Lost Property is a book I heard lots of people talking about when it came out last year.
It’s recently come out in paperback too and I treated myself to a copy.
From the back of the book
One lost purse. One lost woman.
A chance encounter that changes everything.
Dot Watson has lost her way. Wracked with guilt and struggling with grief, she has tucked herself away in the London Transport Lost Property office, finding solace in the process of cataloguing misplaced things. It’s not glamorous or exciting, but it’s solitary – just the way Dot likes it.
That is, until elderly Mr Appleby walks through the door in search of his late wife’s purse and Dot immediately feels a connection to him. Determined to help, she sets off on an extraordinary journey, one that could lead Dot to reclaim her life and find where she truly belongs…
I found Lost Property a very moving read. There’s a sadness pervading the story, emanating from Dot, the main character. Her father has died and she is really struggling with his death with feelings of guilt and, of course, of grief. Her mother has early onset dementia and is in a care home, not recognising her daughter at all.
There are many different kinds of loss in the book, beginning with the obvious: items lost on the various modes of Transport for London. Dot works in the Lost Property office and takes great pleasure in reuniting lost items with their owners. She went to great lengths to reunite one particular item with elderly gent Mr Appleby as she could really understand just how important his lost item was to him and why. I enjoyed reading about all the items which were lost and the little happy endings as they were reclaimed.
As well as the lost property of the title, there is the loss of Dot’s father and to a certain extent her mother is lost to her too. She faces the loss of her home too and really feels lost in herself, not sure of what her life should be. I liked the inclusion of the lost property tags at the beginning of each chapter, some detailing actual things which had been lost and which featured in the chapter. But others were quirkier such as “Lost: inhibitions. Details: line dancing” after Dot had gone to a dancing class with a colleague and much to her surprise, really enjoyed herself. Yet others were poignant such as the label describing the loss of her mother’s memories.
Lost Property is a book filled with warmth, humour and some unforgettable characters. One character who really stood out for me was Dot’s father, even though he had already been dead for some years. The connection and memories between him and Dot were so lovely to read about and his story was particularly poignant. Lost Property is a heart-warming read about memories and loss, about finding your way in life and finding hope.
Lost Property is published by Transworld/Doubleday and available now in all formats.
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.