Book Review

The Lost for Words Bookshop

The Lost for Words Bookshop

Stephanie Butland

St. Martin’s Press, Jun 2018

343 pages, hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook, audio CD

Fiction, women’s lit

Borrowed, Derry Public Library


The cover is a soft, lovely depiction of the window with the window seat that our heroine describes early on in the book. The colors chosen are trendy, but appealing and make for a very appealing cover.

The story is a backward-forwards tale of a young woman who has watched her mother be abused by her father until she can take no more and he is killed by accident in one of their arguments, and then she, in turn, is abused by a short-term boyfriend. The story is about how she deals with her life, the people who surround her, and the people she leaves behind. The Lost for Words Bookshop becomes her sanctuary and it’s where she holds the rest of the world at bay.

The characters, especially Loveday Carew, are well-written. Loveday is damaged by what had happened when she was young. Her mother was beaten by her father. Her father was killed by her mother. Her mother was sent to prison. Loveday was taken into the system, into a foster home. She refused to see her mother for visits.

Now, as a young adult, she works for the man who is her hero. Archie is the owner of the Lost for Words Bookshop these days. Formerly, he had traveled far and wide, done marvelous things, met many people, and had many, many friends. Archie loves and adores his young assistant in the shop. He takes pains to protect her and help her as much as she will allow him to. He would move heaven and earth for her if she asked him to, though she doesn’t realize it.

Loveday has also met a young man, a poet. Archie likes him and chats him up when he stops into the shop to see Loveday and bring her a coffee. But as things go, things go wrong or at least seem to go wrong. If you’re always looking for something to go wrong, then sooner or later, you’ll find something wrong. Right? Well, Loveday has a habit of looking out for the wrong in life. She’s come to expect it. So, now she thinks it’s come and she takes steps to avoid more of it.

The pace is fairly brisk and the tension keeps pace. This is helped along by the forwards and backward of switching from the present to the past and keeping the storylines of both going strong. You don’t get the full story of either the present or past until the end. And make sure you have a tissue ready for the ending. I was surprised by it. I thought we’d had all the unhappy stuff we could until then. I was wrong.

This is an author whose work I will look for again. Highly recommended.

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