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Lost for Words by Stephanie Butland

A book about a second-hand bookshop with a quirky owner and the dry, snippy young woman who has sentences from books tattooed on various parts of her body who works for him? Set in England? With a mystery and, maybe, a love story as well? With references to literary and genre greats? That celebrates the written word? What’s not to love? Certainly, the wonderfully titled Lost for Words is a book to capture your heart.

Centred on Loveday Cardew, a woman with a mysterious past and an inability to speak of it, we follow her slow awakening to trust and her dark memories. Invited to a poetry reading – more a slam contest – in an old pub in the village where she works, Loveday attends against her better judgement. Listening to the words of others, and one person in particular, Loveday finds herself, as many of us do through the power of words, transported and moved. Over time, she slowly begins to understand she’s not the only one with an uncomfortable past and memories she’s tried to forget. Nor is she the only person afraid of heartbreak and loneliness.

But it’s not until, through a great act of courage and sacrifice, that Loveday learns the most important lesson of all.

Beautifully written and filled with whimsical, clever and unforgettable characters, this is a rich and haunting book that will move and charm you and often both at the same time. When I’d finished it, there was a sense of loss so great, I almost started reading it again so I didn’t have to leave this wonderful world Stephanie Butland has created. Delightful and deep.

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