The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen ~Goodreads~
Published by Michael Joseph 2018
Hardback edition 325 pages
Inside the Dead Letters Depot in East London, Willia, 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 named Winter 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?
We meet William and Clare who have been married for fifteen years, and their marriage is slowly coming apart. William, a failed novelist, now works in the Dead Letters Depot tracing letters and packages back to their rightful owners. Clare is a successful lawyer and refuses to have the baby William wants.
The focal point of the story is when William finds a series of letters addressed ‘My Great Love’ from a mysterious woman called Winter. The letters themselves are strange because Winter implies that she is addressing a man who she is yet to find. With William’s own marriage on the line, he becomes obsessed with Winter and has a curious inclination that these letters are somehow addressed to him. He then decides to find Winter from the guided hints described in her letters. This becomes a soul-searching journey for William, deciding between Clare, who he once loved so earnestly, and Winter who he feels drawn to.
From the synopsis I was definitely expecting more letters and items to be returned to their intended owners, but from the one object we did get to witness being returned it was truly touching. Before this book I hadn’t really considered what happens to post that is undelivered, and I can only imagine the vast amounts there are of it. I like the mystery of it, but also the sadness in some items that weren’t delivered that could have changed someone’s life. Something so small as a letter or a package.
I loved the clever concept this book has of a relationship getting caught up with external goings on, to the point where the relationship is at risk of being broken down. Clare and William’s relationship takes twists and turns as they both get older and want different things. Like a lot of relationships, these hiccups can be make or break despite the pair still loving each over very much. I really got caught up in their love story and how it would conclude.
A unique love story told from the heart, and a thoroughly enjoyable read. For fans of David Nicholas, Helen Cullen is the one to watch out for! Congratulations to Helen on her debut novel. I’m certainly going to keep a look out for her pcoming works.