Today, Tanya Kaanta reviews The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen. Shortlisted for newcomer of year in the Irish Book Awards.
The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen
Back of the Book
Lost letters have only one hope for survival . . .
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.
Book Review by Tanya Kaanta
The Lost Letters of William Woolf is many book genres wrapped up in one. Part mystery, part romance, and all fiction. The story opens introducing William Woolf at his place of employment in London, the Dead Letters Depot. A place where undeliverable mail is processed where employees open the mail to try and find an address in which to forward. To be honest, I hadn’t realized many countries actually have an office such as this, though they go by different names. In the United Kingdom, the office is now called the National Returns Centre located in Belfast or Portsmouth. While in the U.S., the office facilities are knows as Mail Recovery Centers.
So here we have William. He’s in his thirties. He’s complacent in life, and to be blunt, the spark has fizzled in his marriage. His wife, Clare, also worries about their lackluster life and longs for more.
One inauspicious day, William reads a letter addressed to ‘My Great Love’ and he begins a mission. To find out the author of these letters, because what if he’s actually this woman’s soulmate she so eloquently writes to?
As William searches for this mystery woman, Clare does some searching on her own. Yet both William and Clare veer from their relationship. Are their actions imperative in order to salvage their relationship? I’m not sure, but it makes a great book club question.
It’s a unique premise where the characters are real and imperfect. At times I became so infuriated with William and Clare, yet other times I could see the kindling that brought them together many years earlier. It’s not a smooth ride, but it’s one that feels authentic. And as I mentioned before, The Letters of William Woolf will provide fodder for in-depth discussion on life, fate, choices, success, relationships, love, and forgiveness.
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