‘Devotion’ by Hannah Kent, published 3rd February 2022, is a new bookseller favourite. The eagerly anticipated (and now very battered) proof, pictured above has been passed around many of team and prompted a great deal of discussion.

We have signed and numbered indie exclusive editions with matching sprayed edges and exclusive endpapers available instore and online.

See below for Bookshop Manager Ruth’s review (previously published on Instagram, @ruthiereading).

After reading Devotion many weeks ago, the impact of this quietly powerful novel is still hard to articulate.

It is the story of a village community of Old Lutherans, in Prussia at the turn of the 19th century, persecuted for their beliefs. Hanne, at almost 15, feels at odds with her peers, a child of nature, on the cusp of womanhood, until she forms a bond with newcomer Thea, another outsider like herself. It is a turning point in Hanne’s life. The understanding and affinity between the girls unspoken but all consuming, easing the burden she feels of encroaching adulthood and family demands.

When the community receives word that they have passage to the new colonies in Australia, there is rejoicing at the promised religious freedoms ahead. Yet all that matters to Hanne is that she not be separated from Thea.

The deprivations and hardship on board their ship to Australia are stark and fear inducing – I read much of this with my heart in knots – the real dangers faced and the inadequacy of medical knowledge meant illness was rife and many did not survive the journey.

When the community reaches Australia, there is a duality to the narrative; both historical storytelling and modern day sorrow for the damage done to native land and first people. The settlers struggle to tame the land, yet their joy, determination and will to build this new home and place of freedom drives them onward. Through Hanne’s eyes we see the stark beauty of this new world which transforms her. Overarching, and at the heart of the narrative also, is the quiet intimacy of body and heart, the deep-rooted simplicity, love and devotion between the two young women.

Hannah Kent has created something so special here. It required patience and (spoiler) a major shift in my thinking midway through… but oh, it is so worth it. This incredible story of place and people is a reminder of the acts of faith and devotion which bind individuals and community. It’s a song of remembrance, wonder, grief and hope, speaking to the deep places of heart and soul, marvelling at creation and our own small time here. This book broke me and made me cry. Holy and breathless, it’s a thing of beauty.

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