Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realizing 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 fulfill 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…
This is a delightful, beautiful read. The gentle undertone running through the book absolutely enthralled me and kept me turning pages.
The story opens up with Anthony Peardew, once a celebrated author of short stories, coming into possession of a biscuit tin containing what seems like cremation remains, and then the story reveals why Anthony has kept collecting lost things and been trying to reunite the items with their rightful owners.
The Anthony part grabbed my heart instantly – the gentle, quiet undertone of the writing beautifully and amazingly reflects his declining health and lets us know that his time is running out. His angst and regret for having failed to fulfill the promise he made with his loved one and his resignation just broke my heart. I was only 60 pages in the book, but I swore that I felt my heart constricted with grief. It was simply amazing how the author got me so invested in a character at such an early stage of the story.
The writing is stunningly beautiful. ‘Gentle,’ and ‘atmospheric,’ are the words that I would employ to describe the writing. It’s full of soft nuance, simply breathtaking.
The story features two parallel stories – one in the present with Laura inheriting the legacy as ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ that Anthony entrusted with her, and another featuring Eunice who builds a strong, abiding friendship (love on her part) with her boss Bomber. Interspersed by stories of the individual items that fell into Anthony’s lap, this Eunice part narrates their story starting in 1974 and then slowly inches toward the present. These two, what seem like irrelevant stories eventually come together in the end so perfectly, fitting the final piece of a puzzle and answering we readers’ questions.
At first, I wasn’t quite convinced with the necessity of Eunice and Bomber side of the story; it does clear my question why there is at the relatively early part of the book, and I could tell this Eunice part would play a significant role later in this book. But I felt it was a bit too lengthy to follow largely because the story in general moves so slowly. This applies to not only Eunice part, but Laura’s side of the story does develop rather slowly, both in terms of her progress as ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ and her personal relationship with a gardener, Freddy.
That said, this pacing didn’t come across boring nor drag, I could tell the author wove those two stories with utmost care – they are really detailed and meticulous. It sank in on me so naturally when the two stories finally intertwined. The way some of the items finding its way to their owners was really well-done, too. It felt like untangling some knotted threads, it cleared the misty fog that’d been sitting in my mind and filled me with a warm feeling.
One thing that I didn’t expect about this book was a fantastical aspect; I don’t want to be spoilery so I’ll refrain from going much into this, but the ghost thing and Sunshine’s uncanny ability of ‘feeling’ the voices of the items threw me off a little bit. This is the twist I wasn’t expecting from this book and I momentarily thought it was a bit unrealistic.
But then again, this magical, bit fantastical aspect gave the book a whimsical vibe and made it really an enjoyable read.
The underlining themes of this book, I assume, are redemption, ‘abiding love,’ and keeping promise.
Each character drags heavy luggage of the past for either breaking promises or failing to live up to expectations and they are struggling and striving to atone for what they had failed to fulfill.
Anthony’s struggles for atonement is particularly heartfelt. His angst for having failed to keep the promise and wish to get reunited with his loved one is simply heart-wrenching and this unfulfilled promise, which Anthony entrusts to Laura, is the core of the entire story and this is what makes the ending breathtakingly beautiful.
To be perfectly honest, the very ending was a bit anticlimactic for me and I wish the author spent a few more pages to wrap up the story, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.
This is such a delightful, beautiful, charming book. It’s perfect to curl up with along with a lovely, hot cup of tea.
I simply cannot believe this is Ruth Hogan’s debut novel. I cannot wait to read her next book.
I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.