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The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel

The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel

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The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel

évaluations:
4/5 (172 évaluations)
Longueur:
330 pages
5 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Feb 21, 2017
ISBN:
9780062473578
Format:
Livre

Description

Written by Scribd Editors

An endearing, fantastical, and subtly moving debut novel that takes on the possibilities and joyful discoveries that often underlie the promises that we make and break. It is a story of losing and finding ourselves, of realizing that objects hold magic and meaning in our individual and shared lives, and a quest to find the surprising connections that endlessly bind us.

"Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles-Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.
"Bone china cup and saucer-Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October."

Anthony Peardew, the self proclaimed keeper of lost things, assigned himself the quest after carelessly losing a priceless keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. The very day that he lost it, she died unexpectedly, and ever since then Anthony has continually sought consolation in rescuing lost objects and writing quaint stories about them. He finds objects that have been dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind, taking them into his care with the intention to eventually return them to their original owner. Now, entering the twilight years of his life, Anthony realizes that he has not fulfilled his duty of seeking out the owners of his collection; while nearing his deathbed he bequeaths his secret life's mission to his assistant, Laura, leaving his house in her care and all the lost treasures her responsibility.
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Feb 21, 2017
ISBN:
9780062473578
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Ruth Hogan describes herself as a “rapacious reader, writer, and incorrigible magpie” whose own love of small treasures and curiosities and the people around her inspired her first novel. She lives north of London.

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The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan

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CHAPTER 1

Charles Bramwell Brockley was traveling alone and without a ticket on the 14:42 from London Bridge to Brighton. The Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin in which he was traveling teetered precariously on the edge of the seat as the train juddered to a halt at Haywards Heath. But just as it toppled forward toward the carriage floor it was gathered up by a safe pair of hands.

He was glad to be home. Padua was a solid redbrick Victorian villa with honeysuckle and clematis framing the steeply pitched porch. The cool, rose-scented, echoing space of the entrance hall welcomed the man inside from the relentless glare of the afternoon sun. He put down his bag, replaced his keys in the drawer of the hall table, and hung his panama on the hat stand. He was weary to the bone, but the quiet house soothed him. Quiet, but not silent. There was the steady tick of a long case clock and the distant hum of an ancient refrigerator, and somewhere in the garden a blackbird sang. But the house was untainted by the tinnitus of technology. There was no computer, no television, no DVD or CD player. The only connections to the outside world were an old Bakelite telephone in the hall and a radio. In the kitchen, he let the tap run until the water was icy cold and then filled a tumbler. It was too early for gin and lime, and too hot for tea. Laura had gone home for the day, but she had left a note and a ham salad in the refrigerator for his supper. Dear girl. He gulped the water down.

Back in the hall, he took a single key from his trouser pocket and unlocked a heavy oak door. He retrieved his bag from the floor and entered the room, closing the door softly behind him. Shelves and drawers, shelves and drawers, shelves and drawers. Three walls were completely obscured and every shelf was laden and every drawer was full with a sad salmagundi of forty years gathered in, labeled, and given a home. Lace panels dressed the French windows and diffused the brash light from the afternoon sun. A single shaft from the space between them pierced the gloom, glittering with specks of dust. The man took the Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin from his bag and placed it carefully on a large mahogany table, the only clear surface in the room. Lifting the lid, he inspected the contents, a pale gray substance the texture of coarse-grain sand. He had scattered the like many years ago in the rose garden at the back of the house. But surely these could not be human remains? Not left on a train in a biscuit tin? He replaced the lid. He had tried to hand them in at the station, but the ticket collector, cocksure that it was just litter, suggested that he put it in the nearest bin.

You’d be amazed at the rubbish people leave on trains, he said, dismissing Anthony with a shrug.

Nothing surprised Anthony anymore, but loss always moved him; however great or small. From a drawer he took a brown paper luggage label and a gold-nibbed fountain pen. He wrote carefully in black ink; first the date and time, and then the place—very specific.

HUNTLEY & PALMERS BISCUIT TIN CONTAINING CREMATION REMAINS?

Found, sixth carriage from the front, 14:42 train from London Bridge to Brighton. Deceased unknown. God bless and rest in peace.

He stroked the lid of the tin tenderly before finding a space on one of the shelves and gently sliding the tin into position.

The chime of the clock in the hall said time for gin and lime. He took ice cubes and lime juice from the refrigerator and carried them through to the garden room on a silver drinks tray with a green cocktail glass and a small dish of olives. He wasn’t hungry but he hoped they might awaken his appetite. He didn’t want to disappoint Laura by leaving her carefully prepared salad. He set the tray down and opened the window into the garden at the back of the house.

The gramophone player was a handsome wooden affair with a sweeping golden horn. He lifted the needle and placed it gently onto the licorice-colored disk. The voice of Al Bowlly floated up through the air and out into the garden to compete with the blackbird.

The very thought of you

It had been their song. He released his long, loose limbs into the comfort of a leather wingbacked chair. In his prime, his bulk had matched his height, and he had been an impressive figure, but old age had diminished the flesh, and now skin lay much closer to bones. His glass in one hand, he toasted the woman whose silver-framed photograph he held in the other.

