Ten Things I've Learnt About Love

Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love

A Novel

Written by:

Additional Formats
  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781101617984
  • 272 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


About to turn thirty, Alice is the youngest of three daughters, and the black sheep of her family.  Drawn to traveling in far-flung and often dangerous countries, she has never enjoyed the closeness with her father that her two older sisters have and has eschewed their more conventional career paths.  She has left behind a failed relationship in London with the man she thought she might marry and is late to hear the news that her father is dying.  She returns to the family home only just in time to say good-bye.

Daniel is called many things—"tramp", "bum", "lost."  He hasn’t had a roof over his head for almost thirty years, but he once had a steady job and a passionate love affair with a woman he’s never forgotten.  To him, the city of London has come to be like home in a way that no bricks and mortar dwelling ever was.  He makes sculptures out of the objects he finds on his walks throughout the city—bits of string and scraps of paper, a child’s hair tie, and a lost earring—and experiences synesthesia, a neurological condition which causes him to see words and individual letters of the alphabet as colors.  But as he approaches his sixties his health is faltering, and he is kept alive by the knowledge of one thing—that he has a daughter somewhere in the world whom he has never been able to find.

A searching and inventive debut, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love is a story about finding love in unexpected places, about rootlessness and homecoming, and the power of the ties that bind.  It announces Sarah Butler as a major new talent for telling stories that are heart-wrenching, page-turning, and unforgettable.


“Heartbreaking and hopeful, Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love crisscrosses London in a layered search for fathers and daughters, family and home. For anyone who has ever wondered where they belong, or to whom they belong—the answer can be found within Sarah Butler’s tender debut novel.”
—Vanessa Diffenbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of The Language of Flowers

“If this weren’t billed as a debut novel, one would never know it. Sarah Butler writes with the deftness and delicacy of a master storyteller, giving us a compassionate, achingly beautiful rendering of a father and daughter.”
—Hillary Jordan, bestselling author of Mudbound and When She Woke

“TEN THINGS I’VE LEARNT ABOUT LOVE explores the intricacies of familial relationships and what an individual is willing to sacrifice to preserve the relationships and the people in his or her life. Combining detailed storytelling with character-revealing lists of 10 things her protagonists have learned to treasure, Butler establishes herself as a talent to watch.”
—Carla Jean Whitley, Bookpage

“Butler’s poignant first novel has a distinct sense of place and sympathetic characters who have much in common.”
Library Journal

“Butler’s elegant prose makes this a moving debut.”
Publishers Weekly

“[A] soulful debut . . . Spare language and an atmosphere of foreboding will keep readers on tenterhooks.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“Butler’s graceful debut explores life’s heartbreaks, unexpected family bonds, and the search for home. . . . [The] narrative’s controlled suspense and unanswered questions make for a satisfying tale.”

“Graceful and subtle… love, in all its shape-shifting complexity, is at the core of this novel; that and the consequences – good and bad – of keeping secrets…  The shifting and intricate dynamics of family life, and the vertiginously painful feelings of loss induced by relationship breakdown and bereavement, are written with imaginative precision.  This is a thought- as well as emotion-provoking novel…  It also sparkles with hope.”
­—Lisa Gee, The Independent
“Increasingly suspenseful… a moving and satisfying debut”
—John Harding, The Daily Mail
“This poignant novel about fathers and daughters, homecoming and restlessness, is also a love letter to London…  Butler has viewed the city in all its weathers and moods, and this shines through on every page.  Equally elegant are her observations of the emotional turmoil of her main characters as they pace the capital’s highways and byways, united by a secret… A moving, life-affirming debut.”
­Marie Claire (UK)