Guest Review by Tanya Kaanta for The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen
The Lost Letters of William Woolf is Irish writer Helen Cullen’s debut novel. The setting is fantastic. William works as a letter detective in the Dead Letters Depot, sleuthing to reunite lost letters to their rightful owners. However, this story is more about William and his wife Clare, rather than the Lost Letters. While the letters do play a supporting role, Clare and William’s dissolving marriage is the epicenter of the book.
William is a somewhat nerdy thirties-something struggling writer, passing his time in the Dead Letters Depot. He is yet to write his bestseller, and to be honest, lacks the courage to even begin. His ego and both Clare and William’s lack of communication take a toll on their marriage. Clare’s professional success and his failure to launch exacerbates their deteriorating relationship.
Enter the letters from Winter. A transplant from Ireland to London, she writes to her one true love, knowing he is out there. William is intrigued, pursuing a bit of an emotional affair with the idea of Winter and her letters.
Simultaneously whimsical-fantasy and somber-realism, the pacing is at times a stroll in the park, and others a roller coaster. I personally enjoyed the learning more about William as he immersed himself in Winter’s letters. He became multi-dimensional, though I didn’t always “approve” of his choices. The author does a nice job of relaying situational context for Clare and William’s current life choices.
This book isn’t for everyone, and the ending may leave some yearning for more. But I personally feel it’s worth the read. Cullen is a beautiful writer, and the uniqueness of taking a ubiquitous topic – a crumbling relationship – and adding a new fantastical lens is brilliant. And while I mention the ending may be not satisfying for everyone, it’s definitely representative of life. We don’t always know what’s to come and we don’t always have all the information we seek. Just being in the moment is a gem of a lesson.
My Great Love…’
William Woolf is a letter detective at the Dead Letters Depot, where he spends his days reuniting lost mail with its intended recipient.
But when he discovers a series of letters addressed simply to ‘My Great Love’ everything changes.
Written by a woman to a soulmate she hasn’t yet met, her heartfelt words stir William in ways he has long forgotten.
Could they be destined for him? And what would that mean for his own troubled marriage?
William must follow the clues in the letters to solve his most important mystery yet: his own heart.
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