Chin, chin, my darling girl!"

He took a sip from his drink and lovingly, longingly kissed the cold glass of the photograph before replacing it on the side table next to his chair. She was not a classic beauty; a young woman with wavy hair and large dark eyes that shone, even in an old black-and-white photograph. But she was wonderfully striking, with a presence that still reached out from all those years ago and captivated him. She had been dead for forty years, but she was still his life, and her death had given him his purpose. It had made Anthony Peardew the Keeper of Lost Things.

CHAPTER 2

Laura had been lost; hopelessly adrift. Kept afloat, but barely, by an unhappy combination of Prozac, pinot grigio, and pretending things weren’t happening. Things like Vince’s affair. Anthony Peardew and his house had saved her.

As she pulled up and parked outside the house, she calculated how long she had worked there—five, no; almost six—years. She had been sitting in her doctor’s waiting room anxiously flicking through the magazines when an advertisement in The Lady had caught her attention:

HOUSEKEEPER/PERSONAL ASSISTANT REQUIRED FOR GENTLEMAN WRITER.

Please apply in writing to Anthony Peardew—PO Box 27312.

She had entered the waiting room intending to plead for more drugs to make her unhappy existence more bearable, and left it determined to apply for a position which would, it turned out, transform her life.

As she turned her key in the lock and stepped through the front door, the peace of the house embraced her as it always did. She went through to the kitchen, filled the kettle, and set it on the hob. Anthony would be out on his morning walk. She hadn’t seen him at all yesterday. He had been to London to see his solicitor. Waiting for the kettle to boil, she leafed through the neat pile of paperwork he had left for her to deal with; a few bills to pay, some letters to answer on his behalf, and a request to make an appointment with his doctor. She felt a prickle of anxiety. She had tried not to see him fading over the past months, like a fine portrait left too long in harsh sunlight, losing clarity and color. When he had interviewed her all those years ago, he was a tall, muscular man with a full head of dark hair, tanzanite eyes, and a voice like James Mason. She had thought him much younger than his sixty-eight years. Laura had fallen in love with both Mr. Peardew and the house moments after stepping through the door. The love she felt for him was not the romantic kind, but more the love of a child for a favorite uncle. His gentle strength, tranquil manner, and immaculate urbanity were all qualities that she had learned, albeit a little late, to appreciate in a man. His presence always lifted her spirits and made her value her life in a way that she hadn’t for a very long time. He was a comforting constant like Radio 4, Big Ben, and Land of Hope and Glory. But always very slightly distant. There was a part of himself which he never revealed; a secret always kept. Laura was glad. Intimacy, both physical and emotional, had always been a disappointment to her. Mr. Peardew was the perfect employer who became Anthony, a dear friend. But one who never came too close.

As for Padua, it was the tray cloth that made Laura fall in love with the house. Anthony had made her tea at her interview. He had brought it into the garden room; teapot with cozy, milk jug, sugar bowl and tongs, cups and saucers, silver teaspoons, tea strainer and stand. All set out on a tray with a tray cloth. Pure white, lace-edged linen. The tray cloth was definitive. Padua was clearly a house where all these things, including the tray cloth, were part of everyday life; and Mr. Peardew was a man whose everyday life was exactly the kind that Laura longed for. When they were first married, Vince had teased her about her attempts to introduce such things into their own home. If he was ever forced to make his own tea, he abandoned the used tea bag on the draining board, no matter how many times Laura asked him to put it in the bin. He drank milk and fruit juice straight from the carton, ate with his elbows on the table, held his knife like a pen, and spoke with his mouth full. Each on its own was a small thing, like the many other small things he did and said that Laura tried to ignore, but nonetheless chafed her soul. Over the years, their accumulation in both number and frequency hardened Laura’s heart and stymied her gentle aspirations for even modest fragments of the life she had once sampled in the homes of her school friends. When Vince’s teasing eventually curdled into mocking, a tray cloth to him became an object worthy only of derision. And so did Laura.

The interview had taken place on the day of her thirty-fifth birthday and had been surprisingly brief. Mr. Peardew had asked her how she took her tea and then poured it. There had been precious few other questions from either party before he had offered Laura the job and she had accepted. It had been the perfect present, and the beginning of hope for Laura.

The whistle of the kettle pierced her reminiscence. Laura took her tea, along with a duster and some polish, through to the garden room. She hated cleaning at home, especially when she had shared a home with Vince. But here it was an act of love. When she had first arrived, the house and its contents were gently neglected. Not dirty or shabby, just vaguely overlooked. Many of the rooms were unused. Anthony spent most of his time in the garden room or his study, and never had any guests to stay in the extra bedrooms. Softly, gently, room by room, Laura had loved the house back into life. Except the study. She had never been in the study. Anthony had told her at the start that nobody went into the study except him, and when he wasn’t in there it was kept locked. She had never questioned it. But all the other rooms were kept clean and bright and ready for anyone to enjoy, even if no one ever came.

