The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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Buy The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Heartwarming and engaging from the start, this is a mysterious, ghostly, magical love story with some really wonderful characters and a brilliant premise.
Buy? yes Borrow? yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2017
Publisher: Two Roads
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781473635463

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Anthony Peardew lost the love of his life before they married. In the midst of his tragedy he found solace and purpose in collecting 'lost things' - things that were left behind on trains, in parks, or found in the gutter, and he records each and every one carefully, in the hope that perhaps some day they can be reunited with their rightful owner. He writes stories about the items he finds, becoming a published author. However, as he grows older and starts to realise that he is dying, he knows he must hand over the task to someone else, choosing his housekeeper, Laura, to take on what is, to her, a completely unknown aspect of his life.

The premise for this story is wonderful. Anthony's study sounds like a place of wonders, full of drawers and shelves with thousands of items, each one carefully labelled with the relevant discovery details. In fact, his whole house (called Padua) is enchanting. I imagined it much like the dream house I will probably never own! It has a peace and stillness about it, that soothes everyone who enters. Laura, the housekeeper, certainly starts to find peace after she begins working there. She is divorced, from an extremely unhappy marriage, and working for Anthony becomes a precious escape for her, away from her difficult memories into this gentle, peaceful home.

After Anthony's death, Laura feels overwhelmed by the scale of the task ahead of her, yet she has some help in the form of Anthony's gardener, and also one of the neighbours, a girl called Sunshine. Sunshine was my favourite character in the book. She has Down's syndrome, though she herself refers to it as 'dancing drome', and she gets all the best lines in the book! I loved her sixth sense about the various lost items, and her childlike innocence collides wonderfully with her moments of real insight and intuition. Together they work to solve the mysteries of the lost items, as well as a larger ghostly mystery in the house.

Within the book there is also another story, that of Eunice and Bomber, set further back in time. I particularly enjoyed this strand of the story, though I felt the two characters had an air of being back in the 1940's rather than the 70's and 80's. The two characters are endearing, and their growing relationship is very sweet. I felt, at times, that I was much more interested in their story than in Laura's, since Laura tended to be quite negative and I enjoyed the bustle and banter of Eunice and Bomber's story. In the end, the two strands of story do come together in a magical (if slightly unbelievable) way!

There are also short stories taken from Anthony's writings sprinkled throughout the book. These often have a slightly darker feel than the book itself, and I felt that some of them worked better than others. They do help with creating the mystery around all the lost objects, and I do have half a mind to start picking up 'lost' things that I see myself now!

There were many aspects of this book that I really liked. The house, Sunshine the neighbour, and wonderful Anthony who sounds like the very best old man you could hope to be working for. As I mentioned, I also particularly liked Eunice and Bomber's story. It was very comical, but also heartwarming too, and even though the villain of the story, Bomber's sister Portia, is rather pantomime I still enjoyed her little set pieces, and the resolution to her part of the story did make me sniff back a tear or two! The range of characters is handled beautifully, and they all feel like real individuals. My only issue was with Laura herself, whom I didn't really bond with somehow. I did understand her deep unhappiness, and her lack of self confidence, but after a while I found I stopped feeling sorry for her and her floundering became annoying! Still, if I overlook Laura the book is clever and sweet and intriguing. It's about being lost, and being found, and although Laura becomes the keeper of lost things, she also finds Sunshine, and love and she helps lay the lost ghosts of the house to rest, as well as finding herself. It's a great bedtime read, though difficult to put down, so keep an eye on the clock!

Further reading suggestion: For more cosy yet moving reads you might also enjoy The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald or The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman.

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Buy The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan at Amazon.com.

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