Loveday Cardew has worked at the Lost for Words bookshop in the heart of York since she was 15. Here she has redefined herself, escaping her past, closing herself off and letting only a select few in. But soon her world is turned upside down when she meets the owner of a lost book. Then mysterious deliveries are left at the shop, deliveries that bring back unwelcome memories. Soon Loveday has to chose whether to face her past and let the present in.
Oh how I adored this book. I loved everything about it. The only thing wrong with it was that I could have read another 100 pages. There is a wonderful atmosphere created in this novel. It is a book you can sink into and be swallowed up by. Once I picked it up I didn’t want to leave the environs of Lost for Words and it’s quirky staff.
All the characters are wonderfully portrayed. Loveday is a complex character. A product of her family circumstances she is spiky, closed off, often unintentionally humorous and loved by the people she is closest to. Archie, the owner of Lost for Words, and the saviour of Loveday, is a fantastic character. He has a chequered past, with stories of being a spy, of monkey games in Borneo and claims of friendships with the rich and famous. To me he appeared as an over the top version of Simon Callow’s Matthew from Four Weddings and a Funeral. He is warm, witty and utterly fabulous. The other characters that surround Loveday are few but all perfectly placed in the story. Nathan, the person who unwittingly challenges Loveday to reassess her life. Rob, who challenges in a different way, the antitheses perhaps of Nathan.
The bookshop and it’s location are also worthy characters in themselves. I could imagine myself wandering the shelves in Lost for Words, coming across a hidden gem. I love York and Whitby and could easily imagine Loveday cycling on her way to work or walking up the steps to the Abbey in Whitby. It made me want to visit both places again, to wander the cobbled streets of the walled city and to eat fish and chips under the shadow of the Abbey.
This is a novel that is an ode to the written word, to the beauty of poetry and the solace that books can provide. But it is not just a celebration of books. It is a novel about how our history shapes us, but doesn’t have to define us. It is a novel about love, in its many guises, of friendship and of how we can always re-write our own story. Simply beautiful.