The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen ★★☆☆☆ #bookreview

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Synopsis from Goodreads
Lost letters have only one hope for survival… 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.

My Thoughts
Based on this description I was excited to read this book. It sounds great, right? A potentially sweet romance about two strangers finding each other through lost letters. But this isn’t what the book is about. Yes, William works at the Dead Letters Depot and he solves mysteries of lost letters. And yes, William finds letters addressed to “My Great Love”. What this synopsis doesn’t tell you is that William is married and this book is about 15% talking about lost letters and 85% squabbling and fighting between William and his wife Clare.

I did not like Clare. She was a despicable character and she even knew she was a despicable character but couldn’t seem to stop herself from berating and abusing William. William was a vacillating, whiny weasel – he wants his wife, he doesn’t want his wife, he wants the mystery woman, he doesn’t want the mystery woman. The back and forth between these two characters was tedious and boring to be honest. I didn’t care one whit about either one of them because neither of them were likeable people.

There was one single scene, right in the middle of the book, where Clare and William had a discussion about their relationship and it was the only part of the book that felt true and real to me. The pain of their situation (i.e., drifting apart, thoughts about others, accusations of cheating, lying to each other) sat hard in my chest. It was raw and painful and was the best part of the book. Sadly, it was only a brief emotional connection to the characters that was quickly extinguished.

The overly descriptive writing was a turnoff for me – there were pages and pages of it that simply didn’t add to the story. There was one scene where William found a package at the Dead Letter Depot that contained a box of individual words and phrases cut from newspapers and magazines, each one glued to a piece of cardboard. The author then proceeds to list about 60 of these words and phrases. This had absolutely ZERO benefit to the story and really felt like a blatant attempt to lengthen the book. UGH! I don’t mind descriptive language when it serves a purpose (see my review for Ellie and the Harpmaker for an example), but there just simply wasn’t a purpose to it here in my opinion.

Then there is the ending. A rushed, quickly put together bow slapped on an ultimately unsatisfying story. Unbelievable and ultimately a cheesy ending.

I struggle with rating books like this. Honestly, I was bored through most of the book, yet intrigued enough to finish it – hoping for a satisfying conclusion that never came. I did not connect with the characters and the overly descriptive writing really didn’t work for me. The book would have been better, in my opinion, if it would have been as the synopsis described – finding a soulmate via lost letters. Leave Clare out of it and make William unmarried and this could have been a great story. Perhaps if the synopsis hadn’t been so misleading, I wouldn’t have felt as disappointed in this book.

I am giving this a 2 out of 5 rating, which means I thought the book was just ok.

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin – Graydon House Books for a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating – 2 out of 5

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