Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Guys! This is a whole book that not only uses the epistolary format; they have a whole aspect of the plot focused on letters and how important they are to people; how they can shape people lives and memories. How could I not love a novel like this?
Also again it’s a book dealing with grief and the relationship between siblings. It’s almost like it was written specifically for me. This is I think maybe the fourth book I’ve read this year where the relationship between siblings is one of the main story threads of the book and I love it.
I’ve probably mentioned one or two times before but I have a brother; he’s two years older than me and he annoys me so much but I love him so much more.
I spent quite a lot of this book thinking about what my reaction would be if I were in Rachel’s shoes. If he died and I was offered some kind of magical space that I could pretend he was still there, would I take it? Or would I try to be as open and public about it as I try to be about other areas of my life? Not for pity but maybe as a way to understand things, a way for me to grasp the enormity of how my life would’ve ended with him, would’ve been changed and reborn.
One of my pet hates is to buy a second-hand book and find it’s been written in and marked up and changed but I also think that’s what could be so beautiful about the Letters Library. That those notes can be cherished as glimpses into someone else’s life; as Rachel would say they can be the transmutation of memories. It’s a library of people.
We all know how much I love epistolary novels and I loved that Crowley managed to tell multiple stories and love affairs in a single book, using this technique. It’s one of the reasons I love this device so much: it’s telling the stories between the lines. What happens in the gaps is the important bit.
So it’s not just a love story of two best friends. It’s not just the despair of two ex-lovers, or a new doomed almost romance between two people whose identities are secret; or the budding friendships and stumbles of love. It’s all of that in just 288 pages and it’s beautiful.
Ok enough gushing about the device and onto the plot!
Henry was wonderful. Yes he was a complete idiot when it came to Amy and was entirely clueless about Rachel. It might just be me but I was really annoyed by Henry’s assumption that Rachel has just forgotten him or doesn’t miss him after moving away because she stops writing back to his emails. But I loved how he thought in books; how poems could become such monumental things; like how he starting quoting poetry and singing lyrics when he was drunk. I loved his love for George – that he would try again and again, regardless how badly things went to see her happy. I love that he saw his life in terms of the bookshop, his relationship to his parents was tied to books – the books like Great Expectations that forms his views on his parents relationship (notes from his mum and dad were left to each other in the Letters Library; his relationship to his whole family is told in books – how they discuss them at Friday night dinners.
George was brilliant too – I was so heartbroken when I realised she had been writing to Cal. That they had fallen in love and she was finally able to let herself be vulnerable only to be met with the pain and grief of losing them. It was heart-breaking waiting for Cal’s final letter; waiting for when Rachel and George would learn the truth of each other and waiting to see how Rachel would finally break the news to George.
I was secretly hoping for a happy ending that somehow the bookshop would be magically saved at the end – maybe Fredrick would buy it out or something but there did seem to be a nice resolution to everything. I have to say though that Michael just deciding he’d bugger off and go travelling for a while not even considering his kids – what if they didn’t want to live with Sophia? – was a bit of a dick move.
This sounds like me just listing all the characters I loved but I thought Rachel was so well done. As I said at the beginning of the post I can’t imagine losing my brother. I think it was handled really well – Rachel was trying to find her way through her grief; find her way through being back home with people who used to know her. Obviously an easy way through for her would be to be angry, to push everyone away, and to lie to everyone.
All in all I really, really liked this book. I absolutely adore epistolary novels and I loved a book full of books. I went in to this book not really knowing much of what to expect other than the device; it had siblings; it had explorations of grief and it had letters – pretty awesome.
See you in the future! ♥