The Lost Bookshop Book Club Questions and Discussion Guide

In The Lost Bookshop, Woods combines sweeping imagery imbued with magical realism into a charmingly woven tale which will immerse your group into an enthralling discussion. Told through the perspectives of three characters, in alternating chapters and timelines. Each story is centered around books and the search for a lost manuscript.

Use these The Lost Bookshop book club questions to prompt discussion around the themes of abuse, freedom, love, and history. Aside from the ten book club questions, The Lost Bookshop discussion guide also contains a synopsis and some selected reviews. At the very end of the guide, there are three book suggestions for your next book club read if you enjoyed this genre.

The Lost Bookshop Book Club Questions, with book cover.

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The Lost Bookshop Synopsis

(We always chose to provide the publisher synopsis because we feel that it’s worthwhile to discuss whether the official book description actually squared with your experience of the book.)

The Lost Bookshop, Evie Woods

On a quiet street in Dublin, a lost bookshop is waiting to be found…

For too long, Opaline, Martha and Henry have been the side characters in their own lives.

But when a vanishing bookshop casts its spell, these three unsuspecting strangers will discover that their own stories are every bit as extraordinary as the ones found in the pages of their beloved books. And by unlocking the secrets of the shelves, they find themselves transported to a world of wonder… where nothing is as it seems.

The Lost Bookshop Book Club Questions

These questions have been tailored to this book’s specific reading experience, but if you want more ideas, we also have an article with 101 generic book club questions.

  1. There is a lot of mystery surrounding Madame Bowden, what did you think about her? Did she ever exist, was she real or magical? If she didn’t exist, who was paying Martha to look after her? 
  1. When the book reveals that Martha is related to Opaline, were you surprised by this revelation or did you suspect it? If so, when did you start to suspect it?
  1. “I climbed the stairs, reading the words that Mr. Fitzpatrick painted there. “In a place called lost, strange things are found.” I certainly felt strange and out of place.” 

    Book quotes are heavily used throughout the novel inspiring the characters, do you have any quotes that inspire you? Would you get a tattoo of the quote?
  1. How do symbols throughout the novel relate to and inform the novel’s themes? How do the three major themes of the novel connect and influence each other?
  1. Compare the three main characters: Opaline, Martha, and Henry. How do their relationship with books differ and what do these differences reveal about their personalities?
  1. There are recurring motifs throughout the novel, considering the motif of love and relationships in this novel, what role does love play in the struggles and actions of each of the main characters?
  1. “Lost is not a hopeless place to be, It is a place to be, It is a place of patience, of waiting. Lost does not mean gone forever. Lost is a bridge between worlds, where the pain of our past can be transformed into power.” 

    These lines are a quote from A Place Called Lost, that inspires a sense of purpose and belonging for Martha. What other books or quotes from the novel inspired other characters in the book?
  1. The story uses the recurring motif of books and their power in people’s lives. Why do you think books have such a transformative influence? What book or author is impactful in your own life?
  1. Martha is the central character in the plot’s elements of magical realism. How does magical realism enhance or detract from the comprehension of the book’s narrative?
  1. What is the purpose of the two parallel timelines? How does the alternating of characters between these timelines influence the impact and reception of the story?
  1.  Opaline and Martha both escape abusive situations and show resilience against oppression, but they approach choices differently. How do their approaches to decision making affect their lives?

Selected Reviews of The Lost Bookshop

(Use these selected Goodreads reviews to compare with your own experience of the book. Do you agree or disagree with the reviews?)

“The first half of this book was really quite great. I loved the alternating perspectives, the introduction of the possibility of magic was exciting, the characters felt interesting and the prospect of where the book was taking me seemed promising. However, then we got to the second half of the book, where the author lost me, lost the plot and lost their mind. It was as though the author didn’t know where the first half of her book was taking her and then wrote a bunch of gibberish down just to finish it…”

“Intriguing premise, and some rarely tackled heavy subject matter. Disappointed by the writing workshop execution. As an example: no one who has ever texted anyone would communicate the way these characters do with one another, they are completely implausible. One is left feeling as though the author isn’t so much bringing an analysis of humans to her characters as connecting a list of plot points.”

“This is the type of book that reminds me why I love reading so very much. The blurb doesn’t do the full scope of this book justice. It’s a book about books mystery across time with twists and turns and emotions and tension. It was just brilliant, romantic where it needed to be, emotional where it needed to be and always utterly gripping. The writing was beautiful and entrancing, I loved the characters, they felt so real and I felt incredibly invested in their stories.”

“I went into this expecting a light, heartwarming read and got so much more. This is not only a story about books and the people who love, collect, study, and treasure them, but it’s a story about women carving out their own second chances and escaping abuse. What didn’t work for me was the ambiguity of the magic. In order for me to suspend my disbelief and accept magical elements in a story, they have to make sense.”


Use our guide to find dozens of book ideas for your group.

Books Similar to The Lost Bookshop

If you love the whole meta them about books about books or set in bookshops, I SO have you covered. Try these: books set in bookstores, books set in libraries, books featuring librarians, AND books about books (manuscrips and texts).

The Echo of Lost Books, book cover.

The Echo of Old Books, Barbara Davis

This story unfolds across dual timelines narrated in alternating chapters about a rare-book dealer who finds an unpublished book and reads it, discovering a fascinating romance between Hemi and Belle. Then receives a second book which echoes the first novel but is written from a different perspective. Inspired, Ashlyn tries to unravel the mystery of their tragic romance. The book explores themes of heartbreak, tragedy, and two sides of the story.   

The Keeper of Lost Things book cover.

The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan

A story told in a dual narrative that centers around two women, with parallel storylines. After losing a beloved keepsake, Anthony wants redemption by rescuing as many lost objects and reuniting them with their owners. He hires a woman, Laura to do just that. The book covers themes of grief, the importance of simple things, and the joy of storytelling.

Lost Apothecary book cover

The Lost Apothecary, Sarah Penner

A historical fiction novel that toggles between the 18th century and a present day timeline, alternating between three characters. Nella, a apothecary owner, dispenses poison to help liberate women from the men that harm them. Major themes used throughout the novel are betrayal, trust, and female agency.

Read this one for book club and use our Lost Apothecary discussion guide.

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