The Lost Letters Of William Woolf By Helen Cullen – A Review

Publisher: Penguin/Michael Joseph

Publication Date: 12th July 2018

When I read the blurb for this book I knew instantly that it was a bit of me. Being inherently nosey as I am, I could think of nothing better than reading about other people’s lost letters. There’s something mysterious and magical about the idea of reading other people’s post and piecing together a story….

And that’s what William Woolf is employed to do. He works at The Dead Letters Depot in London and is tasked with the job of opening parcels and post which have gone astray in the system due to a variety of reasons, be it a missing post code, illegible handwriting, lost address labels etc etc.

For William, being a letter detective was not his vocation in life. He was an aspiring writer before a huge case of writers block knocked his confidence and impacted his marriage to lawyer Clare.

William now spends his days reuniting the errant parcels and letters to their rightful owners and he takes a particular interest in the 4th floor where all the letters to ‘mythical’ beings get sent. All the letters to Santa, God, Saints, Prophets and TV Characters. He enjoys reading people’s missives and always try’s to reunite a piece of post with its rightful owner.

When William starts to find letters simply addressed to ‘My One True Love’ signed off by a lady called Winter he starts to wonder whether he is actually the person destined to receive these letters. They are letters written to a future love, a love that Winter has yet to find. She describes the things she and her as yet unfound great love will do, and how she so wishes she could find him and give him the letters full of her thoughts and feelings herself.

William is at a very vulnerable part of his life, his marriage to Clare is failing and he is struggling to keep a hold on it. Their once passionate, creative marriage has grown somewhat stagnant and both Clare and William are feeling the disappointment.

Williams decision to try and track down Winter takes him on a journey of self discovery as well as a physical journey between London, Devon and Ireland.

I was utterly absorbed by this book. Taken into William and Clare’s hearts each time they told their stories in the alternate chapters. There is so much depth of feeling in this story, a slight fairytale esque quality whilst still retaining a real down to earth authenticity.

I loved the fact that the letters themselves were almost whimsical, transporting William away to a different life whilst his actual relationship in the here and now is floundering and heartbreakingly real and difficult.

I was happy in a way that William and Clare didn’t have a perfect marriage, and when they argued it wasn’t just glossed over or forgiven in the blink of an eye. These two really struggle to make it work and their marriage is depicted in heart rending honesty.

I found myself rushing towards the conclusion of this story, eager to know how things were going to pan out for William and Clare and indeed the elusive Winter. The ending was perfect and tied everything together in a very satisfying way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am very pleased to report it is very deserving of the praise it has been getting on social media and in the blogging community.

Special thanks to Michael James/Penguin for the advanced review copy.

See you soon.

Bookish Chat xxx

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