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Search tags: The-keeper-of-lost-causes
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text 2019-05-01 00:00
Finished!
The Keeper of Lost Causes - Jussi Adler-Olsen, Lisa Hartford

I pushed through and managed to finish it up. It wasn't bad, exactly - I was invested enough in Merede to check the audiobook out again when it expired the first time - but I disliked the police detective main character and felt the author dragged everything out too long.

 

Carl (the police detective) had some survivor guilt, and was probably also dealing with depression and maybe anxiety or PTSD. None of that was why I disliked him, although the effect all of it had on his behavior likely didn't help. He was surly, and bent on doing as little work as possible without actually getting himself fired. If it hadn't been for his new assistant Assad's influence, he probably would have been fired at some point. But what really got me was his toxic levels of misogyny.

 

He'd likely be one of those guys who'd argue that he couldn't possibly be misogynistic because he loves women. Yeah, loves checking them out and evaluating them based on how good-looking he finds them. It was particularly infuriating when he did it with the new department counselor (or whatever her job title was). He pretended he needed a session with her (and he really did, even though he refused to admit it to himself) in the hope that he could ask her out on a date. Thankfully, she wasn't an idiot and saw right through him.

 

Assad also evaluated all women on the basis of how good-looking they were, although he was more cheerful about it and readers weren't forced to live in his head. Considering the way the main male characters acted, I expected Merede to come across like cardboard, but she was my favorite character.

 

Anyway, I have no intention of continuing on with this series. It took way too much effort just to get through this one book. And as for Snakes and Ladders, I'd prefer to finish a book that fits my current square, but I'll keep this on reserve just in case I get impatient.

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text 2019-04-30 20:40
2 hours left
The Keeper of Lost Causes - Jussi Adler-Olsen, Lisa Hartford

I really wish I had a physical copy of this, because the part I'm at is utter torture and I'd love to just skim a bit.

Merede (not sure I'm spelling her name right) is trying to kill herself before the people who have been holding her captive can open the door to her prison and kill her themselves in a horrific way (although I'm skeptical that she'd be conscious for much of it, I can understand her desire for a death of her own choosing). All she has is a little piece of plastic, though, and she can't seem to properly puncture a fatal spot. Meanwhile, the cops are coming, but there's no guarantee they'd be able to help if they got there in time. The couldn't immediately free Merede either, not without accidentally killing her the same way her captors intend to.

(spoiler show)

Die, or get saved. But please do it in the next few minutes. Pleeease.

 

I have 6 hours before this expires for the second time. I'm not requesting it again. Maybe I can find a spoiler or something if I can't quite make it all the way to the end. I've got the narration speed up to 2x.

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review 2018-03-01 00:00
The Keeper of Lost Things
The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan 3.5 stars

The secondary story of Eunice and Bomber made the book for me. I would have read a whole book about their relationship. The second best part was the short stories about how the some of the objects were lost. These were often dark or devious - quite different from the main storyline.

The main storyline, especially the romance between Laura and Freddy, was predictable and I felt that the love story was thrown in because the author was told it was necessary (they were fairly dull characters and the romance lacked passion - seemed more a romance of convenience). I would have been happier for Laura to really come into her own with a friendship and possibility of the romance on the horizon, but hey, that's just me.

I was surprised that later on there was some magical realism with ghosts and some sixth sense courtesy of Sunshine, Laura's young neighbor and new best friend, thrown into the mix.

The story was a bit uneven, but enjoyable nonetheless.
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review 2017-06-03 14:03
A gentle read for those who love books set in Britain, short-stories and Blithe Spirit
The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel - Cecily Ruth Hogan

Thanks to NetGalley and Two Roads for offering me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

Although I am not sure this is ‘the feel-good novel of the year’ I’d have to agree it is a feel-good novel, although perhaps not for everybody.

