Lost for Words – Stephanie Butland

Sometimes, I don’t like myself as a reader. I can be squeamishly (and unfairly) judgmental. For example, I found a lot of Stephanie Butland’s language in Lost for Words really cheesy, like:

I noticed that his hands were long, even in proportion to the rest of him, his fingers tapering, the tip of his thumb arching away from his hand, as though it was going to do a runner.

I just found that odd and simple. ‘As if it was going to do a runner’. Hmm… can thumbs do a runner? Perhaps this kind of language alludes to our protagonist Loveday’s trust issues. I don’t know. But stuff like that didn’t sit right with me.

And again:

The water was the blue of inkstained fingertips.

That feels weird to me. I can’t imagine ‘inkstained fingertip’ blue. I thought it was a weird way to describe the language. Perhaps Loveday’s thoughts are always in writing and books, hence the odd analogy. I found this line jarring to read, it felt unnatural and took me out of the story.

Stephanie Butland’s writing is really simple and straightforward. Sometimes this comes off pretty cheesy, as in the examples above. But, sometimes this lends itself well, with sweet little lines like:

… first lines did not define last pages in real life the way they did in books.


So although I worked on the poem I’d written in Whitby, I wasn’t sure I was going to do anything with it. There was a version of me who would. She was the best version: she came and went, and couldn’t be relied upon.

Her writing itself aside, I think the plot was lovely, and I was well and truly sucked in to this story.

In a nutshell (spoiler warning): Loveday is a twenty-something, somewhat recluse of a girl who works in a bookshop and doesn’t get out much. Her only real friend is the owner of the shop Archie, and she’s worked with him for 10 years. Then, one day, a boy comes into her life who she likes, around the same time that books from her childhood begin to show up in the secondhand bookshop. As in, the exact books she read in her childhood. These stir up old painful memories, and we learn that her mother killed her abusive father, and Loveday worked her way through the foster care system. She doesn’t really trust anyone, and doesn’t really want to.

I think the way the story unfolds is really clever, and we slowly get clues as to how her seemingly perfect childhood became so sour.

I really enjoyed the plot twists and definitely got swept up in the story. A nice easy read 🙂


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