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10
2.3 out of 5 stars
Lost
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I would have liked to have given this book more stars. It was well written and I liked the character of Winnie Rudge. However, the author seemed to have had several ideas for books in his mind and decided to try to put them all in one novel, creating something that was confusing and which, ultimately, didn't work. We start with Winnie Rudge, the author of children's readers and an astrology book, which has been very successful. She comes to London to stay with her cousin in Hampstead, only to find he has disappeared and there are some builders working in the kitchen who are neurotic about sounds in the chimney stack. We follow Winnie as she hunts down people who know her cousin and try to discover his whereabouts and as she and the builders investigate the noises in the chimney. Then, the story becomes confused. Without wishing to give the plot(s) away, there is a confusion of characters and clues. Winnie believes her ancestor was the character Dickens took Ebenezer Scrooge from and she also has images of Jack the Ripper fleeing to Hampstead and attacking young, pretty servant girls. Jack the Ripper's hunting ground was, obviously, Whitechapel and he attacked middle aged, drunken prostitutes, not pretty young girls. So, if anyone was interested in the book due to links to the Ripper they would be sorely disappointed, as that part of the storyline stretches credulity too far. Overall, the story becomes a bit mired in side plots, with odd characters appearing, sudden side steps into areas we haven't been aware of before and bizarre occurences. I think it could have been a very good book, but I was disappointed at the end and felt the whole thing was simply a mishmash of storylines, which did not add up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
What Gregory has always done well in his writing is his character creation, it gives you someone that you can not only empathise with but want to spend time with which, as far as I'm concerned is the cornerstone for any novel.

However whilst the prose and humour was just as sharp as ever what this title lacked was any clear plot outline as it felt like the more idea's the author had the more he added without any real thought as to cohesion for the project as a whole. This just led to confusion, a great deal of head scratching and to be honest will be something that will leave a lot of people wondering whether he's all spent up with the previous two offerings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 October 2013
Having achieved great success with his reimagining of both The Wizard of Oz in The Wicked Years series and Cinderella in Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, with Lost Gregory Maguire offers a ghost story evoking A Christmas Carol with a side order of Ripperology.

Winifred Rudge is a morose and rather prickly American author who has been living for years off the spoils of her bestselling astrology book, The Dark Side of the Zodiac; the fact that she has absolutely no faith in the veracity of astrology apparently not having hampered her ability to convincingly put pen to paper and tell other people what they want to hear. With sales of her book dwindling, Winifred needs a new source of income and so has begun work on a novel about a Wendy Pitzke, a woman on the trail of Jack the Ripper. Not having made great progress on the novel at home in New England, Winifred hops on a plane to old England in the hope of jump-starting her research. She intends to stay at the Hampstead flat of her step-cousin and friend John Comestor but, upon her arrival, she discovers that Comestor has mysteriously vanished, leaving behind no explanation for the two Catholic builders who are trying to build an unauthorized staircase to the roof of the building from his kitchen nor for the strange noises that emanate from the chimney behind the wall where they're working. Even more mysterious, to Winifred's mind at least, is the fact that the house used to belong to her great-great grandfather, the man rumoured to be the inspiration for Dickens' Ebenezer Scrooge.

Winifred soon abandons her research in favour of investigating the twin spectres of Comestor's disappearance and the ghostly noises behind the wall. While trying to discover Comestor's whereabouts Winifred becomes acquainted with some of his bizarre neighbours and is forced to confront her family's peculiar history as well as her own unvanquished past. Against her better judgement, Winifred is drawn to a psychic who warns her about the person associated with the shroud she finds nailed to the wall behind Comestor's chimney. All the while Winifred pursues her own mysterious quests, the story of Wendy Pitzke is unfolding in her mind.

Winifred Rudge is not a particularly likable character. Even though she is the central personality in Lost, Winifred is very hard to get to know and even harder to sympathise with. Her reserved nature and the limited insight into her inner self that the reader gains are no doubt deliberate plot devices designed by Maguire to make the difficult truths about Winifred's past that we ultimately learn more shocking but it still served to make me feel rather disengaged from her investigations. The pace of Lost is fairly ponderous and the story takes a while to really get going which also serves to distance the reader from the "action" and deadens the suspense of the hauntings and spooky occurrences. The premise of Lost was very good and Maguire certainly has a great comic touch but there was something lacking in the story.

