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The Last Word


Where one story ends, another begins.

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Swoon Index

  • Heat

    6 (3 ratings)

  • Tears

    5 (3 ratings)

  • Laughs

    6 (3 ratings)

  • Thrills

    6 (3 ratings)

Full Description

1861. Miss Lucinda Leavitt is shocked when she learns the author of her favorite serialized novel has died before completing the story. Determined to learn how it ends, Lucinda reluctantly enlists the help of her father’s young business partner, Mr. David Randall, to track down the reclusive author’s former whereabouts.

David is a successful young businessman, but is overwhelmed by his workload. He wants to prove himself to his late father, as well as to himself. He doesn’t have the time, nor the interest, for this endeavor, but Lucinda is not the type to take no for an answer.

Their search for the elusive Mrs. Smith and the rightful ending to her novel leads Lucinda and David around the country, but the truths they discover about themselves—and each other—are anything but fictional.


Lucinda turned the next page, but she did not find the text of the story. Instead, there was a letter from the editor:

Here the story is broken off, and it can never be finished. What promised to be the crowning work of a life is a memorial of death. A few days longer, and it would have been a triumphal column, crowned with a capital of festal leaves and flowers: now it is another sort of column—one of those sad white pillars which stand broken in the churchyard.

But if the work is not quite complete, little remains to be added to it, and that little has been distinctly reflected into our minds. Which suitor would have Eurydice Emerson chosen? The handsome and mysterious Lord Dunston or the kind and generous Mr. Thisbe? Now we will never know.

Thomas Gibbs, 1861.

“But I must know!” Lucinda said aloud.

Mrs. Patton, her companion and chaperone, awoke from her doze. She was an extremely thin woman with a long face framed by mousy brown braids. She blinked several times and brought her lace handkerchief to her mouth. She sighed long and loud.

“Really, Lucinda,” she chided. “That is hardly a ladylike tone to be using.”

“She’s dead,” Lucinda said numbly.

“Who is dead?” Mrs. Patton said, sitting up straight.

“The author of She Knew She Was Right is dead,” Lucinda said. “And now the story will remain unfinished.”


A Junior Library Guild Selection

"Witty, spirited, and utterly swoon-worthy. ... Filled with fierce feminism, impeccable period detail, and a charming romance that's sure to stay with readers long after the last word." —Addie Thorley, author of An Affair of Poisons

“Great voice. Unique premise. … And who can resist a plucky heroine who is determined to help write an unfinished romance novel by her favorite author!” —B.R. Myers, author of Rogue Princess

"Hastings’ debut is a charming period piece with all the romance and scornful nods to high society any Austen fan will love. ... The Last Word is the perfect read for anyone who wants to spend a few hours in Victorian England in the company of a girl who understands that the entire country is being led by a Queen." —Booklist

"Refreshing ... Lucinda, a young Victorian woman with a modern sensibility well ahead of her time, has plenty of pluck and determination. Hastings' breezy prose and crafty plotting will leave readers racing to uncover her own last installment." —BookPage

"This book was so lovely! Lucinda’s spunky personality mixed with her independent nature made her one of my favorite female MCs ... If you love historical romance than you’ll definitely love this one!" —The Clever Reader

"I was blown away by the wonderful feminist themes throughout this book, and Hastings delivered them with such a witty punch. Lucinda is the type of heroine girls need to read about! ... This book was everything I’d hoped it would be and then some." —YA and Wine

“A great, clean, romantic, historical novel that all ages would enjoy!” —Stacy.Moon, Swoon Reader

“Make[s] history accessible to YA readers. It's light, fun, and has a modern flare that many readers will appreciate.” —Cassie Rose, Swoon Reader

"I adored this story, especially all of the characters and the very fitting humor and modern messages. ... This book was amazing!" —Bluestar, Swoon Reader