“The Keeper of Lost Things” by Ruth Hogan is that rare book that will have readers thinking and marveling about the lovely characters, events, places, and myriad mysteries of the lost items — each of which has its own story.
Laura is divorced and adrift when she responds to the advertisement for a housekeeper/personal assistant in a paper. That job, with author Anthony Peardew, changes Laura’s life. While Laura is the main character, there are many other characters whose stories and possessions fill the pages with warmth, humor and pathos. Laura’s story includes Peardew, the author whose heart was broken twice on his wedding day — once tragically when his fiancee died, and again on that day when he lost the medallion she had given him asking him to “keep it with you always,” and he had promised that he would.
But he had lost it.
That same day was to be the best day for Eunice, for it was the day when she answered an advertisement for an assistant to a publisher. On that day, she met someone who would end up changing her life.
Anthony Peardew began collecting lost things as a way of atoning for having lost the thing that mattered most to him. The story is filled with powerfully emotional stories-within-the-story about many of the lost items. Many of the characters in the story are also lost, but as with the items that eventually make their way back to their rightful owners, some of the “lost” characters also become “found” in a manner of speaking.
When Anthony dies, he leaves Laura the house with the desire that she reunite the lost things he has collected, and which fill his study, with their rightful owners. He has meticulously recorded for each item where and when it was found.
The stories and the characters wind their way through the book and meet beautifully in the end. But it’s the in-between that is a joy to read. The characters who fill the pages range from the rather horrid sister of one to the lovely, Down syndrome neighbor who befriends Laura. There is also a bit of magic in the pages and in the mysterious manner in which Sunshine, the young neighbor friend, “knows” things about some of the lost items.
Anthony Peardew’s house is named Padua. Sunshine begins calling Anthony “St. Anthony of Padua,” and there really is a St. Anthony of Padua who is the patron saint of lost things. There are ghosts, mysteries, tragic loss and gradual loss, love, death, and lots of dogs within the pages of this book. Lots of lovely, stray dogs who become loved and cherished.
This book would be a wonderful choice for a book club or anyone who wants a story that’s just a bit different from other books. One must overlook the less-than-perfect editing. There are instances of too many pronouns, leaving the reader wondering to which person the “she” refers, and a few misplaced or missing punctuation marks. But that doesn’t detract from the wonderful writing and the captivating story.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, William Morrow, for review purposes.