Lost is the first of Gregory Maguire's novels that I have read and I suspect that it is not really the best place to start. While I quite liked Lost and was fairly gripped by the spooky elements and overarching mystery of the story, I didn't love the book and certainly didn't develop anything near the devotion to Maguire's storytelling that his earlier books, Wicked for example, seem to have inspired in other readers. I found Maguire's writing style to be pleasant and reasonably engaging and he does have an interesting spin to put on well-established stories. I am certainly tempted to read one of his other novels to see whether his earlier work is indeed more compelling and hype worthy. Ultimately, Lost is a pretty good ghost story but perhaps not the best book to begin with if you are new to Maguire's oeuvre.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2011
I am almost 90 pages in and almost nothing had happened. There are five or six threads to the story, all of which have potential but seem two-dimensional so far and show little sign of developing.
Why are all of the characters so miserable, rude and pushy? None of them are particularly endearing and I find it hard to care what happens to them.
The way people react to things also seems unrealistic. If someone goes missing in suspicious circumstances, surely you'd do a bit more detective work rather than just a cursory glance around the flat and have an unporductive chat with a neighbour.
I'm so glad that another reviewer has summed up the plot so that I don't waste five hours or so trying to finish this book! Disappointing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2011
So much less than it promises to be. We have a blurb telling us that this will be a tale of a haunting by Jack the Rippers ghost of an American woman who claims a distant relative to be the inspiration for Charles Dickens' Scrooge. So much scope to delve into the atmosphere of a bygone London and the characters, legends and evil of that time. Instead, the author has taken a bypass around every potential area for excellence and told us a tale of a neurotic American woman filled with self pity and delusions. Not on a par with the Wicked trilogy or Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 31 January 2013
I agree with other commentators that this was a bit of an odd read. I nearly gave up when I first started reading this as I struggled. I usually give in by the time I'm a third through but stuck with this one as it's all I had to read whilst waiting at hospital. Well written characters at times but the plot and the characters thoughts meandered all over the place. The main character Winnie Rudge seems to be all over the place with her thoughts and at times I stopped caring about her completely. Can't say I hated the book but in the same tone I can't say I loved it.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
I had high hopes for this ghost story and every last one of them was shattered. I felt cheated by the narrative, which struck me as being far too meandering and self-indulgent for its own good. If I hope to read a ghost story and I seem to get a ghost story I rarely expect it to beome something disapointingly other and quite disjointedly so too. I was similarly disapointed by the lead protagonist. One of literatures less convincing female characters.
Perhaps this was just not for me. Perhaps the writers style will suit other readers tastes more than mine. But to my mind, it was trying to be too clever for its own good. As a result, I found it disapointing & dull.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2012
Quite possibly the worst book I have ever read or at least in a VERY long time. The plot should have resulted in a wonderful book, but it is so confused and mired I gave up. I tried a second time and gave up again.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2009
This is the 3rd book that I have read by the author Gregory Maguire. He has many good reviews about his books, full of praise but when I read his books, I feel disappointed and think - what a waste of time!

I couldn't enjoy this book because I just didn't think it was realistic. Funny noises coming from a wall, Wendy Rudge (the main character in the book) thinks that the noises are linked to Jack The Ripper. Then she finds a shroud in the wall, a historian tells her that the shroud is 600-700 years old. Then she gets possessed by a spirit called Gervasa who speaks medieval French who was burned at the stake and wants to know if her baby was saved or also killed in the fire.

I had to read over some passages some of the book, because some parts of the book went in one ear and out the other.

I didn't enjoy the book, maybe other people will!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2010
Although I was tempted to give up Lost soon after I started, I found It oddly compelling. And rightly so, It seems, as by the end of It I had really enjoyed It. Wendy Rudge, the main character, was Interesting (to say the least) and guided the reader through all the chaos around her. I especially liked the background story weaved In and out of the book.

All In all, though a difficult and somewhat confusing book, one that I am glad I took the time to read.
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