Lost Property by Helen Paris | Book Review

“All the items handed in to Lost Property bear the imprints of their owners, but none more so than the lost clothes. Look at the hope suspended in socks still arching the shape of missing feet, the cardigan cuffs aching to close around absent wrists, questioning elbows in the sleeves of a lost shirt! Feel the idiosyncratic knot of a shoelace, smell the trace of perfume on a silk scarf.”

Everything that’s lost belongs somewhere.

Dot Watson’s life is stuck. She wasn’t meant to be single at this point, or still working in a temporary job she started over ten years ago. She was supposed to be in Paris, falling madly in love, forging an exciting career. Instead, her time is now 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.

There’s a comfort in her routine that Dot has become quite attached to. But then Mr. Appleby arrives at her work asking for help to find his late wife’s purse.

Dot recognises his desperation and grief – and they stir something unexpected in her: determination. As she resolves to help Mr. Appleby, what else might she find along the way? Could she start to heal her own loss and find where she belongs once more?

27. Lost Property

I found myself drawn to the premise of working in a Lost Property Office – receiving items that have been left behind or abandoned, cataloguing them to be reunited with their owners and, in the process, experiencing a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.

For a place that holds thousands of lost material memories, the Lost Property Office is somewhere between a museum and a library. Dot’s life is measured by her grief and she finds solace in a mundane job. Her attention to detail gives her purpose until a new manager steps in with plans to overhaul the system. Dot foresees the problems he is bringing but is unable to change his mind despite complaints from customers and staff.

As we understand the events from Dot’s past, her profound connection to this place begins to make sense. Which is why when Mr. Appleby arrives looking for his holdall, Dot’s makes it her mission to find it for him, before it is lost forever in a system riddled with issues.

The vulnerability of Dot’s character and her conviction make her a most heart-warming protagonist I’ve read in a while. The prospect of how material loss may somehow help one find their purpose and give them direction is a unique idea that has been portrayed with empathy.

I began reading this with expectations of discovering something unique but was unprepared for the beauty of this work. There’s a measured pace to the novel and it took me a while before I began to understand Dot’s story. At the same time I found myself entirely hooked to Dot’s voice from paragraph one.

Helen Paris has an absolutely hypnotic way with words. There is sentence after sentence that tugs at your heart and evokes emotions in a way I guarantee you’ve never felt before. The setting at a lost property office offers a peek into people lives through the objects they’ve lost which Paris brings to life in a delightfully uplifting way.

A beautifully written journey of loss, this is funny and light-hearted, while also showing the necessity of overcoming grief, finding forgiveness and rediscovering oneself.

Lost Property by Helen Paris. Ebook published in April 2021 by Transworld Publishers, Penguin Random House UK. This ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Transworld Publishers.

Book 27 of 2021.

Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.

Available on Amazon*.

About Photo: When Mr. Appleby first arrives at the Lost Property Office, he describes his missing item to be a leather holdall, sort of a golden-syrup colour, containing a woman’s purse, tulip bulbs, and a trowel.
This origami holdall is made using brown craft paper with cardstock handles and has a dijon-coloured label tied to it, as done for all missing items stored in the shelves of the Lost Property Office. The origami tulips are made from 80gsm paper.
 
27. Lost Property
 
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.
Find her on Twitter or Instagram.
*Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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