In the garden room, Laura picked up the silver-framed photograph and buffed the glass and silver until it shone. Anthony had told her that the woman’s name was Therese, and Laura knew that he must have loved her very much because hers was one of only three photographs on display throughout the whole house. The others were copies of a picture of Anthony and Therese together, one of which he kept on a small table next to his bed, and the other on the dressing table in the big bedroom at the back of the house. In all the years she had known him she had never seen him look as happy in life as he did in that photograph.

When Laura left Vince, the last thing she had done was to chuck the large framed photograph of their wedding into the bin. But not before she had stamped on it, grinding the smashed glass into his smirking face with her heel. Selina from Servicing was welcome to him. He was a complete and utter arsehole. It was the first time she had really admitted it, even to herself. It didn’t make her feel any better. It just made her sad that she had wasted so many years with him. But with an unfinished education, no real work experience, and no other means of supporting herself, there had been little choice.

When she had finished in the garden room, Laura went through to the hallway and started up the stairs, stroking a golden gleam from the curved wooden banister with her duster as she went. She had often wondered about the study; of course she had. But she respected Anthony’s privacy as he respected hers. Upstairs, the largest bedroom was also the handsomest and had a large bay window that overlooked the back garden. It was the room Anthony had once shared with Therese, but now he slept in the smaller room next door. Laura opened the window to let in some air. The roses in the garden below were in full bloom; undulating ruffles of scarlet, pink, and creamy petals, and the surrounding borders frothed with fluttering peonies punctuated with sapphire lances of larkspur. The scent of the roses floated upward on the warm air and Laura breathed deeply, taking in the heady perfume. But this room always smelled of roses. Even in midwinter when the garden was frozen and asleep, and the windows sealed with frost. Laura straightened and stroked the already perfect bedcovers and plumped the cushions on the ottoman. The green glass dressing table set sparkled in the sunlight, but was lovingly dusted nonetheless. But not everything in the room was perfect. The little blue enameled clock had stopped again; 11:55 and no ticking. Every day it stopped at the same time. Laura checked her watch and reset the hands on the clock. She carefully wound the small key until the soft ticking resumed, and then replaced the clock on the mantelpiece.

The sound of the front door closing signaled Anthony’s return from his walk. It was followed by the unlocking, opening, and closing of the study door. It was a sequence of sounds with which Laura was very familiar. In the kitchen she made a pot of coffee that she set out on a tray with a cup and saucer, a silver jug of cream, and a plate of digestive biscuits. She took it through to the hall and knocked gently on the study door, and when it was opened passed the tray to Anthony. He looked tired; etiolated rather than invigorated by his walk.

Thank you, my dear.

She noticed unhappily that his hands shook slightly as he took the tray from hers.

Is there anything in particular that you’d like for lunch? she asked coaxingly.

No, no. I’m sure whatever you decide will be delicious.

The door closed. Back in the kitchen, Laura washed up the dirty mug that had appeared in the sink, left, no doubt, by Freddy, the gardener. He had started working at Padua a couple of years ago, but their paths rarely crossed, which was disappointing for Laura, as she had the feeling that she might like to get to know him better. He was tall and dark, but not so handsome as to be a cliché. He had a faint scar which ran vertically between his nose and top lip, and puckered his mouth a little on one side, but somehow its effect was to add rather than detract, giving his smile a particular lopsided charm. He was affable enough when they did bump into one another, but no more so than politeness demanded, giving Laura little encouragement to pursue his friendship.

Laura started on the pile of paperwork. She would take the letters home with her and type them on her laptop. When she had first worked for Anthony, she used to proofread his manuscripts and type them on an old electric typewriter, but he had stopped writing several years ago now, and she missed it. When she was younger, she had thought about writing as a career; novels or maybe journalism. She had had all sorts of plans. She was a clever girl with a scholarship to the local girls’ school followed by a place at university. She could have—should have—made a proper life for herself. But instead she met Vince. At seventeen she was still vulnerable, unformed; unsure of her own worth. She was happy at school, but the scholarship meant that she was always slightly displaced. Her factory-worker father and shop-assistant mother were so proud of their clever daughter. Money was found—scraped together—for every item of her expensive school uniform to be bought; unheard of unnecessaries like indoor and outdoor shoes. Everything had to be new. Nothing secondhand for their girl, and she was grateful, truly she was. She knew only too well the sacrifices that her parents had made. But it wasn’t enough. Being bright and beautifully presented was never quite enough for her to slip seamlessly into the society of those who formed the rank and file of the school’s assembly. Girls for whom holidays abroad, trips to the theater, supper parties, and sailing weekends were commonplace. Of course she made friends, girls who were kind and generous, and she accepted their invitations to stay at grand houses with their kind and generous parents. Grand houses where tea was served in pots, toast in racks, butter in dishes, milk in jugs, and jam with a silver spoon. Houses with names instead of numbers that had terraces, tennis courts, and topiary. And tray cloths. She saw a different kind of life and was enchanted. Her hopes were raised. At home, the milk in a bottle, the marge in a tub, the sugar in a bag, and the tea in a mug were all stones in her pockets, weighing her down. At seventeen she had fallen into the space between the two worlds and there was nowhere left she truly belonged. And then she met Vince.

