The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Published:  Oct. 29, 2019 – St. Martin’s Griffin

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

For fans of Josie Silver’s One Day in December, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a wholly original, charismatic, and uplifting novel that no reader will soon forget.

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Now, finally, she can be a normal twenty-eight-year-old. She can climb a mountain. Dance. Wait in line all day for tickets to Wimbledon.

But first, she has to put one foot in front of the other. So far, things are as bloody complicated as ever. Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point and she wants to find her father. Then there’s Lennox, whom Ailsa loved and lost. Will she ever find love again?

Her new heart is a bold heart. She just needs to learn to listen to it. From the hospital to her childhood home, on social media and IRL, Ailsa will embark on a journey about what it means to be, and feel, alive. How do we learn to be brave, to accept defeat, to dare to dream?

From Stephanie Butland, author of The Lost for Words BookshopThe Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae will warm you from the inside out. (publisher)

My take:  Take one completely engaging lead character (Ailsa), add a life-threatening condition, a sparkling cast of characters with issues of their own, and tango – well that’s a recipe for a novel that made me happy I’m a reader.

Ailsa was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and has managed to stay alive until the age of twenty-eight when a compatible heart becomes available. She thought the journey to that day was hard. And it was. But she learns that living with her new heart has a new set of challenges, not the least being brave enough to put herself out there in this new life.

The story is told through the blog she set up related to her condition, emails and texts with various people, and the story of past relationships. I hesitate to expand but I can say I’m very glad to have had the chance to read Stephanie Butland’s second novel. It’s an emotional novel and one that left me with a happy heart.


About the author:

Photograph by Elliott Franks

STEPHANIE BUTLAND lives with her family near the sea in the North East of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun, she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet and the author of The Lost for Words Bookshop.

Book-buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250242174


 

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

Finished copy courtesy of St. Martin’s Press

Description:  Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look carefully, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are some things Loveday will never, ever show you.

Into her hiding place – the bookstore where she works – come a poet, a lover, and three suspicious deliveries.

Someone has found out about her mysterious past. Will Loveday survive her own heartbreaking secrets? (publisher)

My take:  With her life determined by the adults when she was a young girl, Loveday grows up relying on no one but herself and her love of books. As a young adult aging out of the foster system she found comfort in the used bookstore where she got a job that paid the rent for a bed sit and gave her access to books. She’s always on her guard knowing only she can protect herself from what life can deal out. Equal parts charming, sad, humorous and life-affirming The Lost for Words Bookshop is filled with quirky characters who hold their own secrets. I enjoyed it all and recommend it to bibliophiles and people who love a love story. Discussion questions and a conversation with the author are included at the end.


About the author:

Stephanie Butland lives with her family near the sea in the northeast of England. She writes in a studio at the bottom of her garden, and when she’s not writing, she trains people to think more creatively. For fun she reads, knits, sews, bakes, and spins. She is an occasional performance poet.


Praise for The Lost For Words Bookshop:

“The latest from Butland is an appealing novel about love’s many forms and the power of books. Rich characterizations, a vibrant bookstore setting, and several poignant Wednesday poetry nights will have readers hoping for a sequel.” – Publishers Weekly

“Witty and irreverent…a bibliophile’s delight.” – Matthew Sullivan, author of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

“Burns fiercely with love and hurt. A rare and beautiful novel.” – Linda Green, bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed

“Filled with mystery and intrigue, Butland’s latest takes readers on a literary journey via chapters that jump through time and are named for distinct genres of crime, poetry, history and travel. Lovers of literature will enjoy this mix of contemporary women’s fiction and mystery.” – Library Journal