Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
|Lost and Found by Brooke Davis|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: Millie is abandoned in a department store, but far from being downhearted she starts on an adventure that will see her and Karl the touch typist and Agatha Pantha embark on a cross-Australia adventure. A tale of loss and grief that sparkles with wit and humour and observation. Slightly surreal but totally charming.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: January 2015|
Millie Bird keeps a notebook. She writes in it all of the Dead Things that she sees. Her Very First Dead Thing was her dog Rambo. Then there were other things a spider, a Bird… but then there was number 28. The twenty-eighth dead thing than Millie Bird noticed was her Dad.
He'd been ill. It wasn't like the old man she saw tossed into the air by a speeding car. Her Dad died in hospital… but he became a Dead Thing all the same. Millie Bird could probably have coped with that, as much as she loved her Dad more than anything in the world. Sadly, Millie's Mum didn't cope.
One day, in a department store, she told Millie to 'stay right there'. And she walked away. And she didn't come back.
That's when this adventure begins, with Millie under the Ginormous Undies in the department store. Staying right there, and waiting.
There's only so long a child can wait, so Millie goes exploring – and that's how she meets Karl the touch typist. Karl spends a lot of his time holding a coffee cup in the store café. He has his own sad story.
And then finally there is Agatha Pantha. Agatha lived across the road from Millie. She was a crazy old woman who never leaves her house. She's allowed the garden to grow up, with weeds obscuring the windows, with just a tiny hole that she can peer through and call abuse at passers-by. She measures her ageing in very precise minutes of the day and names her chairs by what she does when she sits in them. Maybe Agatha has a sad story too.
Brooke Davis lost her own mother in quite traumatic circumstances, and as she tells it the whole book is about grief, largely about her writing through, writing out, her own grief. On several levels that is undoubtedly true, but don't let it stop you reading the book.
Because it's lovely. It's funny, and its heart-warming, and it's delightful, and it's absurd.. and only in one or two places might it move you to tears. Mostly, and far more often, it will make you smile.
Imagine something somewhere between Thelma and Louise and Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Little Orphan Annie and all of your childhood comics with superhero caped crusaders… and you'll have begun to scratch the surface of this quirky Australian tale of misfit runaways.
Agatha and Karl and Millie are all looking for something, and at the same time they are all running away from something, and the truth is that none of them really know what either of those things are. Except Millie. Millie is just looking for her Mum – and somewhere along the way she wonders whether its fair that some people have Mums and some don't and what those who haven't should do with all their hugs.
So, in a way, it's also a tale about loneliness and about the rituals and barricades we create to deny that being alone makes us lonely. It's about small lives… and how, maybe, they could have been bigger lives.
The story is told in short episodes. It's told in the thoughts and the outbursts of the three main characters. There are occasional flash-backs to bring us some understanding of how Millie and Agatha and Karl got where they are… and in the flashbacks it's also a story about love: the love of a child for her parents, the love of a man for a woman who isn't very special except exceptionally so to him, the probable love of a woman for a husband who she assumed knew how she felt.
It's about how we feel love and express love and sometimes, maybe, don't.
Stylistically, it has the feel of the kind of books we read when we were kids. Classics aimed at what in modern publishing terms might be called Young Adults. Not written for children, the ideas being most definitely adult, but written in a naïve style. Short sections, broken chapters, headings like the third day of waiting or another fact Millie knows for sure.
I'm not sure whether I can apply this word to a book, but my overwhelming response to this one is that it is charming.
Such an old-fashioned word… but one that seems appropriate for this superbly well-observed tale, that wraps real life into the adventure of three eccentrics and makes it believable.
It is written by an Australian but I think it's also a story that could only play out in Australia, or maybe Canada… certainly it needs lots of very long distances to work. It needs a vast expanse, a world that can be experienced as big and empty in a way that it never is in Europe. We have our own kinds of empty, of lonely, but they're very different… and far less quaint.
Accept the surreal quality for what it is, but be sure there is real emotion behind the writing, and more than a little wisdom. For one thing that Millie does know for sure is that You Will Die… and You…and You… and it's Okay!
Really liked this – one of the few that I've got to the end of and turned right back to the beginning and started over.
Some things don't need comparators... just seek this one out with a completely open mind.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lost and Found by Brooke Davis at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Lost and Found by Brooke Davis at Amazon.com.
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