The Secret of Lost Things Paperback – 6 Oct 2011
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'I loved “The Secret of Lost Things”. I loved the Arcade bookstore and the characters Sheridan Hay has created to occupy it. They are all a bit mad and very alive in this intriguing and hugely entertaining novel.' Roddy Doyle
‘Sheridan Hay writes with a watchful eye and a nuanced heart, investing us in the fate of Rosemary Savage and the drama of bookish obsession becoming obsession plain and simple. She tracks her vivid eccentrics, flushes out their desperate natures, and suddenly we feel the old business of innocence and experience freshly lit. The tormented spirit of Melville comes gusting through, but by design – “The Secret of Lost Things”forges ahead on its own strong sail.’ Sven Birkerts, author of The Guttenberg Elegies
'Hay writes with great charm, and her whimsical, coming–of–age novel keeps the reader hooked form the first to the last page.' Times
About the Author
Sheridan Hay was born in Tasmania. She worked in bookstores and in publishing for many years, and holds an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington. She has published short stories and teaches writing in the graduate program at Parson's School of Design, at The New School. This is her first novel.
Top customer reviews
THE SECRET OF LOST THINGS is about 18 yr-old Rosemary from Tasmania. When she loses her mother, she is left with little in her life. On the encouragement of a close friend, she makes a break from her old life so that she can start living, travelling to New York City. Here she finds work in a bookshop, the Arcade. The Arcade prides itself in being able to find very rare editions, helped out by the unusual set of characters who work there: these range from a transsexual to an albino. The story is meant to revolve around the idea that there is a lost manuscript by Herman Melville, and Rosemary is the first one to hear about it. As expected, in such an evironment as the Arcade, this news sets the staff into a frenzy a rivalries come to boiling point.
That is the basic plot, although by the time I had reached page 113, this plotline had still not developed. Perhaps I am impatient, but as I duly picked up the novel each day, I found myself slowly becoming more and more despondenet about it. Rather than devouring it like I thought I would, instead I was slowly plodding through it, waiting for something of consequence to happen.
Although this may be a very good book, but simply lost on me, I personally would not recommend it as the riveting read it promised.
It's a real book lovers book with most of the story taking place in the Arcade, a huge book store with a literary mystery at its heart. A book store peopled by intriguing characters.
At the start of the book Rosemary,following the death of her mother, travels from her native Tasmania to New York to start a new life. Rosemary, is a very likeable protagonist, so unassuming that she has no idea how other people may be attracted to her. Although the book is quite clearly set in a modern day New York, there is also a sense of timelessness about the setting of the narrative. This fable-like urban landscape is the backdrop for Rosemary's journey to real adulthood and a new life. It's a book that I'll keep on my bookshelf rather than passing on.
The Secret of Lost Things has flaws, but on the whole, it is a compelling tale written in lush language that is seldom seen from a contemporary writer. Rosemary, the first-person narrator, is imperfect, and so are the people she encounters. Some of her co-workers are downright disturbing (much like the people most of us encounter every day, frankly). This only deepened my interest in the story. That the novel involves a mystery (the appearance of a previously-thought-lost manuscript by Melville) set in a large bookshop, it only became more compelling as I turned the pages.
I also disagree with the critics who said that the story didn't "quite come together," as I thought Miss Hay combined the threads very well. Also, and to her credit, I did not see the plot twists coming from miles away (and there are indeed several twists). This is not a compliment I'm often able to give.
Opinion is ephemeral, as the wide range of experience for this novel clearly shows. You may loathe The Secret of Lost Things. You may adore it. I came much closer to the latter than the former, and the best praise I can offer for this first effort is that, several days after finishing the last page, I'm still mulling it over.
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