The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
P.S. paperback review copy; 284 pages
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is a highly recommended debut novel that follows the lives of two British
assistants and explores connections between people.
Peardew is an elderly writer and the keeper of lost things. He hired
Laura, an unhappy
35-year-old divorcée, as an assistant, several years earlier and they
have a compatible, understanding working relationship. Peardew lost the
love of his life, Therese forty years ago, on the same day he lost a
keepsake she had given him. Since that time he has been quietly
collecting and cataloguing any lost things he finds, storing them in his
study in Padua, the Victorian villa where he lives and works. He also
writes stories about these lost items.
In 1970 Eunice finds a job as a publisher's assistant for the charming
Bomber. This also marked the start of their life-long friendship. Bomber
owns a small publishing
house where he only publishes books that he likes, while also studiously
avoiding any of the manuscripts sent to him by his sister,
Portia, whose work features blatantly plagiarized plots.
When Anthony Peardew dies, he leaves his estate and Padua to Laura. He
also instructs her to try and find the owners of the lost things he has
so carefully collected. With help from Freddy the gardener, and
Sunshine, the young woman with Down syndrome who lives across the
street, Laura sets out to follow Anthony's wishes. When the ghost of
Therese begins to act up, she knows that she is missing some vital clue.
With alternating chapters, the novel follows the stories of Laura and
Eunice. Interspersed among the chapters are some of the short stories
that Anthony wrote about the lost things he found. There are parts of
this novel that are charming, delightful, and clever. And there are
parts that stretch credulity and belief.
The quality of the writing in this debut novel is really quite good. It
is humorous, touching, emotional, and clever. The descriptions are
wonderful. The two plots/timelines are both equally interesting. The
short stories written about the items are compelling and become a part
of the whole story. The Keeper of Lost Things truly is a charming
story, slow to start but then it quickly picks up and is an enjoyable
novel, with some romance and a pleasant plot. There is a lot of tea made
The characters are well developed, including the minor characters and
the dogs. Freddie is an obvious romantic interest and Sunshine is a
compatible, amicable sidekick. Portia is suitably reprehensible. The
dogs are all quite brilliant characters who add a special charm to the
novel. Of the two, I was actually more interested in and intrigued by
Bomber and Eunice's story. I liked them both and was sad to say goodbye
to them. My credulity was stretched with the ghost, Laura's romance with
Freddy, and Sunshine's psychic ability.
This is an agreeable, light novel that is easy to follow and as cozy as a
cup of hot tea on a winter's day. The caliber of the writing elevates
it above an average rating for me, but personally I would have enjoyed
more Eunice and Bomber.
Disclosure: I received an advanced reading copy of this
book from HarperCollins for TLC Book Tours.