STARRED REVIEW
February 21, 2017

How to find yourself

By Ruth Hogan

Every lost item holds within it a story. Perhaps it was a treasured memento, or a useful item thoughtlessly left behind. Whatever the case, Anthony Peardew collects those items and the histories he imagines for them. In The Keeper of Lost Things, debut novelist Ruth Hogan ties together the lives of her characters and the objects they discover. It’s a quiet but beautifully intricate novel that will remind readers that we are each other’s points of connection.

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Every lost item holds within it a story. Perhaps it was a treasured memento, or a useful item thoughtlessly left behind. Whatever the case, Anthony Peardew collects those items and the histories he imagines for them.

Anthony knows loss. His fiancée, Therese, gave him a communion medallion that depicted St. Therese of the Roses. It was a thank you for the rose garden he planted at what was to be their first home. “It’s for you, to say thank you for my beautiful garden and to remind you that I will love you forever, no matter what,” Therese said as she bestowed the gift. “Promise me you’ll keep it with you always.”

The day he lost it was the day she died.

Anthony began to collect lost items and write stories about their origins. His first story collection was a success, but as Anthony ages, his work becomes darker and his publisher displeased.

These lost objects are more than Anthony’s attempt at salvation after losing his love, and more than a publisher’s means to an end. When Anthony dies and leaves his collection to his assistant, Laura, she becomes the Keeper of Lost Things. Anthony leaves instructions: Laura should return the items to their rightful owners, in hopes that she’ll heal at least one heart. In the process, she befriends a neighbor and Anthony’s gardener. They become key to Laura’s own healing after a failed marriage.

As the trio works to reunite the items with their owners, they periodically encounter sadness—both their own and that which seems to accompany the objects themselves. That’s part of living, Laura’s young friend says. “If you never get sadness, how do you know what happiness is like?” In The Keeper of Lost Things, debut novelist Ruth Hogan ties together the lives of her characters and the objects they discover. It’s a quiet but beautifully intricate novel that will remind readers that we are each other’s points of connection. When life becomes confusing or sad, showing a bit of kindness and appreciation for each others’ stories can lead to redemption.

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The Keeper of Lost Things

The Keeper of Lost Things

By Ruth Hogan
William Morrow
ISBN 9780062473530

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