My Latest Reads

This book was among my Christmas presents so I couldn’t wait to read it. I loved the whole idea of the story - how an elderly man, over the course of many years, had collected lost items, carefully labelling the date, time and place of each find. A glove, a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, a white umbrella decorated with red hearts - what was the story behind each “lost thing?” On his death he bequeathed his house and all his possessions to his young assistant, on the understanding that she would make it her business to return as much of the lost property as possible to its rightful owners. 


Having two separate but eventually intertwined casts of characters - Eunice and Bomber in the 70s, Anthony (the Keeper of the title) and Laura in the present - seemed a little contrived and potentially confusing. I found it difficult to like the character of Laura over much and the relationship between her and Anthony was nowhere near as poignant as that between the more likeable Eunice and Bomber. But the introduction to the story of innocent Sunshine with her startling understanding about the origin of the lost things was inspired and beautifully drawn. 


I think I would have liked to hear more of the stories behind the “lost things” - possibly this is what I expected from the book’s title so I’d set myself up for disappointment. It is author Ruth Hogan’s first book and the inclusion of some of the humorous scenes seemed a little out of place, as if she had been determined not to miss out any of her ideas, cramming them all into this one book. Then I heard that she wrote the book while having treatment for cancer which might well provide a very understandable explanation.


This is a light and entertaining read which (though this is only my opinion - it has enjoyed rave reviews from others) promised rather more than it delivered.

The hero of this book, the Alex Woods of the title, suffers brain damage at the age of ten when a meteorite bursts through the roof of the house he shares with his clairvoyant single mother. I mean, could there really be a more unlikely back story than that? 


Author Gavin Extence’s first novel is reminiscent in some ways of The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time in the unpredictability of its hero and his outlook on the world. It’s the tale of the unlikely friendship between Alex and the reclusive Mr Peterson, the bonds they cement through the establishment of a somewhat specialist Book Group and a momentous life and death decision the boy has to make for his friend. 


Alex is hugely likeable, particularly in his approach to the calamity which befell him at such a young age - which he sees as forming the person he is. Without the meteorite, he ponders, he would be a completely different character because his brain would function differently. Despite the   epileptic fits, the bullying he encounters, he steadfastly continues to believe that the meteorite strike has changed his life for the better.


I loved the first meeting between Alex and Mr Peterson - Alex is hiding in the old man’s shed from the school bullies pursuing him when he sees a silhouette in the doorway: “It was a man. There was a man looming in the doorway and he was pointing at me with a stick - a long, cylindrical stick. It gleamed dully in the darkness. My heart jumped into my mouth. The man was pointing a gun at me.” So ends Chapter 7. Chapter 8 sets the record straight:


“The gun resolved itself into what it had been all along. Three feet of lightweight aluminium, grey plastic handle. A crutch.” 


As Alex muses: “Fear distorts the world. Fear sees demons where only shadows dwell. This was the lesson I’d eventually learn.”


The book is full of such unexpected encounters, some funny, some tragic - Alex battles the Universe and somehow emerges to tell the tale and the lessons learned in his own inimitable way. 


Definitely a recommended read.

Last year was a difficult one for me as far as reading was concerned. For a book-lover like me, it was so very sad not to be able to curl up with a good book whenever I wished. Three eye operations later (after all, why have one eye operation when you could have three?) I can now see clearly again - so I’ve started a new webpage to record “Books I Have Read 2018”. I hope other book-lovers will enjoy it - and will feel free to agree, or disagree, with my opinions. Happy reading!

Latest comments

21.01 | 16:24

I read this book recently for our book club. We all loved it too.

02.01 | 21:23

Going by our experience Mr.B. will soon be very hard to winkle out of said chair, so comfortable is it!

02.01 | 21:21

These chairs are wonderful if, as you say, a smidgen, a humungous smidgen, expensive! Both my stepmother and mother-in-law had one.

27.12 | 09:13

You sound as if you had a wonderful day. Hope you are feeling better now. Have a peaceful New Year. Love Pat.xx

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