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Lost Property: The most uplifting debut of…

Lost Property: The most uplifting debut of 2021 (edição: 2021)

de Helen Paris (Autor)

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Título:Lost Property: The most uplifting debut of 2021
Autores:Helen Paris (Autor)
Informação:Doubleday (2021)
Coleções:Sua biblioteca

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Lost Property: The most uplifting debut of 2021 de Helen Paris


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Exibindo 4 de 4
My experience of reading this impressive debut novel provided a salutary reminder of how unwise it is to make assumptions! Looking at the cover of this book and reading the brief synopsis, when I started reading I was anticipating that it would probably be a quite moving but relatively light-hearted read, I certainly had no expectation that not only would it incorporate such a wide range of themes, but that it would explore them with such sensitivity and psychological integrity. In this thought-provoking story Helen Paris used her well-portrayed characters to explore many different aspects of loss – of loved ones, of relationships, of hopes and dreams, of treasured possessions, of our memories, of sense of self – and how their lives had been affected, and often emotionally constrained, by their defensive attempts to avoid any further hurt. She then used them equally effectively to show that they could learn from those experiences, could learn to forgive themselves, and others, to let go of guilt and to expand their horizons. As Mr Appleby reflected, “Life gives us so much, chance, excitement and hope. But woven through it all is loss. If you try to pull out that thread, the whole thing unravels. Loss is the price we pay for love.”
I loved how the author explored how just seeing, touching, or even smelling, certain objects, no matter how insignificant they may appear to others, can trigger a tsunami of memories for us, immediately conjuring up people, places, and experiences (positive or negative) from the past. As Dot (and other characters) discovered, the immediacy of our powerful reactions can provide enjoyment and comfort. However, even when they’re distressing and disturbing, if we don’t shy away from them they can allow us to re-examine past experiences and relationships, enabling us to begin to shift our perceptions of them so that they no longer hold us in their thrall. I admired how effectively the author captured this in her portrayal of Dot’s gradual emergence from the shadows of the past as she was forced to question the veracity of her memories of her childhood and the dynamic interactions between each member of her family. Although there were moments when this was excruciatingly painful, her willingness to face up to these new insights allowed her to open herself up to new experiences and to forge closer relationships with the people she loved.
Although this story contains some dark, disturbing, and distressing themes, without in any way making light of the seriousness of them, the author introduced many humorous scenarios and observations throughout the narrative to offer a counterbalance. This meant that there were moments when I felt as though I was on an emotional roller-coaster, one moment feeling close to tears and the next laughing out loud but, from start to finish, always feeling engaged with Dot’s emotional journey.
The inspiration for Helen Paris’s engaging and enjoyable debut novel was sparked by her experience of working in the Baker Street Lost Property Office for a week some years ago whilst doing some research for a theatre performance. At the time she was impressed by the level of care and attention, irrespective of the value of what was handed in, employees gave to trying to ensure that lost items were reunited with their owners and wanted this to be reflected in her storytelling ... I think she’s succeeded admirably! ( )
  linda.a. | Aug 16, 2021 |
“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 Watson has worked at the London Transport Lost Property office for twelve years where she finds satisfaction in taking care of lost items and reuniting them with their owners. Though once she planned to have a busy globe-trotting career, now she only travels vicariously via guidebooks saved from the Pit.

“You see, I know about loss. I know its shape, its weak spots, its corners and sharp edges. I have felt its coordinates. I have sewn its name into the back of its collar.”

A story of love, grief and guilt, we slowly learn how it is that Dot lost the future she dreamed of, instead finding herself living alone, never venturing further than the few miles it takes her to commute to work, or visit her bossy sister when summoned, or her mother’s care home. Dot is a sympathetic character, it’s clear she suffers from some anxiety and carries a heavy burden. She sees herself as abandoned and unwanted like many of the items in the lost property that remain unclaimed.

