Once again that “don’t judge a book by its cover” theory is blown out of the water. I absolutely, and quite shamelessly, chose this book for its is stunning cover, and I was not disappointed – the story is every bit as beautiful as its cover!In fact, I started reading this on my Kindle and have since bought the actual book- some books are just too great to read on a screen. I hope that there will soon be another offering from Ms Hogan and the growth of a whole new collection on my bookshelf.
It has all the elements that every good page turner needs, love, heartbreak, laughter, tears, a gentle flirtation with the supernatural, a generous sprinkling of magic and a truly delicious vocabulary- I was hooked from the first paragraph:
“Charles Branwell Brockley was travelling alone and without a ticket on the 14:42 from London Bridge to Brighton. The Huntley and Palmers biscuit tin in which he was travelling teetered precariously on the edge of the seat as the train juddered to a halt at Haywards Heat. But just as it toppled forward towards the carriage floor it was gathered up by a safe pair of hands.”
By the time I reached “every drawer was filled with a sad salmagundi of forty years” on page 2 I knew this book was special; it is itself a true Salmagundi. It crosses years, has a delightful mix of very different characters, and intertwines layer upon layer of story. It never stands still.
I adored every character, from Anthony Peardew, the keeper himself, right through to the odious Portia with her hilarious literary parodies; my favourite is however, the delightful Sunshine – if ever a character lived up to her name it is this one. Her unique take on life, empathy and understanding draws the characters around her together and guides them on an journey of exploration, a quest to rehome lost things with the help of “the lovely cup of tea“. This story comes full circle in examining how one persons junk is another persons treasure, how something as trivial as a hair bobble can be part of a pivotal moment in someone’s life story. Each character is linked intrinsically yet their individual stories are clear, unique, and stand alone.
I love the vintage feel of this book. Although the basis of the story is set in the modern day, both the physical book and the stories within screams of days gone by. From the thick, crisp paper jacket so reminiscent of the beautiful books passed down to me by my mother, to the hints of rose scented perfume and the melodic tones of Al Bowlly’s “The Very Thought of You” that return again and again through the story. Hogan tells the tale in such a way that you can almost hear the crackles on the record player.
For me, reading this book had the same effect as Bert the Chimney-Sweeps street paintings had on the Banks’children in Mary Poppins. I was pulled in and completely absorbed into a world that became real, alive and vibrant. For three days I lived and breathed “Lost Things”, the washing up quite simply had to wait! I don’t think I will ever look at another piece of lost property in quite the same way – this is a book that will stay with me.