Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 26/01/17

Publisher: Two Roads (John Murray Press)

ISBN: 978-1473635463

Format: Hardback, 309pp

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 5/5

Summed up in a few words
Mending. Discovery. Unity. Faith. Sentimentality.

First Impressions
I requested this book via Bookbridgr and after getting caught up in the usual constant book-blogging madness, I forgot all about it. Then it showed up on my doorstep and at first I was confused, then intrigued and after reading the first couple of pages... I was hooked. TKoLT is a gorgeous book, the premise is inviting and the writing is elegant, emotional and brilliant. So many stories all tightly weaved into a meaningful plot with a strong message. Two Roads only publish a handful of books every year and they are off to a cracking start.

Book Synopsis
Meet the 'Keeper of Lost Things'. Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half of his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners. But the final wishes of the 'Keeper of Lost Things' have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters.

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft one you've finished reading. (Official Synopsis)

My Thoughts
I was looking for a peaceful, inspiring and memorable read and that is exactly what I was rewarded with after finishing The Keeper of Lost Things. This is a story about broken promises, redemption and moving on from the past. Ruth Hogan is a natural story teller and her ability really shines in this novel. A well crafted plot that is centred around writing, and what stories mean to us, made this a success. I was constantly moved by both the characters and the meaningfulness behind their choices and actions. 

Anthony Peardew is a brilliant character, his life and presence builds the foundation for this book. RH draws the reader in with a potent and romantic backstory. Anthony broke a promise to his love all those years ago and has been collecting lost things ever since to hopefully return at least one item to its owner. His hope is to appease the spirit of his long lost love and make peace with her so they can join each other in the afterlife. Each item has a story which is shared with the reader during the course of the story and makes for great opportunities for additional depth and enjoyment. 

After his death Anthony leaves his life and mission in the trusted hands of Laura. Laura is lost too and her backstory is not a happy one. Trying to escape her past and the scars it left on her, she takes this journey on whole-heartedly. Armed with Sunshine and Freddy the gardener, she sets out to return the lost items and help put Anthony to rest.

There is a sub-plot that is weaved through the main arc, and this follows Eunice who has just got a job working in a publishing house. This is a great addition to the novel, with completely separate themes and messages that resonate with many different readers. The sub-plot is connected to the main plot in several small ways and I felt it really added another dimension to the overall feel of the book.

RH uses a lot of different tones, themes and personalities to make this book standout. Personally I have never read anything like this, it is a unique piece in my opinion as it doesn't feel connected to any books I have read in the genre. Much like The Watchmaker Of Filigree Street it has its own persona and feel. The Keeper of Lost Things is heart-warming but it is also upsetting and painful at times. I found myself shedding many tears over what these characters face, their conflicts and their trust in others. I was truly inspired.

The characters are well developed, believable and most importantly enjoyable. Many different shapes and shades of people, all united over one common goal. RH side stepped cliche and worked hard to create an emotional and relevant plot which works tremendously and it really lit up my day. I have been reading a lot of darker material recently and this just lifted me up, shook me a little and made me smile.

Pick Up The Keeper of Lost Things here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: (Ruth Hogan's Official Bio) I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford: my sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me. As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on: The Moomintrolls, A Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets and gravestones. I was mad about dogs and horses, but didn't like daddy-long-legs or sugar in my tea.

I studied English and Drama at Goldsmiths College which was brilliant, but then I came home and got a 'proper' job. I worked for ten years in a senior local government position (I was definitely a square peg in a round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage) before a car accident left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously. It was going well, but then in 2012 I got cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper of Lost Things.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner (who has very recently become my husband - so I can't be that bad!) I am a magpie, always collecting treasures, and a huge John Betjeman fan. My favourite word is 'antimacassar' and I still like reading gravestones.

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