‘They . . . objects are time machines, in a way; they can recall . . . the people we have lost.’

Something is triggered in Dot when a Mr. John Appelby comes searching for his late wife’s holdall, accidentally left behind on the number 73 bus. In combination with her sister’s insistence that they sell their mother’s maisonette where Dot is living, her mother’s worsening dementia, and changes at work, Dot begins to lose her grip on herself. Paris handles Dot’s increasing emotional distress with sensitivity, and the major events she confronts with genuine compassion.

"There's a difference though, between being lost and being left".

Paris makes astute observations about memory, family dynamics, and of course the emotional value of objects. There is more tragedy in Lost Property than I expected, though ultimately there is also forgiveness, acceptance, and hope. There’s some humour, and even a little romance.

“Found: Holdall Details: Leather (golden syrup) Woman’s purse (bluey-lilac) Bulbs (tulip) Trowel Place: 73 bus”

Told with warmth and tenderness, each chapter is headed with a tag, like those Dot attaches to the lost objects in her care, bearing the details of something lost, or found, not just objects like Appleby’s holdall, but also people, and intangibles. I found it a little slow and seemingly directionless to start with, but was soon drawn in by Dot.

“...ordinary objects, extraordinary objects, objects that contain in their bodies a memory, a moment, a trace of a life lived, a person loved.”

An accomplished debut from Helen Paris, Lost Property is a touching and poignant novel. ( )
  shelleyraec | May 17, 2021 |
Lost Property was a book with a setting that immediately appealed to me. Dot Watson works at the London Transport Lost Property office and I had a feeling that a story in which lost items were reunited with their owners was going to be my kind of quirky yet heart-wrenching sort of read.

Of course, that is not all the book consists of. Dot herself is lost, but finding her true self again is going to be rather harder than filling in a form and attaching a Dijon mustard coloured label to her wrist. As the story unfolds more is revealed about Dot's past and why she's working in lost property and not travelling the world or working as an interpreter as she had planned. The arrival of Mr Appleby, looking for a holdall containing a purse that belonged to his late wife, is the catalyst for change that Dot needs, even if she doesn't yet know it.

This is such a beautifully written book, really thoughtful, digging right down into the human psyche and the human soul. Everything Dot thought she knew is challenged and she goes on quite a journey of discovery throughout the course of the story. I thought it was so clever how the author used the metaphor of lost property and applied it to Dot and her family. The characterisations are so strong they bounced off the page and came alive for me. I lived through Dot's heartbreak as she gradually lost her mother to dementia and her frustration at her sister's busybody behaviour. I rejoiced on the odd occasion she let herself go, cried when she couldn't cope any longer and giggled at some of the little gems she came out with.

Reading Lost Property is a bit like looking out to sea. On the surface it is an easy to read story of a woman losing her direction and trying to find her way back to herself. Underneath the surface, however, is a roiling and nuanced mass of emotion, a multi-faceted and multi-layered story. I think the author has done an amazing job with this evocative book. Life for Dot has its very dark moments but it's ultimately a truly uplifting read and I loved it. ( )
  nicx27 | May 15, 2021 |
A wonderfully touching story set mainly in the Lost Property offices of London Transport. It may seem a strange setting for such a tale but sometimes it’s not always objects which are ‘lost’. The main character, Dot Watson, is more than a little misplaced herself.

This is such a beautifully and thoughtfully written book. Dot is a fantastic and caring character. She is so well drawn and believable. The story itself takes one on quite the emotional journey. It’s a tale of love, loss, grief and guilt and how to find a way through. As well as having its serious moments, however, there is some humour too. I loved the little ‘dijon’ item labels (so called due to the mustard colour) at the beginning of each chapter indicating their content. And I loved how dedicated Dot was to her lost property items!

I adored every minute of reading this fabulous book and was so sorry to turn the last page. I can’t recommend it enough! ( )
  VanessaCW | Mar 25, 2021 |
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