This bookshop keeps many secrets . . .
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 . . .
Having read and loved both of Stephanie Butland’s previous books I was looking forward to reading this latest title and I was not disappointed. In fact, I think this is the best so far – I loved it. Of course as an ex librarian, with an obsessive passion for books, I was probably pre-disposed to be enchanted by someone who prefers books to people, I can quite understand the notion that you know where you are with books.
Loveday works at the second-hand bookshop Lost for Words. She is a fascinating character, that we gradually get to know as the book unfolds, by means of a multi thread narrative looking at the past (history), present (poetry) and a more recent past (crime). She is a troubled soul, that prefers the solace and comfort of books to the everyday interaction with people who she tries as near as possible to keep at arm’s length. Archie, her boss and what passes for a friend (or as near as she’ll allow) is the guardian angel that stepped into her life when she needed one most and has remained constant.
Don’t be fooled by the cosy cover, this is a story with a mystery at its heart, that deals with some hard-hitting subjects. As a balance it also has humour, especially when Loveday offers her wry and often acerbic views on people, especially people who inhabit bookshops. From experience I can confirm that the same people also inhabit libraries and exhibit the same traits that had me nodding in heartfelt agreement.
I have no intention of revealing anything about the plot than that revealed in the blurb. This is a story that needs to be read, without any hint of what happens or might happen next. It is a story that works because the characters are exceptionally well drawn, realistic and believable. Loveday is a character that I defy you not to be enchanted by, despite her failings, she has an outer confidence and self-reliance that hides her inner brittleness and fear of relationships. Archie, her boss, is a whirlwind of larger than life bonhomie, with a collection of life tales that no-one is ever sure is true, but his heart of gold is never in doubt. Then we have Rob and Nathan, who both vie for Loveday’s affections, with differing strategies and success, all I will say is I might be a little bit in love with one of them myself, but you’ll need to read it yourself to discover who that might be.
This is a book that as all the elements that I look for in a good read, great storyline, believable characters and a perfect balance of humour, pathos and romance. It had me smirking one minute and almost in tears the next. With several ‘nooo’ moments this book was heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure with more than one heart stopping moment. I have no hesitation in recommending this book, it is quite simply brilliant.
I received a review copy via NetGalley for the purpose of this review.
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