Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland (Book Review)

I received a free copy of this book, thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinions on the book.

Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland - Cover

Book Blurb:

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, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets?

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Tags: General Fiction, Literature, Women’s Fiction, Bibliophile, Poetry, Family, Social Services, Childcare Services, Childhood Trauma, Physical Abuse, Friendship, Love

My Thoughts:

First off, there’s not much ‘secret’ to her secrets. I sussed things out wayyyy before it was revealed in its naked entirety. And maybe that was the author’s intention or maybe not, I don’t know. Either way, the only mystery found in here was who put those ‘suspicious deliveries’ there for her to see?

Lost For Words: This bookshop keeps many secrets - Amazon Screenshot

‘Many Secrets’ – Quite a misleading title

Lost For Words(originally ‘The Lost For Words Bookshop’, I agree with their decision to shorten the title) starts out with Loveday Cardew finding an abandoned book on the sidewalk on her way to work at the Lost For Words bookshop. There’s dry, witty humor and some mild cussing which gives a good intro to what kind of character our MC is. You can sense the gloominess coming off of her, her cynicism worn on her sleeve. She tempers it with acceptance and droll humor, settling for what life’s thrown at her without much fight.

The story focuses on Loveday’s inner turmoil with her past, she just can’t seem to shake off The Incident in her childhood even after so many years. The story is told in alternating timeline’s: present-day, a few years back and childhood, in a seamless order that ties everything up nicely.

but unless you’ve been there you never understand that you might love someone who hurts you, because you know that it’s the best part of them that loves you and the worst part of them that hurts you and they really, really want to be the best them.

The characters were well-fleshed out and, in one word, human. Loveday, especially, is a broken individual, not that the others weren’t in their own way. At first, it was interesting to see her flaws but towards the end got grating. I wanted to shake her out of her paranoia(paranoid people irk me to no end), self-absorbed and woe-is-me attitude. I fail to see how her love interest could put up with her for so long. I sympathize but also find her infuriating. Although, I must admit, it’s realistic.

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.

Throughout the book there are literature references and poetry sprinkled in. I enjoyed learning about the process of running a book shop and loved Archie, the warm and whimsical old bloke who owns the shop.

Anyway, he appeared at my elbow. ‘Hot chocolate,’ he said. When I get drinks from next door they come in take-out cups. When Archie goes into the cafe he comes out with their best china. ‘Take a break, Loveday. I don’t want to see you for half an hour.’

Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland is a well-written ode to literature’s influence and the power of books but, ultimately, earns a ‘meh’ rating from me.
Parental Guidance: 15+
Violence – References to and characters who go through physical abuse, one account of arsonry
Sex – No explicit scenes but some brief allusions to it and nudity
Religion – One enlightening visit to a church
Profanity – Yes, but tastefully

Should You Get This Book?:

Get it if:

  • You like books with books as the centric theme
  • You like literature references
  • You want to read a book with flawed characters

Don’t get it if:

  • You’re looking for something fast-paced
  • You’re lured by the synopsis’ promise of mystery

Grab this now on: Amazon |Book Depository| B&N | Goodreads

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4 thoughts on “Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland (Book Review)

Add yours

  1. The byline on the cover, “You can trust a book to keep your secret,” pushes the buttons of promised mystery for me, like the lure of finding out things below the surface. But if there’s no character growth as things advance through the book, then that’s too bad. If there’s little things a character encounters in daily life that spark tiny bits of memory of things that hurt them, then it’s nice when a character is able to put the past behind them and gain strength from the here and now, like saying the pain or annoyances in the past have no power over them now.
    It’s good to grow and go beyond whatever chains bad events might shackle us with. It’s good to resist the temptation to let ourselves be dragged down emotionally by what happened in our past. If the author did not let the character grow out of an unfortunate emotional rut based on her past, then again, that’s too bad.
    I’m reminded of the old Star Trek movie The Final Frontier, when Captain Kirk said to Cybog the emotional Vulcan, “You want to take away my pain?! My pain keeps me going!”
    That didn’t seem like a good attitude for Kirk to have. And I thought it went against what I knew about his character. You don’t have spacefaring, warp-speed adventures just to say, “I’m always hurting from my past!” You can’t ‘boldly go’ to new good places physically or emotionally, if your mind is always staying on bad things from the unchangeable past. A lot of times maybe we’re tempted to keep thinking of bad things so we’ll recognize a bad thing and not be hurt again. There’s greater strength to be had in not following that temptation, and enjoying the goodness that can come from our place and what we can do in the here and now.
    As people, that’s what we try to do, so we like to see that from the characters in the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts on this, orangelunar!! I love when people engage with me in my posts 😀

      The synopsis for Lost For Words promises mystery but I think it’s misleading as the mystery element is very weak and easily sussable. As for character growth, there is but it’s slow and takes the whole novel(which isn’t such a fault). Sadly, the character does latch onto her past even if she doesn’t admit it herself.

      ‘You can’t ‘boldly go’ to new good places physically or emotionally, if your mind is always staying on bad things from the unchangeable past.’

      ‘There’s greater strength to be had in not following that temptation, and enjoying the goodness that can come from our place and what we can do in the here and now.’

      I completely agree with this, such wise beliefs!

      Liked by 1 person

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