Sunday, 25 April 2021

Lost Property - Helen Fields

About the book… 
Dot Watson has lost her way.

Twelve years ago her life veered off course, and the guilt over what happened still haunts her. Before then she was living in Paris, forging an exciting career; now her time is spent visiting her mother's care home, fielding interfering calls from her sister and working at the London Transport Lost Property office, diligently cataloguing items as misplaced as herself.

But when elderly Mr Appleby arrives in search of his late wife's purse, his grief stirs something in Dot. Determined to help, she sets off on a mission - one that could start to heal Dot's own loss and let her find where she belongs once more...

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About the author… 

Helen Paris worked in the performing arts for two decades, touring internationally with her London-based theatre company Curious. After several years living in San Francisco and working as a theatre professor at Stanford University, she returned to the UK to focus on writing fiction. As part of her research for a performance called 'Lost & Found', Paris shadowed employees in the Baker Street Lost Property office for a week, an experience that sparked her imagination and inspired this novel.

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My thoughts…

Oh my goodness Dot Watson has lost her way - but I’m so glad I found her.  Lost Property has got to be one of the most beautiful, heartfelt books I’ve read.   The central character Dot is working in the Transport for London Lost property department.

I had an instant affinity with her, she likes to be organised, she’s meticulous and has a passion for stationery - who can’t fail to love someone who loves a good pen?  She’s quick witted and funny and I found myself laughing and smiling in the first half of the book - more than I expected, a lot of it down to the analogies the author uses - you can’t help but sit back, take stock and think about what you’ve just read.

The author, Helen Paris has a way with prose that had my internal camera snapping away, her descriptive style of writing is just wonderful.  The images in my mind we’re as clear as any photograph.  

Although the central character is Dot, it really is a story about her life, her family and the life lessons and experiences that have shaped them all.  Her father is deceased, her mother has dementia and her sister Phillippa has a lot to say for herself.  In the same way as I had an instant affinity and felt an emotional attachment to Dot, the opposite was the case with Phillippa, she was or appeared to be, as my grandma would say “all top show” - caring more about appearances and other people’s opinions. The sisters are often at odds with each other on what they think their mother needs and Phillippa seems to know what Dot needs too but doesn’t seem to actually see her.

Dot takes an enquiry from a an elderly gentleman who has misplaced a hold-all, amongst the contents is a purse that belonged to his late wife - it’s this that is the catalyst for a journey we travel with Dot and her sister, gaining an understanding into their characters, the lives they’ve led and why they are who they are.  Dot being the biggest piece of Lost Property herself.

This was an incredible read, I feel privileged to have read it and loved being part of the emotional journey that Dot took - even if it did break me at times. Lost Property is a beautiful, intricately woven story and the closer I got to the end the more I wanted to read slower so it didn’t end. It is a very special book, that I will definitely savour and read again.  Lost property taught so many valuable lessons. As we traverse through life we hit crossroads and sometimes we don’t think we have a choice but all roads lead somewhere and when the time is right we can choose to change direction and head for a different place.

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