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August - The Keeper of Lost Things

(75 Posts)
mischief Mon 31-Jul-17 12:07:26

Just wanted to thank you for my copy of The Keeper of Lost Things, received today. I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Candelle Sat 26-Aug-17 10:01:39

Keeper of Lost Things is not the type of novel I would choose to read as the descriptions on the (beautifully designed) cover of ‘charming’, ‘exquisite’ and ‘wonderful’, may actually have put me off – too whimsical. However… the very first paragraph drew me in. What a brilliant start to the book! I immediately wanted to read on and I am delighted I did.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and enjoyed getting to know the characters (although there was – am I a bit dim? – a slight element of initial confusion between the parallel characters of Laura/Anthony and Eunice/Bomber). Once I had got to grips with the personalisations, I loved the way the plot gently unfolded, each story intermingling every so often with the other.

The portrayals were so well described that I could picture Anthony and Bomber, a little less so with Laura and Eunice. Sunshine was a bonus and although I don’t know anyone with her syndrome, she came over as being very believable and added a good dimension to the story line (I still smile at ‘the lovely cup of tea’), the dogs too!

The description of Bomber’s parent’s descent into severe memory loss and old age was sensitively written and I actually felt sad when it became obvious that the same fate awaited him.

I did not really enjoy the power of Therese. I don’t enjoy anything ‘ghosty’ and hoped that her involvement would be minimal but of course, she was the central thread weaving in and out of each chapter. Suspending belief (non-belief?!) with Therese’s antics, I was delighted when, at the climax of the story, everything came together and Therese could rest in peace with Anthony.

I could see this book becoming a film, along the lines of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’, especially the dreaded Portia (who was probably misunderstood…?!) – the next big romcom?

My question to Ruth (and many congratulations for an amazing first novel) would be ‘how did the premise for the storyline come to you? Did you find something and wonder about the story behind its loss?’

Many thanks, Gransnet, for a really good read

granofive Sun 27-Aug-17 15:05:05

What an entertaining and enjoyable book. Perfect summer reading. Two parallel threads joining together in conclusion.. Look forward to the next book.

gillybob Sun 27-Aug-17 17:34:39

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book . My favourite character being Sunshine ( who was just that sunshine) . I particularly liked the part where they scattered Anthony's ashes and she made her funny, mixed up speech, bless her I could picture her so easily. I thought the little stories about each of the "lost things" that were interwoven throughout the book were brilliantly done and started me thinking about random objects I often find whilst walking on the beach . All in all a lovely story.

GrandmaEvie Sun 27-Aug-17 23:00:12

Thank you for the opportunity to read such a delightful and beautifully written book. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the way they interact with each other.
I would love to know how the ideas are developed and Ruth did you have a clear idea about your story before you started writing it?

GrannyO Mon 28-Aug-17 12:23:48

Thoroughly enjoyed this story. An unusual one.

granjan15 Wed 30-Aug-17 23:15:15

Thank you so much for The Keeper of Lost Things. It was a delightful, easy summer read. I did find it hard to suspend my disbelief over the ghostly intervention of Therese but that didn't spoil my overall enjoyment of the book. I look forward to reading your next book Ruth.

halfgran Thu 31-Aug-17 22:36:09

What a great book it covered just about every aspect of life in its intertwined stories of the main characters, the lost things and their owners. Some of the descriptive phrases were very good 'tinnitus of technology' being my favourite. Hoping for more of the same in Ruths next novel which I shall be looking out for.

Venus Mon 04-Sep-17 09:24:45

Unusual storyline and the characters well drawn. I've not quite finish the book but enjoy reading the stories about the lost items within the main story.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 18-Sep-17 14:43:53

Answers from Ruth right here...

RuthHogan Mon 18-Sep-17 14:45:21

Worlass

Thank you so much for my copy of "The Keeper Of Lost Things", which I received yesterday. Since l am labouring my way through a somewhat heavy-going tale at the moment, I decided to take a quick peek at this new book and was instantly drawn into Ruth Hogan's fairy story. I have just finished reading it and must admit that, although it is completely different from my usual reading matter, I did find it enjoyable. It is a mixture of laugh-out-loud and lump-in-the-throat with an unpredictable conclusion.
I would like to ask Ruth Hogan how she manages to make the story flow so seamlessly when there are so many strands to it and to thank her for an excellent read.

In answer to your question I have no idea! I’m not a great plotter and planner. When I started writing KEEPER I knew the beginning and the end, and some random bits that I wanted to include, but I am a great believer in seeing where the story and the characters take you. It can be quite a nerve-wracking way to write, but it seems to work for me.

CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 18-Sep-17 15:32:31

A slight technical hitch - the rest of the answers to follow very shortly!

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 11:49:48

LadyGracie

I read it in a day, a fascinating book, I loved how it all came together.

A very clever book I think, weaving itself quite intricately around the different characters. It made me laugh a lot too, Sunshine is wonderful.

I am already on the lookout for Ruth Hogans next book.

I echo the question from Worlass how did you make it flow so beautifully?

