I am delighted to be sharing my thoughts on The Lost Letters Of William Woolfe by Helen Cullen with you today. This book came on holiday with me and joined me sat beside the River Teign in Devon. My thanks to Michael Joseph Publishing for my copy of the book. If you would like to buy a copy it comes in various formats and can be found on AMAZON
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.
William and Clare Woolfe met at university and got married. They settle into marriage and also working life and over time the dreams they had at university gradually diminish. Life and work becomes a routine.
This story is told from the perspective of both Clare and William and I got to learn more about them as individuals as well as a couple. Clare has a successful career in law, though her original love is of art. William works in the Lost Letters Dept of the Post Office, just a temporary job until he became an author, this job now seems rather permanent.
William’s job entails him finding the recipients of those letters that have been wrongly addressed, address is missing or damaged. One day he finds a distinctive envelope and letter and is very taken with it, wanting to more about it and its author.
As his investigations with the letter progress I found another story, that of William and Clare. They are caught in that rut of routine in their marriage. They are a normal couple living normal lives but that have just lost that bit of sparkle.
So essentially you are given two stories, that of the letter and that of the marriage. This is where I may be right off the mark but, I think it’s like a comparison of what the perfect relationship in a letter is against actual relationships. The letter, or I should say letters as there are several, are beautiful in their sentiments and wording. They talk of dreams and plans for the future and for happiness and love. William and Clare have lost their youthful and exciting dreams, and though they still love each other they are frayed and fraught.
Life and the way you see it can sometimes narrow into a tunnel, it doesn’t allow you to see the bigger picture. At times we need to step out of our comfort zone of routine, rotas and timetables and experience new things, visit new places and above all dream. The letters allow William to do that.
So this is a book that is almost an enigma from the synopsis. I thought I would be reading about the letters that had gone astray, and while they do play a part in the story it is not all the story is. Once I realised what was happening I was able to enjoy the story of William and Clare and their lives as individuals and as a couple.
It is a gentle paced story that is quiet and thoughtful, not quite what I expected given the synopsis but non the less I thoroughly enjoyed. A book that I would recommend to readers of contemporary and literary fiction and is a beautiful story that I would definitely recommend.
About he Author:
Helen Cullen is an Irish writer living in London. She worked at RTE (Ireland’s national broadcaster) for seven years before moving to London in 2010. In the UK, Helen established a career as an events and engagement specialist before joining the Google UK marketing team in 2015.
The first draft of her debut novel THE LOST LETTERS OF WILLIAM WOOLF was written while completing the Guardian/UEA novel writing programme under the mentorship of Michèle Roberts. Helen holds an M.A. Theatre Studies from UCD and is currently completing an M.A. English Literature at Brunel University.
‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published this year, 2018 in UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy and Israel.
Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.
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