All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland

on July 28, 2017

Lost For Words
Stephanie Butland
2017, 343p
Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin

Blurb {from the publisher/}:


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…

I loved this book.

Absolutely loved it, from start to finish. I was always going to pick up a book that is actually basically set in a bookstore! Loveday had what sounded like one of the world’s most relaxing jobs….tidying bookshelves, sorting through new donations/acquisitions etc. Now in her mid-20s, she’s been working at the second hand store since she was a teenager, first part time and then full time alongside its eccentric owner Archie.

Loveday is a very introverted person who doesn’t really socialise or do anything other than read outside of work. The book is split into different time frames – the present (2016), where Loveday meets a magician named Nathan, who comes into the store in response to a Found advert that Loveday placed in the window, Loveday’s childhood (1999) and a part of her past (2013). In the present, almost reluctantly, Loveday is dragged out of her comfort zone by the affable Nathan and an attempt to escape the incidents of 2013 lead her closer and closer to him but still she holds herself back because of 1999.

It takes quite a while for Loveday’s full story to unfold and it’s heartbreaking. I was honestly unprepared for how things went and I thought the author did an amazing job showcasing what a profound impact these things had on Loveday, things that trailed her well into her adulthood. The scars ran very deep beneath the surface and definitely affected her ability to relate to and interact with other people.

I really liked the character of Nathan. He’s so patient and kind, he knows that Loveday has some….things hanging over her and I think he’s just hoping for the day when she’ll feel like she will be able to tell him, confide these secrets that have shaped her. I liked that he pushed her out of her comfort zone but in really gentle ways, just suggesting things that she might like. At times it did feel as though Loveday didn’t appreciate the depth of what she had with Nathan but it’s pretty obvious that she’s deliberately holding herself back from thinking about it, that it’s probably not going to work out so why get too invested.

There’s a lot of warmth and light in this novel but there’s also a huge amount of darkness. Somehow the author manages to keep the overall tone of the book from being too devastating with the humour and charm of Loveday, Archie, Nathan and the bookstore itself, which is almost a living breathing character. I’m actually finding it really hard to review this book because all I want to say is that it’s beautiful and sad and happy and wonderful and it references books and it features books and ALL OF THE THINGS about this book are amazing. It’s just one of those books that totally spoke to me from the first page. I could be Loveday – not for the childhood thing at all, but in my 20s, the idea of working all day at a bookstore and then going home to read would’ve been my absolute jam. I’ve always trended towards solitude – even now, although I’m married with kids, I’m very much a homebody. Socialising can be so much of an effort and honestly I’d rather just be at home under a blanket on the couch with a book. Sometimes though, you agree to do something and you go and it’s pretty wonderful and you meet a nice person and that makes you think you can do things. Even when it feels a bit overwhelming.

This is the first Stephanie Butland novel I’ve ever read and on the strength of it she’s gone on the list of authors whose backlist I must immediately acquire and she’ll be an autoread for the future.

This is kind of a mishmash review, I always find ones where I love the books a lot for personal reasons quite hard to write. This book though, is for booklovers everywhere who know the power and refuge in words on page.


Book #128 of 2017

2 responses to “Review: Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland

  1. I don’t know the author. But it sounds like a good book.

  2. […] Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland. What’s not to love about a story set in a bookstore in York with a heroine named Loveday Cardew? It’s charming and sweet but also very intense with some deeper and darker themes than you’d first expect. […]

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