The novel tells many stories, although it tells two in more detail, those of Anthony and Laura (later of Laura and her new family) and Eunice and Bomber. Although those stories are separated by forty years, they are parallel in many ways: an older man who puts an advertisement for an assistant, a younger woman —very young in Eunice’s case— who ends up becoming a personal friend of the man and whose life ends up enmeshed and entangled with that of her employer, both men’s work relates to literature (Anthony is a fairly successful writer of short stories and Bomber is a publisher), both males die leaving some sort of legacy to these women (and also asking them to fulfil their final wishes). As we read on, we might suspect that the relationship between these two stories runs deeper than at first appears, but it is not confirmed until very close to the end.

There are other important elements in the novel, which functions also as a collection of short stories, as Anthony, after experiencing a terrible loss, started to collect lost things, cataloguing them and using his study for safe keeping, in an attempt at recovering something he had lost himself. Throughout the novel, there are stories about those objects (written in italics so it is easy to differentiate them to the rest) interspersed with the two main stories. We are told, later in the book, that Anthony used those objects as inspiration for several collections of short stories, but the novel allows for several possible interpretations of what these stories really are. Are they imaginary stories? Are they the real stories behind the objects? If they are imaginary short-stories who has written them? Anthony? Somebody else? Each reader can choose whatever explanation s/he prefers and I’m sure there are more possibilities.

I mentioned the two main stories that frame the novel and the short stories within. Each chapter is told (in the third person) from one of the characters’ point of view (mostly Laura or Eunice) and this is is clearly indicated, as it is the year, because Eunice and Bomber’s story develops from the 1970s up to the current days. We get to know his family and follow his father’s illness (Alzheimer’s) that unfortunately later also afflicts Bomber himself. There are comments on movies of the period; there is the wonderful relationship with Bomber’s parents, the two dogs that share his life and an unrequited and impossible love story. Ah, and Bomber’s sister, Portia, her awful behaviour and her even worse attempts at getting her brother to publish one of her rip-offs of well-known and loved classics, that make for hilarious reading, especially for authors and book lovers. I must confess that, perhaps because their story develops over time and it has none of the paranormal elements added to the other, I particularly warmed to it. I found the depiction of the dementia sufferers (both father and son) touching, humorous and bittersweet, and although we don’t get to know Eunice well (other than through her devotion to Bomber and his life-work), she is a character easy to like and some of her actions make us cheer her on.

Laura’s story is that of somebody lost, perfectly in keeping with Anthony’s life mission. She made some questionable decisions when she was younger, married too young and her knight in shining armour turned up to be anything but. She is very insecure and full of self-doubt and that makes her a less likeable character as she pushes people away rather than risk being rejected, but she is also the one who has to change more and work harder to get out of her shell. Sunshine, a young neighbour, Down’s syndrome, also shares her point of view with the reader at times and becomes a member of the family, although she has her own too. She is less hindered by concern about what others’ might think, or what is right and wrong, and she has a special connection (not sure ‘power’ is the right word) with the objects and with the paranormal elements that later appear in the novel. Fred, the gardener, is the love interest, handsome and kind, but he seems to be there to provide the romance and second chance more than anything else, and he is not very well developed.

I’ve mentioned the paranormal elements. There is a ghost in the house and that takes up a fair amount of the book as Laura keeps trying to work out how to make things right. I am not sure this added much to the story but references to Blithe Spirit (that is being performed by an amateur theatrical group in the neighbourhood) put an emphasis on the effect the writer might have been aiming for (each reader can decide how well it works for them).

This is a well-written novel, with effective descriptions of objects, locations and people. There are elements of chick-lit (the descriptions of Laura’s disastrous date, her chats with her friend…), romantic touches, some elements of mystery, plenty of loss, death and second chances, a fair bit about literature… The whole feeling of the story is somewhat old-fashioned (and very British. I’ve lost count of how many ‘lovely cups of tea’ are prepared and drunk during the novel, and although that is partly in jest, yes, there is a fair amount of repetition, foreshadowing and signposting, perhaps unnecessary in this kind of story). Some of the references, including songs and films, will be lost on the younger generations. Everything is fairly gentle; even the bad characters (Portia) are only moderately nasty and they are the object of fun rather than being truly evil. There are gossip and misunderstandings but nothing really awful happens. No gore details, no huge surprises, no hot sex (I think you’ll have to buy Portia’s stories of Hotter Potter for that), and even technology only appears by the backdoor (people send text messages and a laptop and a website  appear towards the end, but this is not a book where characters follow mother trends).

