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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Review: Beautiful Words

Title: Beautiful Words
Author: Vanessa McCausland

Publisher: 1st December 2021 by HarperCollins Australia

Pages: 368 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: women’s fiction, contemporary, mystery

My Rating: 5 crowns


Two best friends, one summer night, and twenty years of silence ... what happened at the lighthouse?

The stunning, haunting new novel from the author of The Lost Summers of Driftwood.

Sylvie is a lover of words and a collector of stories, only she has lost her own. She has no words for that night at the lighthouse when their lives changed forever. What happened to cleave her apart from her best friend and soulmate, Kase?

Sylvie yearns to rekindle their deep connection, so when Kase invites her to the wild Tasmanian coast to celebrate her 40th birthday, she accepts - despite the ghosts she must face.

As Sylvie struggles to find her feet among old friends, she bonds with local taxi boat driver Holden. But he is hiding from the world, too.

Through an inscription in an old book, Sylvie and Kase discover their mothers have a history, hidden from their daughters. As they unpick what took place before they were born, they're forced to face the cracks in their own friendship, and the question of whether it's ever okay to keep a secret to protect the person you love.

Vanessa McCausland's enthralling new novel is about betrayal and forgiveness, the stories we tell, and the healing power of words.

My Thoughts

‘… the heaving bookshelves … which told her whole story, in the way that books map one’s internal journey through the world. She had tried to part with some of them, but it felt like giving away pieces of her soul.’

I loved this book. I feel more in tune with who I am having read this book. The ‘beautiful’ words from this book will stay with me forever.I started reading Beautiful Words on my Kindle but such is the nature of this tale - how it speaks to the heart of every book lover - I quickly had to buy a paperback (in actual fact, my daughter got it for me as she realised the connection I was forming with this book) so that I could fully immerse myself in the experience though highlighting and creating tabs of the wondrous experience that Vanessa provides her readers with in this unforgettable tale.

Vanessa wrote an article on the HarperCollins website (HERE) that shines a light on her own motivation and other similar books she has read that were based around a love of words. She was thrilled to finally gift us her book about books. With a main character who is a logophile (a lover of words) it's ironic and sad how she has lost her own story. ‘It’s a story about the stories we tell ourselves, the fallible nature of memory, and the power of words to heal.’ (Vaness McCausland)

‘She slipped a few books out, smoothing their worn covers, their browning pages, wondering about the others who had read them, the tea that might have been drunk over them. How their stories may have shaped their readers’ lives.’

I have read and loved all Vanessa’s previous books but her latest offering demonstrates how her writing has gone to the next level. In the lead character, Sylvie, you will find a friend. Vanessa’s ‘beautiful’ words exemplify such exquisite use of language that it is intoxicating (thus the necessary tabbing for future reference).  Yes, there is a wonderful tale full of mystery, there is romance and there are locales so vividly described as to lose yourself in. Overarching are themes ranging from fate and fortune, to abuse and heartbreak. The nod to literary classics from Salinger (The Catcher in the Rye) and Plath (The Bell Jar) will have you making your own investigations to cement links made. 

Reading this novel is to partake in a love story … a love story in celebration of words. The title could not be more apt. Vanessa has penned the ultimate indelible tale, equally compelling and tragic. You may wish to savour the words but these words will carry you along with a force of their own.  Thank you Vanessa for writing a book that I felt such a connection to - there are not enough ‘beautiful’ words to convey just how much I loved this book. 

‘I want to believe that there are more lives for us. But maybe that’s why we have books. Don’t you ever find it sad that you’re confined to your own story? That your life is bounded by your mind inside your own head?’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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