Book Review: The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland

About the Book:

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 rift 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.

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Released 1st December 2021

My Thoughts:

Since it’s release, I have seen and heard nothing but love for this novel, The Beautiful Words, and now that I’ve read it for myself, I completely understand what all the fuss is about. What a gorgeous, heartfelt, deeply affecting novel this is.

‘The feelings of others were not something intellectual that Sylvie could regard at a distance, she felt them in her own body, she wore others’ scars as though they were her own. Feelings were catching things. They were alive and physical.’

This novel was so much more than what I had anticipated going in. I thought it was going to be a story about a lost friendship rekindled with some secrets from the past aired out and then laid to rest. In keeping with this, I was expecting an easy going read. But while that is the theme going in, the story rapidly morphs into so much more and the depths the author took us to was stunning, the range of topics woven seamlessly together.

When I think about this novel from here on in, it will always be as a love letter to words. That more than anything else stood out for me. Sylvie was a collector of words, inscribing them into her notebook as a means, initially, to aid her damaged memory, but later, as a way of coping when stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed. I just loved the wordy part of this novel so much. Words prefacing each chapter, Sylvie’s words that she would inscribe, the words that would pop into her head which formed part of her inner dialogue. All the beautiful words, just as the novel is named.

Please read this book. And then give it to a friend as a gift. It’s magnificent.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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