He was older; handsome, cocksure, and ambitious. She was flattered by his attentions and impressed by his certainty. Vince was certain about everything. He even had a nickname for himself; Vince the Invincible. He was a car dealer and drove a red Jaguar E-Type; a cliché on wheels. Laura’s parents were quietly distraught. They had hoped that her education would be the key to a better life for her; better than theirs. A life with more living and less struggling. They may not have understood about tray cloths, but they knew that the kind of life they wished for Laura was about more than just money. For Laura, it was never about the money. For Vince the Invincible, it was only ever about money and status. Laura’s father soon had his own private nickname for Vince Darby. VD.

Unhappy years later, Laura often wondered what it was that Vince had seen in her. She was a pretty girl, but not beautiful, and certainly not the teeth, tits, and arse combination he usually favored. The kind of girls Vince normally dated dropped their knickers as naturally as they dropped their aitches. Perhaps he had seen her as a challenge. Or a novelty. Whatever it was, it was enough for him to think that she would make him a good wife. Eventually, she came to suspect that his marriage proposal was driven as much by his desire for status as it was by physical desire. Vince had plenty of money, but alone it wasn’t enough to get him into the Freemasons or elected chair of the golf club. With her beautiful manners and private school education, Laura was intended to bring a sheen of social sophistication to his brass. He was to be bitterly disappointed. But not as much as Laura.

When she first found out about Vince’s affair, it had been easy to blame him for everything; to cast him as some Austenesque cad about town with Laura as the virtuous heroine left at home to knit spare toilet-roll covers or sew ribbons on her bonnet. But somewhere deep down Laura knew that that was really fiction. Desperate for refuge from an unsatisfactory reality, she had asked her doctor for antidepressants, but he had insisted that she see a counselor before handing over the drugs. For Laura it was a means to an end. She fully expected to run rings round a mousy, middle-aged, polyester Pamela to procure her prescription. What she got was a sassy, sharp-suited blonde called Rudi who forced her to face some rather unpalatable facts. She told Laura to listen to the voice inside her head; the one that pointed out inconvenient truths and raised uncomfortable arguments. Rudi called it engaging with her internal linguistics and said that it would be a very gratifying experience for Laura. Laura called it consorting with the Truth Fairy and found it as gratifying as listening to her favorite record with a deep scratch in it. The Truth Fairy had a very suspicious nature. She accused Laura of buckling under the weight of parental expectations, of marrying Vince in part to avoid going to university. In her opinion, Laura was afraid of going to university in case she failed; afraid to stand on her own two feet in case she fell flat on her face. She also raised the unhappy memory of Laura’s miscarriage and subsequent, almost obsessive, and ultimately unsuccessful quest for a baby. In truth, the Truth Fairy unsettled Laura. But when she got her Prozac she had stopped listening.

The clock in the hallway struck one and Laura began gathering ingredients for lunch. She beat eggs and cheese together with fresh herbs from the garden, tipped the mixture into a hot pan on the stove, and watched it froth and bubble and then settle into a fluffy, golden omelet. The tray was set with a crisp, white linen napkin, a silver knife and fork, and a glass of elderflower cordial. At the door of the study, she swapped it with Anthony for the remains of his morning coffee. The biscuits were untouched.

CHAPTER 3

Eunice

FORTY YEARS EARLIER . . . MAY 1974

She had decided on the cobalt-blue trilby. Her grandmother had once told her that one could blame ugliness on one’s genes and ignorance on one’s education, but there was absolutely no excuse whatsoever for being dull. School had been dull. Eunice had been a clever girl, but restless; too bored in lessons to do well. She wanted excitement; a life less lifeless. The office where she worked was dull, full of dull people, and so too was her job; endless typing and filing. Respectable, her parents called it, but that was just another word for dull. Her only escape was in films and books. She read as though her life depended on it.

Eunice had seen the advertisement in The Lady:

Assistant required for established publisher. Wages woeful but work never dull!

The job was obviously meant for her and she applied the same day.

Her interview was at 12:15 P.M., and she had allowed herself plenty of time to get there, so now she could walk the remainder of the way at her leisure, gathering in the sights and sounds of the city to furnish future memories. The streets were crowded and Eunice drifted through the homogeneous flow of humanity, occasionally struck by a figure who, for some reason, bobbed above the surface of the indeterminate tide. She nodded at the whistling waiter sweeping the pavement outside

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  • Quite the charming, whimsical, and overall lighthearted read that I thoroughly enjoyed. There are indeed parts of this story that struck me as particularly sad, and I may have shed a tear or two throughout the process of digesting this tale, but overall I would say that the content is far from heartbreaking. I am rather happy with reading a happy story, as there are so many books around these days that try to twist your emotions this way and that, sometimes my elderly heart cannot take it! Ruth Hogan seems to be writing a lot of this from personal experience, either that or her research was top notch, because her portrayal of a character who loves to horde objects is deeply personal and realistic. She also covers the topics of loss and longing exquisitely, even though they can be rather difficult concepts to accurately portray in writing.