See above. I have a lovely round stone on my writing desk that I picked up on a beach in Pembrokeshire. On it is written a single word – trust. It is a reminder to myself to trust my instincts when I’m writing.

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:34:40

In response to nonnanna about how I came up with the idea of writing about lost things and about my rescue dogs...

I’m a documentary junkie, and I also hoard articles about weird and wonderful topics. One such article is about the weird and wonderful things that end up in lost property departments and it was one of the inspirations for KEEPER. Also, I’m fascinated by the emotional investment we make in seemingly trivial objects with little intrinsic value. They become our lucky charms, talisman and relics. I did have a version of Douglas amongst my rescue dogs but he sadly died in April. He was a Great Dane cross who was completely blind. He had been badly beaten and was picked up as a stray before we gave him a home. Towards the end of his life his back legs gave up on him, so I had a chariot made for him so that he could still go for walks. He loved it!

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:35:08

eGJ

Thank you gransnet, my copy arrived and I started reading straight away. A splendid start and set up but I got a little muddled by some of the characters. However, it all became clear in the end as the stories wove and entwined. Laugh out loud moments and sad times too. A good read for summer.
After you had had the original idea Ruth, did you have to plan each thread individually or did you work them side by side from the start?

I wrote the book in exactly the same order as you have read it and so, yes, I wrote all the threads side-by-side from the beginning. It did sometimes feel a bit like plate-juggling, but I love a challenge and I did go back afterwards and carefully check that everything tied in!

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:35:38

Gagagran

I read this book on a recent three day visit for a funeral. It was the perfect light reading which I could dip in and out of without losing the plot. Sunshine was a wonderful character and "the lovely cup of tea" still plays in my mind and makes me smile.

This was an original idea for a book, verging on a fairy story and it managed to keep the right side of twee. I am still unsure whether the Eunice and Bomber story needed to be part of Laura's though. That distracted me and felt disjointed. It was like eating a dinner featuring both meat and fish.

I'd love there to be a follow on book with what happened next to Laura and Sunshine. Any chance of that Ruth?

The Eunice and Bomber story needed to be there because it was Eunice who found Anthony’s medallion, and it was Eunice who returned it to Laura at the end, thus reuniting Anthony and Therese. As for a sequel – I don’t have one planned, but I’d never say never!

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:36:31

rocketstop

Hi Ruth,
I can't believe this was your debut novel, it was so accomplished.
Your story drew me in straight away, the characters jumped off the page, I could see and hear them !

I thought it was really good that you didn't try and be all 'Politically correct' in how you portrayed Sunshine and instead of trying to make her the same as other people, you really celebrated her difference and made her sing out because of it, I thought that was truly lovely.In fact, Sunshine was the most 'Together' person in the story, as most of the others had been upset in some way.
I loved how you weaved everything together around the found objects, and whereas I could have ignored things I might see in the street like a discarded shoe or a piece of lego, my mind is now going to be awash with thinking what the back stories to these items might be !!!
Some people have called it a 'Fairy story' but I think that does it some injustice, I think it's a story full of hope and about love lost and found.I thought it was beautiful.
Are you nervous about what the reaction will be to your second book now you have set yourself a very high bar ? I can't wait to read it.
Thank you and I wish you very good health after your rocky road.Keep writing !

I think the second book for any author is a tricky beast and it was for me too. There’s always that lurking fear that you’ve already peaked and anything else you write will be an anti-climax! But I’ve had so many wonderful messages from readers all over the world telling me how much they enjoyed KEEPER and how parts of it touched their lives. They’ve also told me how much they are looking forward to book two and that made me determined not to let them down, and I hope I haven’t. My second novel is called THE PARTICULAR WISDOM OF SALLY RED SHOES and it’s a completely new story, but I think very recognisable as mine in terms of style and the cast of characters.

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:36:54

Grannyknot

Just typed (and lost) a review. Gr. Here goes again:

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, I liked the premise and the main characters. Loved Bomber and I especially liked Therese, she was so real!

That brings me to my question: have you had personal experience of similar goings on? (Re Therese, I mean, trying not to give too much away here).

Oooh! Good question. I think you are asking if I’ve ever had any first-hand experience of ghosts. The answer to that is yes. I’ve experienced things that it would be difficult to explain logically or scientifically, and I would call them ghosts. My dad was brought up in a house that was haunted by a child who had died there, and I remember him telling me stories about it when I was very young. But they were never told in a scary, sensationalist way, but rather as part of his everyday life. I don’t ask my readers to believe in ghosts, I simply ask them to consider the possibility that they may exist. After all – we can’t prove that they don’t!

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:37:16

inishowen

I finished the book last night and really enjoyed it. It was so different to others. I like the idea of caring for lost things. Can I ask what age Laura is? She talks about being old and past it, and not worthy of a relationship. I like the way all the ends came together and were tied up in a satisfying manner!

I picture Laura as being in her early to mid-forties. She married young and hasn’t had any serious relationships since her husband. I think the way she puts herself down initially is due to fear and lack of self-confidence.

