Words in Deep Blue – Cath Crowley

…thanks to the booksellers – old and new – and thanks to the writers, without who, the world would be a terrible place, bleak beyond imagining.’

With these words Cath Crowley completed her acknowledgments for ‘Words in Deep Blue’ – and for a time this world was ‘…bleak beyond imaging,…’ for Rachel Sweetie. She’d just about given up on life after the death of her brother Cal.

Once upon a time she was in love with Henry, but he was in the thrall of Amy. Amy’s sort of keen on Henry, but only as a back-up. When school jock Greg shows some interest, she drops him like a hot potato. George, Henry’s sister, is entranced by an unknown letter writer (yes, old style letters. Yay) Could the mystery lad of letters be stolid Martin who definitely has the hots for her? Also there’s a parental relationship under strain, that of Henry’s dad Michael’s with his wife. As well there are musicians to factor in – Lola and Hiroko, who are having a tough time in their dealings with each other. Phew!

But Crowley, whose father’s death was in part the inspiration for this lovely tome, weaves it all perfectly. And yes, there is a Hollywood ending, but the journey getting there was a most engaging one.

Michael runs Howling Books, largely second hand, but with a permanent collection of treasures in a room designed as a place where letters can be left between the covers, as well as a garden for quiet perusing. Sounds delightful, but its struggling financially and the developers are circling. Some of the aforementioned characters are employed in the family business and are imbued with an intimate knowledge of the literary giants, past and present. And for them poetry is not a forgotten art.

As well as grieving for her father, Cath C wrote this fine fare as she was falling in love with the man she was soon to marry, so the book is imbued not only with sadness, but sees the effect that the love of those around her can have on Rachel as she climbs up from her abyss. In this she is aided by a change in location, working in the shop with Henry and a love of books. Amy and Greg provide the counter-points to the more nuanced personalities of the two main protagonists as the latter get their bearings in life ready to move on. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent with them and was sorry to leave as they readied to take the next step.

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