Emma Young who writes from firsthand experience. Cait Cooper is the struggling but happy owner of The Book Fiend, the city’s last bookshop and Hay Street’s last independent retailer. Other independent businesses have been muscled out of the popular shopping strip by large multinationals, and now those multinationals are coming for Cait. A letter from her landlord announcing a 30 percent rent increase forces her to lay off staff and carry the business by herself, but even that may not be enough to ward off closure. At the same time her business is being thrown around by turbulence, so to is her new romance. Add to the mix a personal tragedy and we have a page-turning drama that had me all in. This book reads like a Hallmark movie. It’s sad, funny, sweet and heartwarming. The characters are endearing and the plot is engaging (admittedly, it took a few chapters to warm up). As a book lover, I enjoyed reading about the encounters a bookseller has with different kinds of customers and counting off the titles that Cait recommended which I have also read and enjoyed. If you’re a reader of physical books, this story will reinforce your love of them. And if you buy your books online, this story serves as a timely reminder of why local bookstores need our support. Even with the very real challenges, Cait faces in today’s economic climate, I’m still left dreaming of owning a bookshop… Eynas, SA, 3 Stars

Publisher details

The Last Bookshop
Emma Young
Fremantle Press
02 March, 2021


Cait Copper’s best friends have always been books – along with the rare souls who love them as much as she does, like the grandmotherly June. When Cait set up her shop, Book Fiend, right in the heart of the city, she thought she’d skipped straight to ‘happily ever after’. But things are changing, and fast. June’s sudden interest in Cait’s lacklustre love life and the appearance of the handsome ‘Mystery Shopper’ force her to concede there might be more to happiness than her shop and her cat. The city is transforming, with luxury chain stores circling Book Fiend’s prime location. And meanwhile, a far more personal tragedy is brewing. Soon Cait is questioning not only the viability of the shop, but the life she’s shaped around it. An unlikely band of allies is determined she won’t face these questions alone; but is a love of books enough to halt the march of progress and time?
Emma Young
About the author

Emma Young

After five years in bookselling, Emma retrained as a journalist and has been reporting since 2011: first for community papers, then as a statewide digital journalist for WAtoday. Her work also regularly appears in sister publications the Age and the Sydney Morning HeraldThe Last Bookshop was shortlisted for the inaugural Fogarty Literary Award in 2019.

Books by Emma Young


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