Tag Archives: magical realism

Review of The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan

I bought a copy of Ruth Hogan‘s The Keeper of Lost Things.


Description from Goodreads:
Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—

Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancée, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidently left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?


Review:
You guys, I’m not a weeper, but there were several points during The Keeper of Lost Things that made me tear up and one that made me sob. (The last nursing home scene, for those who have or will read it. OMG, be strong my breaking heart!)

Yes, I disliked a few of the side stories and I would have like a little more resolution on a few point. (How did the wife die? How did Laura make up for the final horrible things she said to Freddie?) But more important than any small niggles I had was how much the book made me feel. I frequently chuckled and awed and, yes, cried. To me, this is the mark of a wonderful book.

I also really liked the characters, even Portia (Ok, like is a strong word, but I appreciated Portia.), and I thought the writing was beautiful, quaintly English and easy to read. I look forward to reading more of Hogan’s work and I have to thank my bookclub for picking this book for our monthly read. I doubt I’d have read it otherwise.

Review of Curva Peligrosa, by Lily Iona MacKenzie

I won a copy of Lily Iona Mackenzie‘s Curva Peligrosa through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
When Curva Peligrosa arrives in Weed, Alberta, after a twenty-year trek on the Old North Trail from southern Mexico, she stops its residents in their tracks. With a parrot on each shoulder, a glittering gold tooth, and a wicked trigger finger, she is unlike anything they have ever seen before. Curva is ready to settle down, but are the inhabitants of Weed ready for her? Possessed of an insatiable appetite for life and love, Curva’s infectious energy galvanizes the townspeople, turning their staid world upside down with her exotic elixirs and unbridled ways. Toss in an unscrupulous americano developer and a one-eyed Blackfoot chief, stir them all together in the tumult of a tempestuous tornado, and the town of Weed will never be the same again. A lyrical account of one woman’s journey and the unexpected effects it has on the people around her, Curva Peligrosa pulses with the magic at the heart and soul of life.

Review:
Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with this book. The writing is good. The editing fine. (I found a few hiccups, but I think I have an early copy.) It didn’t really win me over though. I’m generally a book-a-day reader and it took me four days short of a month to finish this book. That’s an eternity in my reading world.

It’s one of those books that’s supposed to be imbued with meaning. You’re supposed to read it in your book group and natter on about how important and inspiring it is in its abstractness. You’re supposed to see Curva, in all her uneducated, back-to-earth greatness as holding some secrets that we could all do with learning.

I however, thought it was too random and lacking focus. I dislike aggrandization, especially purposeful self-aggrandizing. It’s pretentious, and that’s how this book felt to me. I very much think this book will be a total winner for some people and total flop for others. I wouldn’t expect too many middle of the road readers.

Review of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

I borrowed a copy of Neil Gaiman‘s The Ocean at the End of the Lane from my local library. It was my book club book this month.

Description from Goodreads:
Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Review:
I appreciate the way this wrapped around into something satisfyingly circular. I thought it was well written, with a good voice and thoughtful perspective. Seeing a seven-year-old’s perspective on things reconsidered with adult eyes was interesting. For the most part I really enjoyed it. It just felt a little too fantastical and weird at times. Like maybe Gaimen needed to reign himself in a little.