Funnily enough, a publisher (rival of Anthony) sums up what the books he publishes should be like, thus:

I know what normal, decent people like, and that’s good, straightforward stories with a happy ending where the baddies get their comeuppance, the guy gets the girl and the sex isn’t too outré.

The structure of the novel and some of the short-stories are not at all like that, but the spirit behind it perhaps it and its charm might be lost on some readers who prefer more action and adventures and a more modern style of writing.

In summary, a gentle read, bittersweet, with plenty of stories for those who love short stories, of particular interest to lovers of books and movies set in Britain, stories about writers, the publishing world and women’s stories. It has sad moments and funny ones but it is unlikely to rock your world.

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review 2016-11-23 09:19
The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel - Cecily Ruth Hogan

Author Anthony Peardew has been haunted by a broken promise for forty years. Compelled to collect lost items in the hope of finding their owners his study in Padua, his home. But as he realises his life is drawing to a close, he also knows that he must pass on the task of reuniting the items with the people who lost them. The perfect person is Laura, his assistant and housekeeper, who finds herself the new owner of Padua and its contents. Eager to carry out Anthony’s wishes but overwhelmed with the task she is soon aided by Freddy, the gardener and Sunshine, a lonely girl with special gifts. Unbeknownst to her it may be that Anthony has left her the greatest gift anyone could have. And whilst she helps lost things find their lost people, she may just find herself in the process.

 

There is something slightly magical about this book. It casts its spell over the reader, drawing them into the story, so that you are soon caught up in the tale of Anthony and his lost things. This is a book that keeps calling to you to read if you have to unfortunately break off for any reason.

 

The story is populated with a wonderful array of characters, with not one out of place. Laura had arrived at Padua years earlier, looking for an escape from the tattered remains of an unhappy marriage. With Anthony and the house she finds peace and a surrogate family. As the story develops so does Laura, becoming less embittered, less selfish and more sure that she has some self worth and is deserving of happiness.

 

Freddy, the gardener, awakens feelings in Laura that she though were long gone, but also provides friendship and laughter, helping her with her task. Then there is Sunshine, who as her name suggests, brings light and warmth to the lives of her new friend Laura and Freddy. Sunshine is a special girl, with unique gifts and her ability to say, simply, what other people find difficult to vocalise helps Laura in unexpected ways. Laura and Freddy help to counteract the bullies who have marred Sunshine’s life and give her purpose.

 

There is a parallel story running throughout, that of Edie and Bomber, spanning forty years. Edie’s story is one of unrequited yet sustaining love, of her deep friendship with Bomber. Throughout her tale there are glimpses to show how her story and Anthony’s story merge together, whether that is serendipitously or coincidentally is open to question.

 

The tale weaves between the two, showing how Anthony and Edie’s lives become inextricably linked, through coincidence or cosmic design. It requires some suspension of disbelief but is done in such a charming way that you could almost be left wishing real life was a little more like this book. It is a ghost story, a story of love, and of sadness and of the impact physical things can have on a person’s life.

 

The story shows the history behind some of Anthony’s lost things, some happy, many sad, others funny. All snapshots into other people’s lives and the significance, or not, of the physical objects gathered through life. They are the muse for Anthony’s popular short stories. Perhaps life does imitate art for the author herself is a collector of lost things and inspired her novel and the cover features some of the treasures she has unearthed over the years.

 

Don’t expect a mad dash of a story for this is a gently told tale. Sometimes that is just what is needed, gentle escapism. A lovely story, perfect to curl up with on a long winter evening. I look forward to reading more from Ruth Hogan in the future.

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