Book Reviews

You’ve Got Mail: The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen @sriya__v @MichaelJBooks #BlogTour

Branching out has never felt so good. Neither has it ever made me feel so old, haha! While reading today’s book, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I missed letters. I used to receive lots of them. Now when you need to reach someone, you send them a message on Twitter, you wish them happy birthday on Facebook. You ask for information by email.

Yes, postal services cost an arm and I can say I haven’t been the luckiest when it comes to receiving my packages, but nothing beats that feeling when you open your mailbox and find something with your name on it…

I would like to thank the team at Michael Joseph for sending me a copy of this novel and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

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Title: The Lost Letters of William Woolf
Author: Helen Cullen
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Date of publication: 2 May 2019
Format: paperback
Source: Publisher
Number of pages: 416

Inside East London’s Dead Letters Depot, William Woolf unites lost mail with its intended recipient. White mice, a miniature grandfather clock and a full suit of armour are among the more unusual items lost then found thanks to William’s detective work. But when he discovers a series of letters addressed only to ‘My Great Love’, everything changes.

Written by Winter to a soulmate she hasn’t yet met, her heartfelt words stir William in ways he has long forgotten. Could they be destined for him? But what about his troubled marriage? Following the clues in Winter’s letters is the only way for William to solve the mystery of his own heart.


When was the last time you wrote a letter? The last time you received one? I am not talking about emails, or post-its, but real letters. The ones for which you carefully choose the words, an image of the recipient in mind, the tip of the pen pausing at times to give you time to think.

My last letter came from a dear friend, only a couple of weeks ago. I feel lucky. Letters are personal, they create a connection between two people, one that no virtual message can recreate. I think this is the reason why I chose to read The Lost Letters of William Woolf. I miss the old days. I miss the importance of a piece of paper, the weight of it, and the care behind the words. Nostalgia made me pick up the novel. I must thank it, for I have found a deeply moving story and met characters made of flesh, blood, and ink.

I am very nosey, so I would love to work alongside William Woolf at the Dead Letters Depot! There is something exciting in opening letters and packages that have lost their way. A sleuth lost in the midst of millions of unread words, William does his best to decipher hints and solve mysteries. If some might think ‘why bother’ the task means a lot to William, whose favourite part lays in the reunification of a letter and a person. His willingness to do his job right, not for personal satisfaction, but to repair postal glitches, moved me. As shown in the book, what may look like a piece of paper for an outsider can mean the world to someone waiting for it.

When William discovers a series of letter addressed to ‘My Great Love’ things turn personal. During his quest to uncover the sender, William will discover more than a name. The hunt, soon to become an obsession, turns his life upside down, helped by fate, years of marriage, and a little kick from life.

‘Maybe the letters who need us the most find us’

I loved the content of those letters. Romantic, hopeful, and honest, Winter, the sender, has her feet on the ground and her head in the sky. She is lost in a sea of faces, bodies, and wonders when will her time to love arrive. We all wonder about the person who will make our heart beat faster and our legs turn to jelly at one point in our life. Helen Cullen reminded me how sweet it is to wander the streets and imagine you’ve just crossed path with The One.

But William already has ‘The One’. Clare is busy lawyer, a woman strangled in her own life. Despite sharing a bed for the last fourteen years, William and Clare have become a mystery to each other, just as one of those enigmas William deals with at work. Far from their early days and months, they have grown into different people, letting the universe create different paths for each of them.

As William digs deeper to find Winter, the woman who opened his eyes after the long nap that has been his world for years now, he gets a chance to bring back the pieces of puzzle that is his life. Torn by feelings he had forgotten, William fights the current. The author’s writing is curved and stunning, making the novel a relatable story. I loved every word.

If you wake up one day and realise your life is not what you wanted it to be, what do you do? If doors appear in front of you, one hiding a new life, one taking you back to who you were before becoming aware of what you’ve let pass by you, one ready to throw you in the unknown… Different scenarios, and it’s William and Clare’s job to choose a way to go.

Helen Cullen raises questions of dreams meeting reality. She tackles our expectations, for ourselves and those around us. She explores the ‘what if’s and the meaning of the love of one’s life. What we think love is and what it truly is often gets mixed up. Rich and complex, The Lost Letter of William Woolf shows how daily life can remove the colours of a relationship, leaving broken people to face a grey world. William and Clare are two flawed and magnificent human beings going through the motion. Their story is one of possibilities, choices, and love.

Happy paperback publication day to the author!

Grab your copy of this deeply moving, entertaining, and superb novel here!

Discover more about William and Clare with this fantastic blog tour!

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about the author

helen cullen

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’ was published by Penguin in July 2018 in the UK, Ireland, Australia and South Africa. It will be published in America by Harper Collins in June 2019 and has sold in translation to numerous foreign markets including Italy, Germany, Russia, Greece and Israel where it hit the bestseller charts in August. The TV option for the book has also been acquired by Mainstreet Pictures.

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 was nominated as Best Newcomer in the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018.

Helen is now writing full-time and working on her second novel. She is also a contributor to the Irish Times newspaper and Sunday Times Magazine.


24 thoughts on “You’ve Got Mail: The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen @wordsofhelen @sriya__v @MichaelJBooks #BlogTour”

  1. You are absolutely right! I miss the old days of receiving letters or even postcards… Social media isn’t always an improvement. That said, I love the sound of this story! Fantastic review. xx


  2. Sounds good! And letters are so much more romantic / intriguing than emails / texts etc. I can’t remember the last time I actually wrote or received a handwritten letter! I suppose with the rise of technology, expectations of instant information and the cost of postage now, people just don’t think of writing letters.


  3. Oh gosh you’ve really evoked the feeling of nostalgia here!! (I miss letters!! Most of what I get in the post is junk and bills lol!) This sounds like such a beautiful, relatable story- wonderful review!


  4. Fabulous review! I’m definitely going to buy this book after reading your thoughts on it. It’s made me feel nostalgic for the days of letter writing too. I used to write so many letters and I enjoyed it so much but these days it’s so rare. x


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