Found in a Bookshop by Stephanie Butland – review

Published by Headline

Publication date – 27 April 2023

Source – review copy

Loveday Cardew’s beloved Lost for Words bookshop, along with the rest of York, has fallen quiet. At the very time when people most need books to widen their horizons, or escape from their fears, or enhance their lives, the doors are closed. Then the first letter comes.

Rosemary and George have been married for fifty years. Now their time is running out. They have decided to set out on their last journey together, without ever leaving the bench at the bottom of their garden in Whitby. All they need is someone who shares their love of books.

Suddenly it’s clear to Loveday that she and her team can do something useful in a crisis. They can recommend books to help with the situations their customers find themselves in: fear, boredom, loneliness, the desire for laughter and escape.

And so it begins.

Lockdown. People are scared, lonely, adrift. Loveday Cardew is worried that her bookshop, Lost for Words, won’t survive. But she has always found solace in books and knows that now is the time that many people will need to seek refuge between the pages. Rosemary and George are facing their own final trial as they come to terms with a health issue that will alter their lives forever. Rosemary writes to Lost for Words requesting books be sent to them so that they may read aloud to each other. An idea is born and Loveday and her staff introduce a Book Pharmacy service. May be they can dispense a book that will heal you too.

Yes this is a lockdown novel. If you’ve been avoiding them then please make an exception for this one. It looks at lockdown from different perspectives, from front line workers to single parents, from domestic abuse survivors to long married couples. It takes snapshots of those lives and looks at them with respect and kindness. Each of Loveday’s customers using the book pharmacy is seeking to treat a different ailment. Boredom, the need for adventure, a way to bridge divides or a way to treat a broken heart.

Loveday, first seen in the novel Lost for Words, is floundering as she tries to maintain her business, the one her mentor Archie left to her. She feels she owes it to Archie to ensure that she keeps the shop afloat but is unused to asking for help. Slowly she realises that her manager Kelly, boyfriend Nathan and mum, want to help, because they love her.

Kelly is getting used to being loved again. Separated from her new boyfriend Craig, she is overjoyed and overwhelmed when he comes to live with her. She has to contend with being part of a couple and not a single person. And needs to figure out why Madison, the newest member of the team dislikes her so much.

As well as following the lives of the bookshop staff, Found in a Bookshop follows a moment in time of Rosemary and George, as they come to terms with George’s medical issues. We see the pair fall in love, face difficulties and grow old together, and see what impact books have had on their relationships. And the impact they have on others, from the Professor who invites his lonely neighbour into their bubble to the redundant restaurant manager going through a break up.

I can imagine where Lost for Words is. My Lost for Words will be located in a different place to yours but both will be just as loved. I know York and love it for many reasons. I wish that Lost for Words was real so that I could visit, pick up a book prescription or two and just wander the shelves.

There were sentences in here that I had said myself before. About books speaking to our soul. About not forcing ourselves to read books, to make it feel like homework.

This is a book about reading, an ode to bookshops, booksellers and book readers. It explores the love and comfort books can bring, the challenges, entertainment and solace they offer to millions. It’s never just a book. To someone that book is a gateway to a new world, a respite from the real one.

A truly wonderful read. I loved it.

You can buy a copy of the book here.

(This is an affiliate link so I may make a small amount should you buy through it. You can only find Found in a Bookshop in your local independent bookshop.)

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I loved Lost for Words and can’t wait to get stuck into this one! Fab review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you! I loved Lost for Words too. I hope you enjoy this one when you read it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Joanne says:

    Fabulous review Janet. So looking forward to this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      Thank you! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it. Let me know what you think.


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