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Rarely has a book gotten me so emotional completely unexpectedly!

Set in Covid times, it of course takes us back to a time that was challenging for us all and that affected us in different ways, but this had me break down when I least expected it.

Found in a bookshop

Though Found in a Bookshop is the second novel of a series, it works as a standalone as well, telling the story of a small bookshop in York during the pandemic. With its doors closed, it seems no one is interested in books, and Loveday, the owner, and Kelly, her manager, are trying to stay afloat with the tiny number of orders they have, but they both know it can’t go on. One of the orders comes in the shape of a letter, hand written by Rosemary, who knows the book shop well and who lives not too far away in Whitby with her husband George, who is ill. Together they are living in their beautiful house with a view of the sea, enjoying what little time they have left together. And to pass the time, she asks the Lost for Words Bookshop for regular book deliveries.

The kind letter with its carefully chosen words gives Loveday and Kelly the idea of a book pharmacy: Everyone is dealing with different ailments during this lockdown, so why not try and find a book to help them? After a newspaper article comes out, the requests start coming in. Every day new insights into someone’s lockdown life and their struggles.

With each letter, we remember a little piece of this time we have mostly left behind us: The neighbours who can’t come inside anymore, the families separated because they can’t travel, the bubbles, the hospital workers who can’t go home. And with it come the snippets of everyone’s lives: the neighbours who help each other out, the mum alone at home with a new born, the ones waiting for news of their loved ones in hospital, the domestic violence getting worse, the boredom, the stress, the anxiety. While books are not the solution, they can help. And so, on a daily basis, the staff recommend books to the people who write in.

Some characters we meet in passing, others we get attached to. The novel becomes a list of book suggestions for avid readers (a helpful list of all books mentioned is printed at the back of the book) until reality hits again and we remember that we are in uncertain times. Our favourite characters are struggling but helping each other where they can. In the end, that’s what we want to try and preserve from this lockdown era.

Found in a Bookshop by Stephanie Butland is due for release on 27th April 2023, published by Headline Review. ISBN:  978-1472291813

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