The Keeper Of Lost Things:A Novel by Ruth Hogan

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“A hush is a dangerous thing. Silence is solid and dependable, but a hush is expectant, like a pregnant pause it invites mischief like a loose thread begging to be pulled.”

From the cover of this novel I thought it was going to be ‘literary lemonade’, much of what the fictional character within Anthony Peardew’s publisher felt readers preferred. Sweet, nice stories that warm the heart and instead this novel was more than just a collection of objects, it’s stony little stories.  Why did one man feel it was so important to collect lost objects, ones he created stories for? Losing a keepsake his fiancé Therese gave him on the same say she died sets off a lifetime of rescuing lost objects. He knows his end is near, and longs to reunite strangers with the lost items, from a glove to a child’s umbrella. All the things are neatly categorized with tender care, these may have meant something, as much as his keepsakes loss weighed heavy on his heart. He passes away before he can realize his dream, and leaves his unsuspecting assistant Laura with the duty. Laura is recently divorced, completely discarded from her own life and while moving into a mansion seems like a dream, having to accept this ‘quest’ seems like a fool’s errand. She can barely manage to find herself anymore. “Laura was throwing away her old life. It was going to be messy business.” 

A spirit is harassing her in the home, and she hides from the sweet neighbor Sunshine, which the attractive gardener Freddy shames her for. It’s hopeless for her to keep hiding, people are pushing their way in, opening her up to life. Why is this spirit not at rest? She is doing all she can to meet the last request of Anthony, and just who is the spirit? Surely it’s not him and if it’s his fiance, it’s deeply sad that the two didn’t reunite in death.

All the characters in this novel are charming, Sunshine was my favorite, I would read an entire novel dedicated to her. The romance isn’t that hot, I wonder if a novel without Freddy may have worked better. Aw but readers love nothing more than fresh new love to cushion the fall of a broken heart. It wasn’t saccharine sweet, it had a little more bite than I expected and it came from Anthony’s stories. It’s funny that I read this while I am missing a big collection of cds, it was like salt on a wound. Lost objects always tickle my fancy, the strangest things just lying by the roadside as if they got up and ran away from their owners. The stories behind the lost objects could be a stand alone short story collection, their are wonderful. “To Gladys, Maud was a deathwatch beetle; an unwelcome parasite who had invaded her home and turned her happiness into dust.”  With lines like that, I wonder just how wonderful a meaty, darker story by Ruth Hogan would be.

Eunice and Bomber’s story keeps a faster pace, much more stimulating than anything between Freddy and Laura, and it ties together nicely with Anthony’s life. Nothing that happens is silly, the ghost haunting isn’t anything that is meant to terrorize. Usually I hate going back and forth in time but it works beautifully in this novel. I liked it, but I loved the stories about the objects most. Well done!

Available now

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