This bookshop keeps many secrets
Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never show you.
Into her refuge - the York book emporium where she works - come a poet, a lover, a friend, and three mysterious deliveries, each of which stirs unsettling memories.
Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past and she can't hide any longer. She must decide who around her she can trust. Can she find the courage to right a heartbreaking wrong? And will she ever find the words to tell her own story?
It's time to turn the pages of her past . . .
Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, perfect for fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.
Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland is published today; 20 April 2017, in paperback by Bonnier Zaffre. I'm a big fan of Stephanie Butland's writing. I have read and reviewed her two previous books here on Random Things: Surrounded By Water (also published as Letters To My Husband) in April 2014 and The Other Half of my Heart in November 2015.
Once again, as with her two previous novels, this very talented author has created a cast of extraordinary characters, headed by Loveday Cardew; possibly one of the most infuriating, yet lovable fictional females that I've met in many years.
On first meeting, the reader would be forgiven for feeling envy towards Loveday. She cycles the narrow cobbled York streets to her job in a second-hand bookshop. Her boss, Archie is wonderful, both caring and a bit eccentric, but also so easy going that she really is her own boss. Who couldn't want to be Loveday? Surrounded by boxes of books, day in, day out. Living in one of our most beautiful cities, life really should be a dream.
The cracks in Loveday's armour soon become apparent though, and her vulnerabilities begin to show. Her difficulty with trust, her natural defensiveness and how closed she can be. She often appears cold and uncaring, yet desperate to be understood. As each new character is introduced to the story, they are the vehicles that drive it. Each one of them are perfectly formed and fit beautifully into Loveday's story.
The story is told in three timescales; Loveday's childhood, spent in Whitby with her parents is entitled History, whilst the present day is called Poetry and her more recent past is Crime. Each section of this story slots together seamlessly and as the reader learns parts from History, so Poetry and Crime begin to make sense.
I could gush for hours about Lost For Words; the setting, the characters, the quite dark and disturbing themes, but that's not my job. I'd just like everyone to go out and buy a copy and savour it and love it as much as I did. I expect most people will shed a tear or two, and I know that there will be laughs and gasps along the way too. This really is a poignant and beautiful story, told by an author who can captivate an audience so easily. Wonderful. Highly recommended from me.
I'm thrilled to welcome Lost For Words author Stephanie Butland here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her and have left a lasting impression on her life, in My Life In Books.
My Life In Books ~ Stephanie Butland
I lived for these. I read them over and over. There was one I hadn’t read which my Mum bought for me but said I had to save until we went on holiday. It was my first time on a plane, but as soon as we got on I asked for the book and, well, plane schmane.
As a child, I was absolutely transported by these. I took them out of the library and really didn’t want to give them back. As an adult, I re-read them and loved them just as much.
This still has it all, for me. Jane has feistiness and weakness, acceptance and fight. She has self-reliance, makes some terrible decisions, learns a little and loses a little. Very possibly a perfect novel. I read it first when I was about 13, and although many books that I’ve re-read in adulthood don’t have the same charm, this one gets better and better.
Apart from being fantastic books, these were read by me, my parents and my brother. we read the books, we listened to the radio programmes, we watched the TV series. They are part of our family history.
My favourite Austen. (Though that’s like saying salted caramel is my favourite ice-cream. It is, but I will happily substitute raspberry ripple, lemon sorbet, or anything good and chocolatey.) Tightly plotted, heartbreaking, witty, and human.
Updike’s first novel. Probably not his best, but I’ve chosen it because it was the first that I read, and it began a lifelong love of Updike’s books. He’s a craftsman of the first order: precise, insightful, and moving.
Oh, how well I know this book! I read it over and over when my children were small and never tired of it. Plus: THE ENDING. I love that it doesn’t underestimate children, or pander to them.
I read them as an adult, but they made me feel (in the best possible way) like a child, and I cried like a baby at the end.
Heyer’s Regency romances got me through chemotherapy. (Agatha Christie helped a bit, too.)
Stephanie Butland ~ April 2017