What bibliophile can resist a novel about a charming used bookshop, with even more charming and quirky protagonists? I can’t. To further my interest, I’ve read some great reviews of this novel that were written by some of favorite fellow bookbloggers (see list below my review). And… did I mention it is set in York, England? What a package!
This delightful novel features a memorable protagonist, Loveday Cardew. She has worked for “Lost for Words” for the past ten years, is twenty-five years old, has a nose ring, and several tattoos which depict lines from her favorite novels. She’ll be the first to admit that she likes books much better than she likes people. An introvert, she avoids confrontation at all costs. I confess that in the first chapter or so I wasn’t Loveday’s biggest fan, though over the course of the novel I came to love her like a daughter. The author cleverly put forth her bristly and sarcastic character so as to show how Loveday put up walls against the people she meets.
“I word hard, but I know that I’m also hard work.”
Loveday’s poem explaining why she loves books:
“I like books cause they don’t care if your knickers match your bra. If you’ve washed your hair. I like books cause they don’t invade your space. They sit on your shelf and don’t get in your face. I like books cause they don’t mind what your heart contains, who you’ve left behind. I like books cause they don’t give a shit when you get to the end – what you think of it. Books don’t care if you’ve got a degree or what you watch on TV. Books don’t judge if you’ve got tattoos, if your friends are few. I like books cause they don’t care.”
Loveday’s one true friend is the owner of “Lost for Words”. More like family than he is a boss, Archie is a portly, gregarious gentleman. Generous in size and generous in nature. Archie wears a lot of tweed, smokes a pipe, and has a luxuriant moustache. He adores Loveday like a father and calls her his little ‘stray waif’.
“Archie says I keep all my interesting bits well hidden and getting to know me is an exercise in faith rewarded.”
One day Loveday finds a poetry book on the pavement. As any true bibliophile would, she rescues the book from the elements and takes it back to the bookshop. She posts a sign in the window “Found” with the books details. This small, seemingly inconsequential event will profoundly impact the lives of three people.
Nathan Avebury, a poet and magician, notices her sign in the window and comes in to claim his book. Nathan seems to see beyond Loveday’s off-putting demeanor to the person she is underneath.
“When you’re a child you don’t always know the right questions, and you don’t know that you don’t have forever to ask them.”
Though part of this novel are flashbacks to Loveday’s childhood days in Whitby, her past is a well guarded secret that is not divulged until near the end of the book. We know that she suffered a great trauma in her childhood and that when she was ten years old she was put into the foster system.
“Small memories come from the kind of tiny reminders that you simply can’t predict, and so can’t protect yourself from, and they catch you, paper cuts across the heart.”
All of the characters in this novel are so genuine and so very ‘human’. Villains and angels are both represented – showing that no one is completely one or the other. This is a book that will steal the heart of ardent bibliophiles and those who carry emotional baggage from their youth. “Lost for Words” is laced with moments that will alternately make you laugh and make you weep. If you were expecting a ‘cutesy’ chick lit book, you will soon discover that “Lost for Words” has hidden depths with some very serious themes. In a nutshell – I loved it!
My sincere gratitude to Bonnier Zaffre Books via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel. I was only too happy to write this review.
Check out some other great reviews of “Lost for Words”!
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.
Stephanie Butland lives in Northumberland. She likes words and tea.