Friday, December 8, 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan

Summary:  Anthony Peardew is the Keeper of Lost Things.  Once a celebrated author of short stories, now in his twilight years, Anthony has sought consolation from the long-ago loss of his fiancee by lovingly rescuing lost objects -- the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidentally left behind.  Realizing that he's running out of time, he leaves his beautiful house and all the collected treasures to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, the one person he trusts to fulfill his legacy and reunite his lost objects with their rightful owners.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura is in some ways one of Anthony's lost things.  But when she moves into his lovely old Victorian mansion, her life suddenly begins to change.  Anthony's final wishes set in motion a most serendipitous series of encounters as Laura sets out to realize Anthony's last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes a teenage girl with special powers, a handsome gardener, a fussy ghost, and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a heartwarming read about second chances, endless possibilities and joyful discoveries.  (Summary from book flap - Image from goodreads.com)

My Review:  I'd like to start this review with a disclaimer.  My thoughts on this book might be spectacularly unfair.   I just want to be upfront about it as Ruth Hogan deserves a fair shake.  I may review books in my spare time, but I'm by no means a professional and sometimes my life influences my reading experiences in detrimental ways.  If you want to take this review with a grain of salt or two, I won't be offended.

The Keeper of Lost Things has all the makings of a brilliant book -- a talented author, an interesting premise, and a unique cast of characters -- and yet I spent most of the time reading it in a state of moderate confusion.  I don't know whether to attribute my experience to some indefinable flaw in the book or to an even more unfortunate case of, well...mom brain.   It wouldn't be the first time that I've encountered the former, but given that I am a sleep deprived stay-at-home mother of four, there is also a high probability of the latter.  It could go either way.

 At least some of my confusion stems from hopscotching my way through the two main, seemingly unrelated, story lines.  The first contains Anthony, the lonely keeper of lost things; Laura, his unwitting apprentice/struggling divorcee; Freddy, the gardener hiding from his girlfriend; and Sunshine, the delightful "dancing drome" neighbor girl with a knack for the supernatural.  Oh, and let's not forget a troublesome ghost.  Thankfully, I was able to follow this portion of the story quite easily and enjoyed the time I spent with those characters.

The second story line takes place in a smattering of chapters spread over forty years.  It involves a woman named Eunice, who is desperately in love with her best friend (and boss), a dog-lover named Bomber, and the occasional appearance of his truly dreadful sister Portia.  This is where I ran into problems.  I spent a good majority of my time trying to place their story safely within the context of the other story and failing miserably.  Was I missing some infinitesimal connection? I kept flipping back to previous chapters, trying to pick up the crucial detail I had missed, and it was maddening!  I can't help but think that if someone had just handed me the book with this tiny bit of advice... "Yes, they connect....eventually.  Try not to overthink it, you dope."  that I might have been able to relax and enjoy myself a little more thoroughly.

In my opinion, the best aspect of this book was the artfully constructed vignettes attached to many of the misplaced treasures.  They were deftly woven, delightful little windows of possibility and I savored each one. When all was said and done, things came together quite nicely, and I closed the book wondering if I shouldn't read it again from a less befuddled perspective. 

My advice to you is this: Give it a try.  Everything connects eventually.  Try not to overthink it, you dope.

My Rating:  3 Stars.

For the sensitive reader.  Some moments of extreme profanity and some discussion of sexual matters.

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