The bookseller at the end of the world

By Ruth Shaw

Published by Allen & Unwin

RRP $38

A casual once over glance at the many shelves in a bookshop could cause you to miss this book but I strongly urge that, if you are a non-fiction fan looking for powerful human life stories, of adventure, of twists ’n turns, of dramatic incidents, surprises and an interest in the human psyche and the about sincere love, then this book is a must for you.

Look closely at the cover, consider the light white sky, feel the dark Fiordland bush edges then find your eyes drawn to the bottom right corner where a bright light surrounds Ruth’s black shadow—the gold and the gloom. Further clues inside the cover featuring tea and coffee cups mixed with a mix of books give further meaning to the contents ahead.

Once I got settled in my comfy place, I found I could not put this book down. Ruth had me tightly in her grip. I consumed every single page and there she was smiling as I reached the end. I smiled too—with empathy, compassion and admiration.

At peace now in Manapouri surrounded by native bush, with Lance and her books, or should that read as her books and Lance? Ruth’s life story offers up a full range of life’s trauma, crime, adventure, romance, success, failure, wealth, poverty, despair and fulfilment often in remote locations in Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and sailing the world’s oceans.

Cleverly inserted between each ‘life chapter’ is a ‘character chapter’ where the reader gets to meet the varied characters that visit her Wee Bookshops. Each is a joy to behold and provides a moment of light relief from the drama of the main chapters. It also gives power for the reader to understand her later years as her love of books and for Lance become her salvation.

A book to be highly recommended as a gift for any sincere friend or adventurous spirit contemplating the world ahead, or as a special gift for someone needing a ‘pick me up’ or a reflective assist in our muddled world. A real treasure to be added to anyone’s collection.

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