The Keeper of Lost Things: The feel-good novel of the year
By Ruth Hogan
WE’RE ALL JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND…An irresistible debut novel of lost objects and second chances, in the vein of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Rosie Project.Tweet
A very unique and clever premise for a book. Anthony is the “keeper of lost things”, the eponymous hero. He collects items which he finds and which he believes to have been lost. He carefully catalogues them all with the hope that he will one day be able to restore them to their owners and bring them happiness. When Anthony dies he leaves both his estate and the responsibility for completing his life’s work to Laura, his housekeeper/secretary.
It is a charming book which I really enjoyed, as did the rest of the Book Group. All the characters are entirely plausible and largely likeable (which always helps!). It is very easy to read and a great story, both from the point of view of the “lost things” and also from the way the lives of the characters in the book develop. I found myself creating opportunities to read because I wanted to find out what happened next. It is “holiday read” material rather than a deep and meaningful work of literature, but I don’t have a problem with that.
My only criticism is that there are a few instances of curious things happening and these are never explained. This takes parts of the book into the realm of the paranormal. The whole concept of the book was so wonderful that I really wanted to be transported into a world which I believed was real. I think these minor deviations from reality were unnecessary and, for me, detracted from the perfection of the book.
My only disappointment is that it is a debut novel. Ruth - please keep writing as I can’t wait for your next one! This really was a very good first book.
A very enjoyable read. It is a gentle tale and you feel a genuine interest in and affection for the main characters.
Sunshine's refreshing honesty was a source of joy and amusement. I laughed out loud when she declared to the Christmas dinner gathering"Freddy's crap in the sack". Sunshine cried out for respect and eventually achieved it.
Although the story has a definite"feel good" factor it is not sugary sweet and your feet are kept firmly on the ground by the rawness of some of the memory stories.
Therese has been dead for 40 years but has a presence and I had a sympathy for her actions.
I do have reservations about Portia and Felicity. Would sudden wealth really have turned Portia into a monster. She has her friends but surely she would still love her family as well. Similarly I didn't feel that I knew enough about Felicity to simply dismiss her.
Cheers Anne P.
This 'first novel' is a good choice for a book group. It invites curiosity about the characters and subject matter, dazzles with ironic observations, extends empathy to even the most unlikeable human beings, and gives dog-lovers a literary outing. Also, it should stimulate discussion.
Is anyone in the book group sure about the story, its construction, development, proportion of sound reason to logical fantasy? Perhaps opinions will depend on how much magic the group members have experienced in their lives, how often they have been startled by sheer coincidence and impossible explanations, or whether they went through the looking-glass to Wonderland, or through the wardrobe to Narnia, and never came back.
There's much to love in this prompting towards kind-hearted caring for lost things, accidentally lost, leaving gaps in lives, or clues to significant moments. Dipping into different decades can be confusing, and short stories without sequels can be annoying; (there should have been a satisfying nemesis for the confidence tricksters who killed elderly, vulnerable Edna, in order to get her house). But somehow, it all works!
We move into Anthony's house, where lost things are kept, with Laura, who is to fall in love with Freddy the gardener. We move into publisher Bomber's office with Eunice, who falls in love with him as she arrives to become his assistant. Each evolving 'romance' has a small cast of characters, some with links to the 'lost things'. Of these portrayals, the outstanding success is Sunshine, who has Down's Syndrome. Her wise, affectionate contributions to the story, in addition to 'the lovely cup of tea', have the grace and dexterity of the Anjali Dancers.
You may laugh out loud at the comedies waiting for Laura and Eunice; so don't read this book on a train. Or, what if events disrupt your journey, and you leave it there?
This book is not to be lost, but shared.
Crafted in an unusual way, this was a lovely book to read. I enjoyed the little stories about the lost items which were often bittersweet, such as Maud and Gladys' tale and Eliza's wedding.
These reflected a sadness in the main characters' lives.
I really sniggered at many of the humorous passages: the WI lady's knowledge of something Italian she'd had in a restaurant, incidents with Portia and Sunshine's honesty. I also found the treatment of old age and Alzheimer's sympathetic.
All in all it was a very enjoyable read -and I will certainly look out for other titles from Ruth Hogan - who I assume is a fellow dog-lover, judging by the pride of place given to Douglas and Carrott!
A good holiday read with some depth. Ruth Hogan successfully intertwined a number of different stories, including a selection of short stories. there were a variety of interesting characters that move the story forward. Whilst most of the book feels real e.g. the portrayal of dementia, the supernatural element is less believable. The ending was a bit predictable but a nice feel-good factor about it.
Sunny Hill Book Club
I really enjoyed this book. Whimsical and gentle, it is a tale and of life and loss and resolves easily, if a little predictably. The working of the characters is believable and it deals with Downs syndrome very well. Sunshine places herself at the centre of the action and in many ways she is the inheritor of the title Keeper of Lost Things. Recommended.