Saturday, June 30, 2018

The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

I'm always a sucker for a book that takes place in a bookshop or a library. Words like "witty" and "charming" were used to describe this novel, and I thought I was in for a lovely, summery, light read.  

It wasn't quite like that, although I did like the novel. It was certainly slower in pace and more solemn that I expected. Loveday Cardew is a young woman working in a second-hand bookshop. It is her refuge from a past that left her living in foster homes and being on her own for most of her life. She's very private, and no one knows her past as a happy little girl with two loving parents, before it all went horribly wrong when she was ten years old. Now 25, she's found her small slice of contentment, and a family with the shop's owner, Archie, a delightfully charming man who seems to know everyone and has done everything. 

Enter Nathan, who stops in the bookshop after losing his book of poetry near the bus stop. Loveday found it, and posted a note about it on the community board in the bookshop. Nathan is a magician, a poet, and knows how to give Loveday her space, while at the same time edging her towards a relationship. Rob, an ex-boyfriend of Loveday's, is a creep. He's stalking her, and won't leave her alone. As the story progresses, Loveday's relationship with Nathan slowly moves forward, as we get the history of her short relationship with Rob, and the background of her life in Whitby, a seaside town where she lived happily with her parents.  Until happily ever after came crashing down in a horribly tragic moment.

I wasn't sure what to make of this novel. Loveday is pretty prickly and withdrawn, and Nathan really is a gem: he knows when to push, and when to stand back. He's exactly what Loveday needs, and I was so relieved that she had enough sense to realize that, even if she felt she wasn't worthy of a good relationship. Her growing confidence in reading her poetry during poetry nights at the local pub, along with her unfolding relationship with Nathan, are the two plot points that keep the story moving forward. Also, I was curious as to what exactly happened to Loveday's family. It wasn't hard to figure out, but I had to wait until 3/4 of the way through the novel to finally get the full story. I also appreciated Loveday standing up to Rob, after realizing she played right into his hands. Jerk. Physical abuse is a big part of the novel; and Loveday's thoughtful insight into her experience with it explains the mindset of women who don't always leave at the first slap, and find a way to explain it away. But is also shows that sometimes, that abuser won't leave, even when a woman does stand up to them and take back their power. 

I can't say this was a charming novel. It wasn't. It was thoughtful, and a bit dark, and, for me, a bit sad. I'll leave it to you to read and discover Loveday's journey, and the role books play in her life. The ending will satisfy all who are cheering Loveday on in her journey. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel that surprised me with themes of domestic abuse, stalking, and bullying; what they do to us as adults, and how we cope. The power of books to provide comfort, and remind us of the best things in life, are the backbone of this novel. I liked the story, but had hoped for a frothier read! Not the fault of the author, but of my expectations. Would make a good book club selection. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio

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