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Lost Property

Everything that's lost belongs somewhere.Dot Watson just needs to be found. Every day, in the London Transport Lost Property Office, Dot Watson diligently catalogues the objects found on buses, tubes and trains. She's the custodian of hundreds of black umbrellas, a surprising number of shoes and one mid-century sofa.But it's not only the objects that are lost. Twelve years ago, Dot's life veered unexpectedly off course and she's never quite recovered.Like Dot, Mr Appleby has lost more than just a bag. His late wife's purse was inside and he's desperate to be reunited with it. Determined to help, Dot sets off to solve the mystery of the missing purse.Along the way she might just find something even more important - herself.
RRP $32.99
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PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: Lost Property
  • Author: Helen Paris
  • Publisher: Transworld
  • ISBN: 9780857527301
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Languages: English
  • Subtitle: The most uplifting debut of 2021
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 13/04/2021
  • Pages: 384

RATINGS & REVIEW

26/03/2021 5:36:24 PM - Marianne
an accomplished debut novel.
Lost Property is the first novel by British author, Helen Paris. When she was eight years old, Dot Watson had life all planned out: “First I’ll be a librarian, read all the books on the shelves, then I’m going to learn to speak five languages and travel all over the world, and then I’ll open my detective agency and solve complex international jewel heists.” Decades later, her job at the Transport for London’s Lost and Found Department near Baker Street Station seems far removed from those early ambitions. However, the Lost and Found is a bit like a library, items catalogued and stored: “Lost Property itself has something of the past about it, like a museum, a depository of memories, a library of loss. I think that is why I have always felt at home here”. Dot does get to vicariously travel the world via the many travel guides left behind; and, with ten years’ experience, she knows how to employ the detective skills her father inspired to track down an item or an owner. And when she does reunite an owner with their possession, it’s immensely satisfying, so there’s that. In her own time, Dot peruses her travel guides and visits her mother, Gail, newly resident at The Pines Care Home, compliments of worsening dementia and a fractured hip. Her bossy older sister, Philippa is making noises about selling Gail’s maisonette to cover costs, a move that will see Dot homeless. At work, Dot has been successfully fending off advances from Neil Burrows, the obnoxious and self-important holder of the keys to the Valuables cage, but with the boss’s retirement, Neil’s promotion makes this more difficult. And, in the interests of cost covering and efficiency, Neil introduces two measures that prove unpopular with both customers and staff: a reduction in the holding period before an item is sent to auction; and an increase in the (previously nominal) holding fee. When Mr Appleby, clearly a true gentleman, comes looking for the holdall that contains his late wife’s purse, Dot immediately understands the importance of restoring this item to its owner. “Joanie’s purse, Dad’s pipe, Mum’s record –ordinary objects, extraordinary objects, objects that contain in their bodies a memory, a moment, a trace of a life lived, a person loved. Portals that we hold in our hands, willing them to transport us back to those we have lost, if only for a moment” By the time it is handed in, Dot finds herself going to extremes to return it, despite being jobless and virtually homeless. Throughout the story, snippets of Dot’s life, her family, her time in Paris and her work slowly build the picture of her life, and exactly why she has foregone the career she had planned is gradually revealed. Her grief at her father’s death is apparent from the start, but her guilt, and the reason for it, and her need for her safe words (sellotape, safety pin, superglue), are less obvious. Each chapter is headed with a Dijon (mustard-coloured) tag bearing the details of an item lost or found. “Lost: Holdall Details: Leather (golden syrup) Woman’s purse (bluey-lilac) Bulbs (tulip) Trowel Place: 73 bus.” But of course not every loss is a physical item; people and abstract concepts can also be lost. Paris populates her tale with a cast of characters for whom the reader cannot help but care (with one notable exception), and even those initially less appealing redeem themselves by the final pages. She gives them wise words and insightful observations; and she somehow manages to include line-dancing, absinthe visions and bullying. Her description of Gail Watson will strike a chord with many who care for elderly or demented parents with clueless siblings who don’t recognise what is important. With gorgeous prose that will have the reader laughing out loud and choking up, often on the same page, this is an accomplished debut novel. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Random House UK.
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SHIPPING AND RETURNS


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