I’m delighted to be sharing my thoughts on tour for debut novel The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen.
Publisher: Michael Joseph (12 July 2018)
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.
Available to purchase in digital, hardcover and audiobook formats.
Having loved hearing the stories every Friday from his Uncle Archie about the lost letters, when William inherits the part-time letter detective role from Archie, he is already passionate about reuniting lost missives with their recipients. However, what starts out as part-time (giving him time to write his novel), turns into a full time job and takes over his dreams and ambitions.
William’s wife Clare, the main breadwinner, becomes disillusioned with their life together. Neither of them have fulfilled the promise of who they could be. Both of them are settled into a routine that just doesn’t match the dreams they had when they first met. Both see each other as being ‘lost.’
Into this stagnation falls Winter’s letters to ‘My Great Love’ which unsettle William and prompt him to think deeper. They mark the start of William’s quest which takes him to Clovelly, Donnybrook and Dublin.
I enjoyed Helen Cullen’s figurative writing style. It’s poetic (but not flowery) and for me, very visual.
When Clare meets up with her sister Flora:
A large quantity of white wine spritzers operated as a conversational midwife.
It’s easy to glean what this means about the relationship between the sisters doesn’t it. Just as you can work out which year the story is set by the length of time William’s worked at the depot and other things such as the latest movie showing at the cinema. Showing and not telling at its best 🙂 I didn’t know which ending we were being led to until the final page.
I loved that in the depot William and his colleagues have their own ‘specialties.’ We do get to experience a couple of successful endings as well as a poignant letter that needs passing on to the relevant service. I’m not sure I would have been able to work with William though – he’s so focused on his ‘inner world’ and comes across as selfish. He’s definitely not a team player.
The Lost Letters of William Woolf is about the complexity of relationships. It reminds us not to drop the things that are important to us, the things that make us whole. That we need creativity just as much as we do logic/reasoning in our lives. An intriguing and enchanting debut novel. One not to be missed.
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.
Her debut novel, ‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ will be published in 2018.
The first draft of this novel 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.
Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel.
Connect with Helen Cullen
Read all posts in the romance genre on Jera’s Jamboree.
Penguin/Michael Joseph on Jera’s Jamboree.