Review: Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland


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Published: 20 April 2017

Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre

Category: Women’s Fiction/Books About Books

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.

Rating: 5 Stars

This book is not a fast read, but then again neither is one of my favorite books of all time (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn). Not all books have to be, when the author can find the right pace and divulge the inner workings of their characters in the proper moment.

Loveday, the main character, has us in her head for the entirety of the book and we learn things as she reveals them in the present day to us, and in flashbacks: the times that lead up to the destruction of her family and the times that saw her facing someone whose continued presence in her present day is reminiscent of the relationship between her parents. Everything has a reason, which I found interesting. The author didn’t waste anything, or anyone.

Besides Loveday, there was a whole cast of characters that gave something to the story, whether it was Archie, the proprietor of the bookshop, or Nathan, Loveday’s love interest, or even the workers/patrons of Lost for Words.

My favorite thing about Lost for Words was how powerful some scenes were, even if there wasn’t a lot of typical “action” going on at the moment. For instance, Loveday’s reaction to the Penguin Classics she unpacks in one scene, in thinking that they’re her mother’s books from long ago, reminded me of a nostalgic/deja vu feeling I get when I’m in a second hand bookshop. Seeing books on the shelves that I know I own at home, seeing them in another environment, is both heartwarming and strange, especially if they happen to be in the series arrangement as my own collection. Loveday’s remembering her mother buying a Penguin Classic every two weeks for a year made her and her family even more familiar to me, even if her mum didn’t read them (in my case it’s a runaway tbr, in Loveday’s mum’s case…who knows?).

However, this scene takes on a potentially darker tone when more books from Loveday’s past keep showing up at the shop, books she hasn’t seen in fifteen years and that have no right to be surfacing now, in the shop she works at of all places. The eeriness of such an occurrence was so subtle I almost didn’t realize what was happening at first, but the more time that I spent in Loveday’s present tense chapters, the more I realized that something strange was going on and the more I wanted to find out what it all meant.

There are more of these eerie moments as the book goes on, as we get more glimpses into Loveday’s past and discover what really happened to make her into the person she is now. Ultimately the truth is revealed to the reader and then there is the journey toward her making peace with that, with herself, and with those around her that love her, just as she is.

You’re never quite sure, reading this book, whether there will be a happy ending or not, whether one is even possible, but it’s the finding out that’s interesting, not the actual getting.




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

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