Friday, 29 December 2017
The keeper of lost things by Ruth Hogan
Just a few days before Christmas I was telling my friend, that I should stop buying paperbacks, at least for a while, as in the last year I bought well over 50 paperbacks, and hardly read any of them. I should stop looking at the tempting emails from The Book People and avoid book aisles in Sainsbury's where you can find such fabulous bargains.
And then what did I do? I popped into The Works shop which has opened a couple of weeks ago in town, and bought three paperbacks for a fiver. I could have bought many more though, as there were lots of thrillers, history books and cook books which called to me "Buy me, buy me, you know you want to..."
Yes, my name is Galina, and I am a bookaholic. Not sure I want to be cured though.
Cured or not cured, I really need to cull my shopping habits. So, my resolution for January is not to buy a single book. Until I read at least five paperbacks and take them to the charity shop, I am forbidden even to look at new books.
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan was one of the three books I bought at The Works. It was on my to-read list for a while, as I remember reading very positive reviews. The endorsements on the cover call it charming, exquisite and wonderful.
I picked it to take with me to Italy, to read on the flight, hoping to get distracted a little bit from panic (I hate flying).
I enjoyed the story of the keeper of lost things - Anthony Peardrew - who couldn't resist picking up random objects people lost, labelling them and inventing a story behind each item.
Years ago, he has lost his fiancee Therese who unexpectedly died of a heart attack. He also lost a keepsake from her, for which he couldn't forgive himself.
Rescuing lost objects becomes an addiction. He tries to find their rightful owners, though unsuccessfully. In the meantime, his stories get published, and his collection of lost things is spiraling out of control.
His stories are mostly sad and miserable, and at times bordering on bitchy: in a green hair bobble story he talks of "a school full of chip-fed, benefits-bred kids, most of whom already believed that the world owed them a council flat, a baby and the latest pair of Nike trainers". Meaw.
When he understands that he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its treasures and tat to his secretary/assistant Laura. He also leaves her a task to try to reunite the lost objects with their owners (a bit cheeky, if you think, since he didn't manage to return a single thing).
His treasures range from mildly meaningful objects like a single glove to outright tat like a piece of puzzle, or a hair bobble with plastic flowers.
While eccentric Anthony appears to be an endearing, if a bit doolally gentleman, Laura is one of those people who have no purpose in life.
She married young to a jerk, divorced him, but never managed to move on. She is insipid and lifeless.
The inheritance spurs her to do something different with her life.
With the help of the dishy gardener Freddy she starts writing a website The keeper of lost things.
And then there's Sunshine, a girl next door with a Down's Syndrome, who decides to befriend sad Laura. Sunshine's parents seem to be happy for someone else to keep her company all day. At first Laura tries to avoid this very intense friendship, and who wouldn't?!
Sunshine comes to visit Laura every day, and though she knows that Laura hides from her, she still insists on coming. Sunshine is psychic, but is lacking social skills.
Then there is a parallel love story of Eunice and her boss Bomber, their pet dogs and an abysmal sister Portia. Portia is the caricature, a Cruella de Vil, with literary aspirations, who writes fan-fic, and doesn't have a single redeeming feature.
The story line of Eunice and Bomber will eventually be entwined with the main protagonist's quest. They would make a perfect couple, who understand each other and share love of movies, dogs and pastries, but their union is purely platonic.
Eunice's unrequited love is another story of loss and grief.
The story is charming, with an old-fashioned feel to it, and rightly appeals to the readers of The Lady magazine. It is also sentimental and slightly contrived in parts, when all the story lines conveniently come to a neat ending. I disliked the supernatural element of the story, with the sullen ghost of Therese locking doors and playing music non-stop.
I wanted to love this book, I truly did. In a way, I enjoyed it, as it was different.
Have you read The Keeper of Lost Things?