#bookreview Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland @under_blue_sky published by Bonnier Zaffre books @BonnierZaffre

lost for words

Goodreads blurb:

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.  


My reading experience:

At first I think the author has based our heroine Loveday Cardew on me, but maybe ever so slightly younger. I’m completely taken in because of this connection to my own passion about books and so I barely mind at all that the writing is “easy-reading” and anyway, it’s also clever – relatable, witty, descriptive and scene-setting. 

“… I liked being near the sea again.  The water was the blue of inkstained fingertips.”

After several flashbacks to 1999, the reader gets to find out a little bit more about Loveday or LJ as her parents called her, and we know that Loveday is a graduate of the care system so a mystery becomes apparent. She is a survivor, and not without scar. The compelling need to find out why she ended up in care is a strong driver, coupled with the need to find out what makes Loveday, our bookish reclusive type Loveday in 2016 – our present day narrative. 

“There was a big flashing ‘Emergency Exit’ sign in my head, and a fluorescent arrow pointing me in that direction.”

With Archie the ageing, grandfatherly pipe smoking Lost for Words bookshop owner, Nathan our bohemian magician/poet, Rob the sinister stalker ex-boyfriend and the ladies of the bookgroup, the book is rich in protagonist depth, and balanced delicately with a sprinkling of interesting supporting characters. As an added bonus we are treated to the poetry that Nathan and Loveday share on open mike night at the George and Dragon. 

Loveday’s drink of choice is a Gimlet. What is that I hear you ask! Wikipedia tells us that a Gimlet is a cocktail made of gin and lime juice.

So as the story of Loveday’s past is revealed, and well, the reason why she prefers books over humans (who doesn’t understand that?), we are observers to a poetic unravelling that is elegantly written with the wit of Loveday our narrator, and the charm of Ms Butlands skill. Although this isn’t our ending and there are unpredictable twists in this narrative, there are no spoilers in this review; reader you will be in for a treat.  Cannot wait to chat about this one at bookgroup @ReadingBtwWInes where we’ll be using the useful “For your Reading Group” questions supplied at end of the book. This is a 5* recommended read on Goodreads.

“Our pasts are as unfixed as our futures, if you think about it.”

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Photo courtesy of @horizontalhaiku on Instagram

Themes: mental health, domestic violence, social care, rare books, secrets, morals, love, poetry, abandonment, trust

About the author:

Stephanie Butland is a writer, who is thriving after breast cancer. (She used to say she was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)
Although she’d never have chosen it, her dance with cancer has changed her life in many positive ways. Now she is happier, healthier, and more careful with her precious life and the precious people and things in it.

Her writing career began with her dance with cancer, and now she is  a novelist.

Aside from writing, she works as a speaker and trainer, and she works with charities to help raise awareness and money in the hope that cancer will soon be about as scary as a wart.

She lives in Northumberland. You can tweet her @under_blue_sky


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