    Scribd Editors
  • The Keeper of Lost Things was far off the mark of the books that I most commonly find myself reading. This book had a large ensemble of characters that the author does a dashing job of keeping in order, but I think the fact that I was reading this book before bed every night made it a bit hard to remember all of the different plot lines and concepts; I fell asleep more than once with my iPad on my face and the book still open the next morning, haha. Although it was rather different than the books I most often frequent, I found myself enjoying the writing style and overall tone of the book more than anything else. It felt...warm, it felt friendly, it felt like a long hug or coming in out of the rain and taking your boots off by the fire. This book feels pleasant to read, is what I am trying to say.

    Scribd Editors

Avis des lecteurs

  • (4/5)
    What a gentle, whimsical debut this book was. I adored the front cover and from the start I was drawn in. I loved the short stories Anthony penned about the lost objects he found, and I often found myself smiling at them. His attention to detail and the care he took to label and catalogue each item was touching, considering how inconsequential most of them were.I also enjoyed the two parallel stories with their charming range of quirky characters that were woven throughout the novel. Although I found Laura, Freddy and Sunshine's story more interesting, Bomber and Eunice's tale was still touching and I liked how the author brought the two stories together at the end.Sunshine, especially, was a wonderful character with her quiet wisdom and I loved how she called herself a dancing drome when she mean she had Down's Syndrome. Even her intuition about the owners of the lost things wasn't too bad and it did give a sweet element to the story.Then there were the dogs - Carrot, Douglas and Baby Jane - who brought humour and touching canine devotion to "The Keeper of Lost Things" and all three played an integral role. Actually, the only part of the story I didn't like was the ghostly element which played quite an important part, especially in the second-half of the book."The Keeper of Lost Things" was beautifully written with a little bit of everything - romance, mystery, magic, loss, hope and redemption. A sweet, feel-good read.
  • (3/5)
    My rating: 3.75

