I have just finished reading the most scrumptious book by Ruth Hogan. Her debut book in fact, The Keeper of Lost Things. The title alone is a gem. There is something inherently beautiful and enthralling about lost things. Those things that lay abandoned on the path, or a wall, or a train seat. Remnants of the people who have lost, or simply left, them still hovering close by. They hold a story and this book is about just a few of them.
It ultimately tells the story of Laura, who inherits the magical home and life’s work of Anthony Peardew, The Keeper of Lost Things. Anthony, in his youth, lost two precious things in one day. One was his young fiancée who died suddenly on a street in London, the other fell from his pocket as Anthony hurried to meet her.
From that day, perhaps to fill the void left behind, Anthony began to collect all manner of lost things, from a child’s lime green bobble, to a single jigsaw piece. Whatever it might be, Anthony took it into his care in the hope that, one day, it might be reunited with the owner, and perhaps mend a broken heart. He never does manage this so the task falls to his assistant Laura, who is soon, very fortunately for her (and the book), befriended by a young girl, Sunshine, who lives across the street, and the gardener, Freddy, whom she inherited with the house.
The three of them make a lovable trio and Sunshine, particularly, is such a divine character adding a dry, mostly unintentional (on her part), humour to the story. Her funeral reading is just fantastic – I won’t say more as I wouldn’t want to spoil it.
Perhaps my recent foray into writing and reading flash fiction has enhanced my enjoyment as I am in the habit of experiencing how joyous short ventures into fictional worlds can be. This book is a treasure trove of stories just as Anthony’s study is a treasure trove of lost things, and they encapsulate the joy, reality, harsh misfortune and beauty of life. The whole concept is just beautiful – simple and stunning. Sorry to be dramatic but it made my heart sing and I’m furious I haven’t written it!
Ruth Hogan writes with such eloquence, and her book is wonderfully crafted. The chapter that begins with a ruby drop of blood falling on to Laura’s lemon skirt, takes us first to the crimson roses of the garden and then to the glinting of a blood red stone on the shelf in the study. From here we learn its story. The story of Eliza told through her grandmother, Lillia’s, eyes as she watches her walk down the aisle to a loveless marriage, a ruby red engagement ring adorning the third finger of her left hand. Just one of many stories, lovingly presented to us. These are the things – the details- that make a novel a true piece of art.
If you haven’t read this book – stop what you are doing right now and purchase it or reserve it at your library – you can buy it at the supermarket there is no excuse – just obtain it through whatever means. Then sit yourself down with ‘the lovely cup of tea’ and enjoy. This isn’t one to blow your socks off with suspense, but it will leave you feeling like you’re wearing your thickest, most cosy pair.
Find out more about Ruth Hogan and her books here.