Guys; I'm in love. This book is just beautiful.
I was lucky enough to get to know Stephanie Butland as she was writing her newest novel, "Lost for Words". Loveday, our antagonist, finds herself wrapped up in the world of spoken word and poetry, so Stephanie came along to Scratch Tyne - a workshop for performers in Newcastle - for research. I got to listen to a few of her first drafts for poems that feature in the book. And, on Tuesday, I finally got my hands on a copy of the book, and got to hear Stephanie talk about the craft of writing it, at Newcastle Waterstones.
Loveday is a prickly, antisocial woman, working in a second-hand bookshop (wistful sigh) in York (wistful sigh x2), who begins, slowly, to let down the walls she's built around herself since her traumatic childhood - her boss adores her, she's got her independence, and she's beginning a tentative relationship with dreamy poet Nathan. But, somehow, books from her past begin showing up as donations to the bookshop - bringing up painful memories of Lovedays's past...
This book has been a delight to read. The characters, especially Loveday, are fully realised and fleshed out, with their own distinctive voices, even in their poetry. You forget these poems, sprinkled throughout the narrative, are written by the same person who wrote the main narrative, and not the fictional people in the narrative. The writing is sad and beautiful, but Loveday can also be really blunt and standoffish at times - completely on purpose, which just deepens her even further as a protagonist. She doesn't want people to get close to her, to be able to read her easily...and that includes us as the reader. A few very candid lines about the quality of some of the spoken word she hears at an open mic - and why Loveday thinks they get up to perform - made me clap my hand over my mouth to stop myself laughing on the Metro home. All I'll say is you can tell Stephanie did her research.
The love of words in all their forms just shines through in every page of this book. Books can bring back bittersweet memories, make you fall in love, inspire you and give you a purpose. I haven't read a book that touched me like this in a long time - I literally couldn't wait to keep reading it. Like Loveday herself says, in a line that made me swoon; "God, I don't love much but I love words." If you love words too, do yourself a favour and get a copy of this book. You can buy it on Amazon here but, if you live in the North East, keep your eye out for her at an event near you, and check out her website.
Musings on my life as a writer.