    This is a difficult one for me as I liked this a lot but didn't love it which was a bit of a disappointment. I loved the premise but found the characters a bit 'twee.' I preferred the second half of the book, in the first half my mind wondered off a bit. Nevertheless, it is well-written, funny and sad in bits too. Maybe just not quite my cup of tea!
  • (3/5)
    Anthony's story and Laura'a story were both intriguing, but Bomber's story didn't do much for me. I liked the ending. Worth a quick read, but not memorable.
  • (4/5)
    Nice cover. Good story. I like finding lost things, but never thought to write stories about them, true or not.
  • (4/5)
    A pleasant little book; I suppose I’d call it a mild paranormal romance, with both the paranormal and romance parts understated. The protagonist is a recently divorced lady acting as a housekeeper for an eccentric London author collects and meticulously catalogs random objects he finds on his walks – the “Lost Things” of the title; there’s a parallel story of a publisher’s secretary; one of the fun things is how the two tales eventually merge. A little predictable but still fun. Can’t say too much more lest spoilers.
  • (4/5)
    A quirky, mostly gentle novel about a woman who needs to find her way again who is left a house and a collection of "lost things" (mostly small found objects like gloves and buttons) by her employer. He wanted her to return them to their owners. The story is peopled with the house's gardener (the love interest), a teenager from next door (a new friend), and a ghost (maybe?), and interspersed among the main narrative are the stories of many of the lost things. Pulled me along and was a pleasant diversion, but little of it has stuck with me.
  • (5/5)
    Not perfect in writing or construction, but really beautifully done. A story where the keeping of lost things compensates for loss, as the main character (a writer) collects things he's found. The writing simply ties together the people with the objects and their stories, without being overbearing, by focusing on Laura, a housekeeper who is left a house by her employer. Exceptional for a debut novel, with good characters and subplots that all tie together without fuss.
  • (2/5)
    This has the strap-line “feel-good book of the year”. So I decidedly feel I am missing out on something. This was a mash of simplistic short stories, with a vague link of there being some lost object in each. A lonely housekeeper is left her employer’s home. She fancies the gardener, they go on a date, and immediately act towards one another like a sedate old married couple, sharing their life with a downs-syndrome young psychic woman & a stray dog. A gay publisher develops Alzheimer’s & his P.A. loses his ashes, and on and on... Twee beyond belief. I just didn’t see the charm.
  • (4/5)
    This book was gripping, more like a persistent pull, rather than a page turner that conflicts with your life. The central characters are all real and lovable. Laura’s journey leaves one a little sad but with hope. Sunshine is a delight. She sometimes acts as a conscience. The descriptions of the house Padua created the quiet but cozy feel that gives the book its charm.The Eunice and Bomber story is also great. I found it easy to love both characters. I loved the quiet devotion. I loved the donuts and dogs. I loved having the three dogs. They created a bit of light humor when the rest of the story was playing its sad undertones.There was one reveal with Anthony Peardew’s stories which was a bit over the top. This is book I plan to reread. I highly recommend this book.
  • (4/5)
    It is a strange beginning, with a tin containing someone’s remains being left on a train. I had largely forgotten this incident until the end of the book, it wasn’t something that drove my curiosity, as Anthony collected so many strange things I just thought it was something else. Anthony is the keeper of lost things referred to in the title and since the death of his wife, it appears to have consumed his life. We only really learn his motivation at the end of the novel. He has lost something that needs to be returned and in helping others, he hopes to find what he is looking for.Laura joins Anthony as his assistant after her husband leaves her and she needs to rebuild her confidence and find a job. When Anthony dies he leaves the house and his meticulously cataloged collection to her, on the understanding that she will endeavor to unite the owners with their lost property. After the funeral, Laura gains a new friend in Sunshine, a young woman with down syndrome who lives across the road. She is charming, thoughtful and loyal, with an element of psychic perception when it comes to the items which are lost. It is she that suggests Therese is unhappy and angry following Anthony’s death. Like Forrest Gump, there is a wonderful straightforward innocence about her which makes her both charming and endearing as a character.Freddie is the gardener who stays to look after the rose garden, again planted for Therese before Anthony died. Laura finds it difficult to accept anyone would like her after her husband left and initially tries to drive Freddie away. He helps her with the lost property website and eventually earns her trust.Eunice and Bomber form the second, parallel part of the story. Eunice applied for the job with the established publisher after becoming bored with her previous occupation. Despite the age difference, she spends over 30 years in his employ until his death. They form an abiding love and affection based on books and films. They laugh over Bomber’s sister Portia and her attempt to re-write Lady Chatterley’s Lover and then Jane Eyre. The funniest combination was the mixing of Harry Potter and 50 Shades which becomes a notorious bestseller, making her lavishly successful. When Bomber succumbs to Alzheimer’s it is to Eunice and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest that he turns. Under Portia’s direction, the funeral is an unintentional farce.The ending sees everyone’s lost property returned to them and Therese’s ghost finally finding the peace which she has sought. Despite finding the antic’s of Therese’s ghost bizarre, I thought the characters were all warm and interesting. I particularly liked Sunshine and was glad that disability was shown in such a positive light. Having a disability doesn’t mean that you can’t make a positive and enriching contribution to other people’s lives.
  • (5/5)
    A pleasantly tangled tale of different lives that may or may not be real, Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things invites readers to look through different eyes, at different lives and tragedies, and at the things we leave behind. Is a tiny ruby the reject from a broken engagement? Is the man watching movies related to the woman who dies outside a cake shop? And will the cleaning lady rise to meet the better life she deserves?The story’s told in an enthralling blend of different times and place, viewpoints and realities, making it truly difficult to put down. It might be moderately confusing at times, but it’s a satisfying sort of confusion, begging the reader to think and rethink answers and ideas. And it all holds together beautifully, jigsaw pieces falling into place or lying honorably discarded.The characters each have hidden depths, pleasantly and gently revealed with no artificial dives into backstory or motivation. Hidden connections are equally smooth and believable. And the whole is an absorbing story that leaves you delighted to have met these people, and maybe even a little changed, a little more open to meeting the strangers who enter our own lives.Disclosure: I borrowed a copy and now I want to buy my own to keep on my shelf!
  • (4/5)
    In Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan, the author explores the idea of reuniting people with the objects they have lost in the past. The story is built around an aging author, Anthony Peardew, who, forty years ago, lost an important keepsake on the same day that his beloved fiancé was killed in an accident. Since that day, Anthony becomes a ‘keeper of things’, as he collects found objects with the intention of returning them someday to their owners. When Anthony passes away, he entrusts the task to his faithful assistant, Laura, who has just completed an upsetting divorce. Laura pursues in this daunting task with the help of a new neighbor friend, Sunshine, who is a teenager with downs syndrome, and a handsome gardener named Fred. As Laura carries out Anthony’s will, she discovers an extraordinary friendship and love. This novel is also a dual story about Bomber, a book publisher, and his best friend and confidante, Eunice. Written as separate stories through most of the novel, it is only at the novel’s conclusion that the two stories merge to find a satisfying resolution. Within the novel, the story would often divert into other short anecdotes about how some of the lost things came to be misplaced. It is in these multi-page diversions where I frequently became distracted from the original story and felt that the story lost ground. For this reason, I am giving the book three stars, instead of four, although the writing is superior.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. It was beautifully written (laughter, tears, suspense) and intriguing stories that interlinked with each other in all the right places. Looking forward to future books by Ruth Hogan. Book three of Blind Date with a Book Club.
  • (4/5)
    A special thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

    Forty years ago, author Anthony Peardew loses a keepsake from his fiancee, Therese, and on that very same day she dies. As a result, Anthony becomes the keeper of lost things. He picks up objects he finds, random things people leave behind, or have dropped, and writes stories about them. As he nears the end of his life, Anthony continues to catalogue the items and worries that he has not lived up to his undertaking of reuniting the items with their owners.

    Laura, Anthony's assistant, is a divorced middle-aged lonely woman that unbeknownst to her is one of Anthony's lost things. He bequeaths everything to her, including the daunting task of his life's mission of reconciling the lost items to where they belong. She moves into the house and with the help of the gardener Freddy, and the neighbour's daughter Sunshine, embarks on a remarkable journey of self-discovery, new beginnings, and of completing a final request.