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:38:09

Mapleleaf

I've just finished reading this wonderful book. I liked the portrayal of all the characters and I think the issues raised in the story were dealt with in a sensitive way.
I was wondering, Ruth, where you got your idea from (writing a story about lost things, I mean) and will you consider another story involving Laura, Freddy and Sunshine?

I think I’ve probably answered both these questions above. I haven’t considered writing a sequel, partly because I’ve got so many other stories that I want to write, but having said that, writing more about Sunshine is a very tempting prospect…

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:38:57

PoshGran

Have thoroughly enjoyed this book!

There were a lot of 'lost' things in this tale; not only Anthony's collection of items but people too & it was pleasing that the cleverly intertwined plot had both objects being reunited & the various misplaced characters finding contentment in their 'home'. A very satisfactory resolution.
The character writing was strong; I particularly enjoyed Bomber & the glorious Sunshine - many of her utterances were priceless (the ashes scattering episode especially!) . The descriptive passages were well-observed & on occasion very tender.

Thank you Ruth Hogan for an enjoyable read. I see that you live in a Victorian house too, is there a little of your home in 'Padua'? I grew up in somewhere similar - there's something about old wood, moulded ceilings, mosaic-tiled floors & the deceptive space of a terraced Victorian villa, isn't there?
So, flowers & wine from me & brew (the lovely cup of tea!)

I think there’s more than a little of my house in ‘Padua’! The Victorians were great collectors, and the houses they built cry out to be filled with collections and curiosities (that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it!) I have always been a collector even before I wrote KEEPER, and I can’t imagine that I’m going to stop anytime soon – much to my husband’s dismay! And I also grow roses in my garden. They’re my favourite flowers.

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:39:20

Greenfinch

I enjoyed this book because it was so well-written and as the chapters were so short, I often found myself picking it up and reading one throughout the day. I particularly liked the inter-woven short stories and the parallel story of Eunice and Bomber possibly because it carried on into old age.
However ,I find it difficult to suspend disbelief and I found the Therese bit, all the coincidences and Sunshine's constant malapropisms (is that the right word ? )a little over the top but that is more about me than the book which I too would label a fairy tale and should be accepted as such.
Congratulations Ruth on writing something a little bit different and the excellent characterisation that made you want to find out more about these people .I felt particularly sad for Anthony and later for Godfrey.
My question to Ruth would be why did Vince make a brief appearance instead of being left as a piece of Laura's past?

Vince made an appearance for several reasons. Firstly, I wanted to show the reader what a weasel he was rather than just describing him, which in turn helps the reader understand Laura’s past and her emotional baggage a little better. I also wanted Laura to demonstrate how much stronger she was becoming, by the way she dealt with him. Thirdly, it was a great opportunity for comic interlude!

RuthHoganAuthor Fri 22-Sep-17 12:40:14

GeminiJen

Thanks again, Gransnet, for introducing me to a book I wouldn’t normally have chosen. For me, the cover looked a bit ‘flowery’ and the descriptions ‘charming’ and ‘exquisite’ wouldn’t have attracted me to it. Lesson: Never judge a book by its cover! However, while I was sceptical at first, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and thought it was beautifully written: a feel-good novel but with a great deal of thoughtfulness. The characters are so lovingly drawn (except the despicable Portia!) but best of all is Sunshine, the “dancing drome”. The way the two stories of Eunice and Bomber, then Laura, Freddy and Sunshine dove tailed was very clever and worked so well to culminate into a very satisfying ending. The writing is always superb but really excels when the short vignettes of the memories attached to the “Lost Things” appear. There is undying love – some lost, some unrequited and some fulfilled. There are wonderful friendships. There is the unbearable sadness of people dying – in mind and body. The gradual slides into dementia are addressed with humour and heartrending pathos: “Pretty damn sure that woman was my daughter. But there have to be some consolations for having this ruddy awful disease.” That made me laugh out loud, and not many books do that. My thanks to Ruth for an excellent read.
My questions: Where did the initial idea for the novel come from? How long between initial idea and completion? And what next for your second book?

The initial ideas for the book came from an article about the weird stuff that ends up in lost property departments and another about what happens to human cremation remains when they are not collected from funeral directors. I was also inspired by the story of a former neighbour of mine who became an extreme hoarder after his fiancée died. It took me about eighteen months to complete the first draft. Book two is complete and currently being printed as a pre-publication proof. Here’s how it’s being described…
Masha is drowning.

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago.

Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town's lido, where she seeks refuge underwater - safe from the noise and the pain.

But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women - the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl-turned-magician's wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice - opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.

Until the fateful day when the past comes roaring back...

NannaM Mon 09-Oct-17 00:16:48

Hello RuthHoganAuthor just wanted to say Thankyou for the most exquisite, perfect, book I've read for ages. I hope there's going to be a movie. You have a really delicate touch and I didn't want the book to end. Big Canadian fan here! Can't wait for the next book!

Lovetopaint037 Sat 06-Jan-18 22:47:58

Loved this book. It was unusual, well written and such a change from the usual literary offerings of late.