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Thief of Words    by John Jaffe order for
Thief of Words
by John Jaffe
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This story begins and ends with reporter wunderkind Annie Hollerman, whose life as a journalist is derailed by her own action, hidden from the reader. Twenty years after the novel opens we meet a divorced Annie, who owns her own literary agency, and her best friend Laura, who is trying to set Annie up with her boss, Jack DePaul.

Laura believes they are made for each other because they share a lifelong love for language and literature, and besides Annie needs 'a man with a good ass' and Jack fits the bill. Jack, in turn, is trying to get over a relationship that has been 'the soap opera from hell'. Though Annie's background makes her reluctant to get involved with a newspaperman and despite 'feeling stretched as saltwater taffy' she agrees to meet Jack for lunch.

Thus begins a relationship between individuals as human, endearing and vulnerable as any pair in a Nicholas Sparks novel. Their courtship unfolds through cyberspace in a manner reminiscent of You've Got Mail, and the romance soon sizzles. Subsidiary characters are strong and entertaining, from Annie's assistant and friend Fred who, at seventy-four, 'wrapped his arms around every day as if it were a grandchild', to one of her many idiosyncratic authors, the divorced and lucratively enraged She-Devil.

After Jack and Annie share, over lunch, the yearning for unfulfilled dreams common to midlife, Jack decides to woo Annie with words by writing 'adventure, passion, and laughter' into both their pasts. He does this beautifully, and the feelings between the two grow in a manner that brings to mind all the anticipation and dreams that underly a growing love. Then, as their relationship peaks, both their pasts catch up with them in an avalanche of misunderstanding.

Many of the characters can be labeled as thieves of words in this novel, but it's Jack who has the last word in a delightful twist of a happy ending. Let Thief of Words make love to you with the power of language; I guarantee it will leave you satisfied.

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