Sometimes I can’t help but pause and wonder whether, as a reader, the books we read find us, rather than vice versa? This idea has been playing around in my brain over the last few days, as I finished two of the loveliest books, both of which provided much needed respite from the pandemic that surrounds us. I was raised by a superstitious mother and I’ve always loved stories that err just a little on the side of magical, where what’s ‘meant to be’ becomes apparent. Before I realized that The Husband and I were over, I read a string of books about women who are left with two children, by the men in their lives. I hadn’t even noticed really that I had done this, until a friend of mine pointed out that Paris by the Book, The Cost of Living and The Overdue Life of Amy Byler are all about this. I had read them in a window of about a month, before everything turned to…. well, you know what I mean. Now, as I hope for happier (even if very uncertain) times, I find myself reading books about moving on and how there’s a point in life between what has happened and what will be, that we all just have to transition through. The problem is that it still requires just that little dash of superstitious magic.
The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is just a gorgeous read and yes, there’s plenty of everyday magic in it, the kind that we all crave in our lives. Anthony Peardew, an author of some notable short stories, dies and leaves his house and its contents to his housekeeper, Laura. Laura has developed a special love for the house, and her care for Anthony assures you of her character and the wisdom of his choice. She has recently separated from a husband who treated her badly, and finds comfort in the care of the home that smells perpetually of roses. What she doesn’t realize, until Anthony’s death, is that the office that she has never been allowed to enter, is full of ‘lost things’, all of which need to be returned to their rightful owners. She embarks on this seemingly futile task with the assistance of a teenage girl, Anthony’s gardener and yes, a ghost.
I grant you that this seems like an implausible mix, but it all just comes together so beautifully that you end up almost wanting to have this life. To live somewhere haunted and to face an impossible task in great company. The Keeper of Lost Things is an absolute fairytale of a novel for adults and allows you to find plenty of happiness in the quietness of life. I think right now we could all do with knowing that what seems impossible and futile, really can bring you joy.