    The characters are rich and warm and are all lost objects in one way or another. Hogan weaves them together in a wonderful tale. I absolutely adored this book and felt like I had lost a friend when it was over.
  • (4/5)
    Beautiful story with an intricately woven cast of characters.
  • (4/5)
    When I lose something and cannot find it no matter how long I look, when I finally give up on it and consign it to memory only, it has always comforted me a little to think that the Borrowers, from Mary Norton's classic children's tale, have found it and are using it lovingly. But what if there was a person out there who collected and catalogued lost items with the aim of one day reuniting them with their owners and that person had my own lost object in his or her safe keeping? It would be comforting to think that my things were still out there, found and cared for, their stories preserved, until the time came for me to find them again. In a sense, that's the lovely premise of Ruth Hogan's novel, The Keeper of Lost Things. From a hair bobble to a single glove, a puzzle piece to a small, painted wooden house, these things and more are found and carefully kept, awaiting the day they can be returned to their rightful owners.Anthony Peardew is an older man, once a celebrated author, who has lived alone for forty years in a magical sort of house, having lost Therese, the love of his life shortly before their wedding. After Therese's death he realized he'd lost the small communion medallion she gave him to always keep them connected and although he didn't find the small and meaningful charm, it inspired him to collect and safeguard other people's lost treasures. In his twilight years, he hires Laura, damaged and adrift after her divorce, to be his housekeeper and personal assistant, warning her to never go into his locked study. Never tempted to defy this order, she works contentedly for him for a handful of years. After his death, she is surprised to discover that he's left the house and all of his possessions to her. His major request accompanying this bequest is that she now go into the study, behold the immense, carefully catalogued collection of lost items he's found over the years and attempt to return them to their owners because if even one item's return will ease a broken heart, it will all have been worth it. As Laura slowly ventures out of her self-imposed isolation and befriends first Sunshine, a young woman in the neighborhood with Down's Syndrome and a special sensitivity to the things and vibrations around us that others never feel, and then Freddy, Anthony's gardener, she has to figure out how best to find the lovingly kept items' original owners, how to placate the ghost of Therese, who still haunts the house, and how to open her own heart to all the possibilities of living life to the fullest. In a parallel narrative, a young woman named Eunice applies for a job at a small publisher and promptly falls for her handsome boss, Bomber, becoming his best friend and confidante but never anything more. She devotes her life to loving Bomber knowing that he loves her back only Platonically.The vast majority of the story is focused on Anthony, the past that led him to be the keeper of lost things, and then on Laura, who is herself very clearly one of Anthony's lost things. Each of the inanimate items highlighted in the book is given its own short story, but whether it is one written by Anthony or one contained in the item itself is left to the reader to decide. In order to cut some of the sweetness of the premise of the novel as a whole, these object stories veer from heartwarming to serious to desperately sad. There is a fair bit of humor woven into the novel to leaven it too. My favorite being after Laura hears neighborhood gossips in a local pub speculating on why Anthony left her the house. As she walks past their table leaving the pub, she informs them it was because of "Fellatio on Fridays." The fact that one of these nasty Nellys doesn't even know what this means makes it that much more entertaining. There are only very light touches (and a few hidden clues) almost connecting the story of Anthony with the story of Eunice and Bomber for the majority of the story and although they come together well in the end, a little more explicitness might not have been amiss so that the reader wasn't confused as to why these very different tales were together from the start. Both are thematically similar though, focused as they are on caring for and supporting those around you, accepting them for who they are and the struggles they face, and loving people, dogs, and the important bits and bobs of their life to the very end. Although there is a wistful sort of quality to the novel, it would be a perfect novel for those who are looking for a book to counter the dysfunction and unhappiness of so much of current literature. In the end, it is that elusive book that leaves a warm glow in its wake without resorting to sappiness or cliche. Very much a novel of love and loss, compassion and redemption, this is a gentle, charming, and thoroughly worthwhile read.
  • (5/5)
    I am a collector of 'things' - old things, interesting things and yes, things I find. I always wonder about the person who owned them, lost them or discarded them. I knew I was going to love Ruth Hogan's debut novel, The Keeper of Lost Things.Anthony Peardew also collects things - ever since the day his fiancee died and he lost the one thing that he promised her he would always cherish. His goal is the find the owners of those lost articles. But, his time is drawing near and he decides to bequeath his house and the lost things project to his assistant Laura. A parallel story with its own lost and found had me wondering if the two tales would eventually meet - and how they might tie together."She had been dead for forty years, but she was still his life, and her death had given him his purpose. It had made Anthony Peardew the Keeper of Lost Things."Oh there is so much to love about this book. The characters first and foremost. They're all eclectically (and wonderfully) a little left of center. Impossible not to like and not to root for.The premise is intriguing as I've mentioned. I loved the back stories that Hogan created for some of the lost items. Hair bobbles, an umbrella, a glove and more. Some happy, some tragic. The plots of some disastrous books written by an aspiring author had me laughing out loud.Hogan's writing flows so well and drew me into her story immediately. She weaves a delicious, heartwarming tale of love, loss, hope, redemption, romance and humour with a helping of magical realism that absolutely delighted me. I loved it!
