Helen Cullen: The Lost Letters of William Woolf
Published By: Michael Joseph
Buy It: here
What The Blurb Says:
Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, William Woolf is one of thirty letter detectives who spend their days solving mysteries. Missing postcodes, illegible handwriting, rain-smudged ink, lost address labels, torn packages, forgotten street names – they are all the culprits of missed birthdays, broken hearts, unheard confessions, pointless accusations, unpaid bills and unanswered prayers.
When William discovers letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ his work takes on new meaning.
Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t met yet, the missives stir William in ways he didn’t know were possible. Soon he begins to wonder: Could William be her great love?
William must follow the clues in Winter’s letters to solve his most important mystery yet: the human heart.
What I Say:
Thank you to Netgalley and Michael Joseph for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
I had heard a lot about The Lost Letters of William Woolf, and realising that it won’t be out until July meant that I knew I had to get hold of a copy somehow.
That turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made. In the past few weeks, as the release date has edged ever closer, it has been getting increasingly difficult to stop shouting about The Lost Letters, as it is a novel that needs to be shouted about from the rooftops!
This novel is simply exquisite. The writing is beautiful and achingly poignant. I wanted to underline so many lines and paragraphs, because it is so well written. Every page resonates with a perfectly pitched tone, and a narrative that sweeps you up and holds you absolutely in its thrall.
William Woolf, once an aspiring writer, is now plagued by writers block, and spends his days at The Lost Letters Depot attempting to reunite lost letters with their intended recipients.
Part of the magical quality of the novel is that we, like William read them too and the reasons why they have been written. Helen Cullen has a unique skill in adapting the voice of each letter writer, and they take on a power all of their own as we read of love, loss and a myriad of emotions in-between.
I loved the idea of a Lost Letters Depot, and it also made me realise that the art of writing letters is one that is becoming something consigned to a time before mobile phones. The clever way in which Helen Cullen intersperses heart rending stories from the letters which have arrived at the depot, alongside the trials and tribulations of William and Clare’s marriage, works so well. It is seamlessly executed, but also makes you feel, like William, a need to find a resolution for the senders of the letters.
As we see how William and Clare realise that they have lost each other in the routine of marriage, it made me think about how much we too often take our loved ones for granted. William and Clare love each other deeply, it is just their perception of each other that needs to be realigned. Like so many of us, the day to day routine of their relationship becomes the norm, and they simply live each day as the one before, not willing to really say what they feel.
Throughout the novel, I enjoyed the narrative style, and the way that we learnt all about how William and Clare came to the place they were at today. The story was so perfectly pitched and the strength of the writing meant that the characters were real, flawed and relatable humans. I loved William and Clare, and the twists and turns that their relationship took were so real. You really felt that they were made for each other, but that they needed to go through the pain and doubts they had to find their way back to the rest of their lives – and hopefully each other.
With an almost magical air, William somehow constantly starts to pick letters out of his post bags from someone called Winter to their ‘One True Love’. Winter writes of all the things she and her love will do when she finds them, and this ignites something in William, and he decides to try and find her. Perhaps believing that the idealised vision he has of Winter is the antidote to his stagnant marriage. I thought that this was a brilliant plot device and the letters she wrote to her love were timeless and heart-stoppingly passionate. I felt that they were what made William go on his journey to find his way back to Clare.
I loved every single page of The Lost Letters of William Woolf, and can’t wait to get hold of a physical finished copy, so I can read it again, and savour every page.
I would absolutely recommend this novel to everyone and hope it makes your heart sing, pull your loved ones a little closer, and that they like me, want to start writing (properly addressed!) letters.
I loved The Lost Letters of William Woolf, and hope you do too.