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The Room Of Lost Things Hardcover – 6 Mar 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (6 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844082121
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844082124
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.4 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 800,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stella Duffy was born in London and grew up in New Zealand. She has written thirteen novels, over fifty short stories, and ten plays. In addition to her writing work, she is also a theatre director and performer. She lives in London.

Product Description

Review

Stella Duffy is a writer who never lets you down, and this is her most ambitious, satisfying book yet. (Ali Smith)

Stella Duffy strides into a whole new league with her lyrical, gritty, deeply affecting journey into the heart and soul of south London. (Manda Scott)

Book Description

* A brilliant new novel from the author of SINGLING OUT THE COUPLES, STATE OF HAPPINESS and PARALLEL LIES

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By NB on 28 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
I love London. The buildings, the tube, the bustle. A few years ago I finally went to South London and discovered a different London. One that doesn't come with map, that is louder, stranger, a mish-mash of cultures - sounds, smells and sights - squashed next to each other in shops less picture postcard and even more alluring for that.

`The Room of Lost things' is set in this area, which is painted in a loving yet real fashion, with no grotty archway or uncomfortable issue (race/sex/politics)glossed over in favour of making it seem desirable to outsiders, and the descriptions in this book are almost poetic at times.

Stories with too many characters can be confusing and distracting, but this, although heavily casted, is not like that. You can picture Stefan the commitment-phobe dancer; Akeel the terrified and conflicted father to be, Marilyn with her tight clothes and massive appetite, and of course, there's Robert, the protagonist - owner of the dry cleaners and many, many secrets.

His story had me going. I couldn't wait to find out more about him, but this wasn't because of any overly dramatic devices or cheesy revelations. Like the character his story was slow, steady and well-thought out.

I've been a fan of Duffy's since finding Immaculate Conceit in Manchester's Central Library many years ago, and her writing has matured, progressed and is even better, which as I love her other books, was a lovely surprise.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By 1st Honeybee on 28 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a book about London as its people know it - the London the tourists don't see, but the inhabitants live. The focus of the book is the story of a local dry cleaner who's spent his whole life there, cleaning people's clothes, keeping their secrets, observing their lives. Now he's passing on his business to another Londoner - young to his old; Muslim to his atheist; Asian to his white. The landscape, the river and vignettes of the people they encounter along the way are the background to their growing friendship, richly and skillfully drawn.

The Room of Lost Things is a gorgeous evocation of the spirit of South London; a compassionate portrait of its people and their changing lives, beautifully written, funny, clever and moving. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 2 April 2009
Format: Paperback
The story focuses on several characters but in particular Robert Sutton who is the keeper of the room of lost things. What is the room of lost things? Why it is a laundry in Loughborough Junction which he is leaving. A laundry that he inherited from his mother Alice (one of my favourite names, I know not one horrid Alice) though sadly he himself has no Indeed the deal is very much done and he is handing the shop over to Akeel and his wife, meaning that he is packing up and dealing with his past and not only the secrets that other people have left in their laundry, but his own demons. All this whilst also training Akeel to do his job.

The rest of the book looks at the people in the area some of whom go into the laundrette and others who merely pass it day by day. Two of my favourite characters were the two homeless men who can often be found on the unwanted sofa on the street watching the world go by. Actually saying that I don't think I had any favourites exactly I enjoyed all the characters and their tales and there is a huge scope in this novel be they the nanny who is having an affair with her boss, an old lady who has Alzheimer's though doesn't know it (that's not a bad joke it's the truth) or the commitment phobic dancer.

With a book filled with so many characters Stella Duffy's additional skill is managing to give you insight into all their lives, relationships and stories without you feeling confused. There is really though one true star of the story and that is London and not the London that everyone knows and loves, not the tourist traps and the hustle and bustle of the West End. This is a truer London that those, like me, will know and love.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Penny Cloutte on 26 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
I was enchanted by this book. It reminded me of why I fell in love with London when I first moved here several decades ago. It is the protrait of a South London community over a year - a year in which the dry cleaner's business passes from the hands of ageing, white working-class Robert, who grew up in the shop, to Akeel, a young Asian East Londoner who dreams of a future business with many such shops. The author evokes the mixed community with snapshots from the lives of a range of individuals, their preoccupations, love-affairs, encounters with mortality, and their various strategies for coping with the hazards and beauties of London life. She describes with delicacy the growing relationship between Robert and Akeel, creating an elegy to the stoicism, humour and resilience of Londoners. She has created a vision of the role of the dry cleaner as the keeper of secrets, community historian, and father confessor which accentuates the everyday, understated herosim of the likes of Robert. The whole is grounded in an awareness of the plants, birds and animals that share the land with the humans, and always, in the background, the river Thames.
The vision is so convincing it took me a few days after reading the book to even wonder whether Loughborough Junction is the name of a real place after all, or whether it belongs with such believable creations as Platform 9 and 3/4 on Kings Cross station...
An unusual and original book which deserves the Orange Prize for which it has been longlisted.
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