Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: The Lost for Words Bookshop - Stephanie Butland

Lost For Words
by Stephanie Butland
Published: June 19, 2018 by St. Martin's Press
Genre: Women's Fiction

You can trust a book to keep your secret . . .

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.

5 Stars

Wow, this book got to me in ways I never expected it to. The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland left me with my heart hurting, tears streaming down my face, and a desire for it to go on and on and never end. We follow Loveday in present-day 2016 and learn of her, at first wonderful and later difficult, past in flashback chapters. We see her in school plays, reading with her father, baking with her mother, and hiding with her secrets in her bedroom. She's kept her past private, her family consisting of the people she chooses, specifically bookshop owner Archie. Lost for Words is her happy place, her escape with the books she connects to better than people, but the bookstore also brings to her people, like a lover, a poet, and someone with boxes that take her right back into the past.

"It's good to be reminded that the world is full of stories that are, potentially, at least as painful as yours."

Loveday is an enigma, she functions with little help from others, shares very little personal information, but allows the first lines of novels to tell her story for her as tattoos on her skin. She's hiding from a past she doesn't want to admit she has, hiding from comfort of sharing herself with another, and yet so desperate to tie the books she reads to her past in some way. She's like a child in many ways, though more caution with her feelings and matters of the heart. I ached for her, even before I knew what her past was made up of. She was meek in many ways and yet so strong and stubborn in others. Her past making up much of who she is, though unaware of how impactful those around her presently also are in making her into someone new. Loveday is a reader and The Lost for Words Bookshop is a book for book lovers.

"I suppose it's the fact that these 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."

Stephanie Butland's writing is lyrical, the story is fresh, and the poems that tie Loveday to another such a romantic way to reveal feelings. I loved every single secondary character in this novel, even those who are more foe than friend. Each sparks a match to Loveday, pushing her to reveal more of herself, to accept more of herself, and showing her to accept the open arms of others. Archie is the best man I've ever met in a book and he's not even what one would consider handsome. He's described as portly and jovial, the kind of man who tells a tale that you know must be embellished, only he's got the odd friends to show for it. His love of Loveday, his support of her, is so much like that of a father and I really ached for Loveday and how she didn't recognize him as such. He's so important in her growth in this novel and I easily could have read the story of them working together for ten years forever. They're quite the pair, I think I would've liked to know him. Of course, there's Nathan, a boy who charms her and disarms her, bringing forth a Loveday that I had come to think we would only see in her childhood flashbacks. He's the knight who helps her take down the walls she'd spent so long building and fortifying. Every character felt so real, with Stephanie Butland's descriptive storytelling bringing each to life along with the quant York setting.

"'And be brave, Loveday. Ask the questions you want to ask. Seek out the people you want in your life. It might not be as hard as you think.'"

The Lost for Words Bookshop is not what I would call chick lit, but rather Women's Literature and really a book anyone with difficult baggage can relate to. With heavy topics covered like mental health, trauma, and abuse, Stephanie Butland tells a romantic story with a purpose. As a bibliophile I connected with this book, with Loveday and her only-in-my-dreams tattoos, and the unique take Stephanie Butland had on burying the hatchet, finding oneself, and embracing life's quirks whether joyous or difficult. I had a fantastic giggle when Loveday, as a child, pointed at that being a reader makes saying words aloud so much more difficult, as we really haven't a clue how it really should sound. So true. I do suggest you prepare yourself with tissues, because for every laugh I had at the character's wittiness I also shed a tear for the heartache Loveday had come to accept. I know this is a book I will reread many times, in fact I can already picture the cold winter nights with cocoa in hand and Loveday to keep me company.

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