  • (4/5)
    Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. When he finds something on his walk - a button, a glove, an earring - he takes it home to his study and writes a note on where he found the item in hopes that he can somehow, someday connect the item with its owner. He is also a famous author who has written stories based on the items that he's found. He is getting old and feeble and decides to turn his house and his quest for the owners of lost things to Laura when he dies. Laura, Sunshine (the girl across the street who has down's syndrome) and Freddy, the gardener, work together to give the lost things back to their owner and to lay the ghost in the house to rest. The novel tells two main stories - that of Anthony, Laura, Sunshine and Freddy and an earlier story about Bomber and Eunice. The reader gets clues along the way but doesn't know if the two groups of people are connected and how they are connected.This is an interesting debut novel by an author that I expect to see great books from in the future.
  • (2/5)
    This really wasn't for me, which is a pity, because I liked the sound of it from the description on the back of the book. There was just too much going on: Laura and Anthony, Bomber and Eunice, the stories to go with the lost items. The disparate strands meant that there was no coherent linear plot, and I kept putting the book down and feeling nothing was calling me to go on with it. It did take a long time to get going in any case. Sunshine had her moments, but was very inconsistently portrayed, and I'm not a fan of even benign paranormal elements.
  • (3/5)
    Anthony has long collected 'lost' things, carefully labelled with where and when they were found. Laura becomes his assistant, but doesn't discover the lost things until after his death. It becomes her responsibility to try to reunite them with their owner - ably assisted by Sunshine and Freddy.Interwoven with this, rather confusingly and tenuously, is the story of Eunice and Bomber.This is an OK story, but with a strange premise, and even stranger development of the story and an obvious ending.
  • (5/5)
    This book starts with a very intriguing first line and never lets up on quirky elements all the way to the end. Anthony Peardew is an author of short stories but he also is a collector of lost things, labelling each and every item that he finds. Laura is his assistant/housekeeper, a woman who is damaged by her past but who finds solace in her employer and friend. When Anthony realises that he must find somebody to pass his collection onto he chooses Laura, somebody who he can trust to carry on his work.Ruth Hogan has a wonderfully descriptive style of writing and this is a charming book. It started quite slowly but crept up on me and drew me in, engulfing me in the story. I really cared about the characters: Laura and Freddy, Anthony's gardener; Sunshine, who is 'dancing drome' (say it out loud); and Eunice and Bomber, whose link to the story becomes clear as the book progresses.This is the sort of book I love. It has a mystery at its heart but it features ordinary people in an unusual situation. I enjoyed all the little details, about the lost items and Anthony's house, Padua. It almost has an old-fashioned and nostalgic feel and I could easily have believed it was set in another era, but for the obvious references to the modern day.I think this book will do really well as it's just so appealing and evocative.
  • (5/5)
    Very satisfying and a good choice for those who liked The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.I received an advance copy at the ALA Midwinter conference.
  • (4/5)
    What a charming book! I don't want to give away the story by telling too much of the plot, but the story centers around helping people find the things they've lost, and finding out the people's stories in the process. There's a bit of a metaphysical element that adds to the charm, as well. I enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    If you loved The Curious Charm of Arthur Pepper, if you believe in fate and synchronicity, if you need a great read about the good that exists in the world and the possibility of hope, then you must read The Keeper of Lost Things. It is a feel good story with a lot to say if you listen carefully. I loved it.
  • (5/5)
    Loved this novel. Laura is left with the task of finding the original owners of small lost things that her employer has found on the streets. The search for the truth of behind the things leads her to find the truth in her own life. A gentle love story.
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed this book, it's numerous stories and grew to like the characters immensely. Eunice, in particular, has got into my head, and I'm writing this review with an English accent (I'm Australian). It feels like such a long time since I've read something (actually I listened to it) that I haven't been able to put down - there was so much to discover. Most of the characters were thoroughly decent (which is refreshing) and Sunshine, in particular, was gorgeous. I loved the stories within the stories, they provided a check on the sweetness.
  • (4/5)
    I won this ARC in a GOODREADS giveaway - Unexpectedly sweet and funny - This was a pleasure to read. Thanks to William Morrow for the opportunity to receive this unique version of the book!
  • (5/5)
    Reading this book was a trip back in time about old cherished objects
  • (5/5)
    A very human read: love, loss, laughter, joy, grief, mystery, anger, forgiveness...everything.
  • (5/5)
    Characters, about whom I quickly grew to care, only one vile woman in the lot, set about the task of freeing the curator of “Lost and Found Things” of his guilt. Sunshine’s sixth sense provides feelings and details of each lost item which in combination with stories written by the “Finder” enable the team to return items to former owners. Three couples’ lives were closely woven in this jigsaw story enlivened by the Golden thread of Sunshine’s character, a young woman with Downes syndrome, whose sensitivity, wisdom and friendship are critical is setting all things right.
    Scribd allowed listening along with the text in view; both formats were available, lovely.