Tuesday 2 March 2021

Lost Property by Helen Paris @drhelenparis #LostProperty @DoubledayBooks #BookReview @HJ_Barnes @BeckyShort1


Dot Watson has lost her way.

Twelve years ago her life veered off course, and the guilt over what happened still haunts her. Before then she was living in Paris, forging an exciting career; now her time is spent visiting her mother's care home, fielding interfering calls from her sister and working at the London Transport Lost Property office, diligently cataloguing items as misplaced as herself.

But when elderly Mr Appleby arrives in search of his late wife's purse, his grief stirs something in Dot. Determined to help, she sets off on a mission - one that could start to heal Dot's own loss and let her find where she belongs once more...

Lost Property by Helen Paris is published digitally on 15 April 2021 by Doubleday / Transworld. The hardback is published on 13 May 2021. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

I was totally engrossed by Dot Watson and life at the Baker Street Lost Property Office. I read this one in just a day, and lost myself completely within the story.

Dot Watson is meticulous in her work. She's been a fixture at the Lost Property Office for many years. Diligently attaching the dijon mustard coloured labels to every single item that is handed in. Logging them, and shelving them and hoping that one day, they will be returned to their owner. Lost Property is Dot's life, outside of work, she has little else. Her beloved father is dead, her mother is living in a care home, and often does not recognise Dot, her elder sister is obsessed with money, status and cleaning and would love for Dot to get a 'proper' job and find a man. Dot's colleagues think she's a bit odd, and to be honest, she is odd. However, she's loyal and warm, she's just a bit lost herself.

Elderly Mr Appleby visits the office to see if his holdall has been handed in. Mr Appleby's story really touches Dot. It's not the holdall that he's bothered about, it's the tiny lilac-blue purse that was in it. It belonged to his late wife and he desperately wants to find it. Dot takes this to heart and is determined to find the purse. She doesn't expect to have to face up to quite so many of her own issues along the way.

Lost Property is a charming, heartwarming story that really lifts the spirits. It would be all too easy for this to be a little bit twee, but the author incorporates some hard hitting issues within the story, and does it with sensitivity and compassion. The characters are colourful and beautifully crafted, and as Dot's life seems to become more unstable and unfocussed, the reader really roots for her.  There are some touching and quite heart breaking moments as Dot faces up to things from her past and battles with the implications of those on her future. 

Emotionally rich and character-led, Lost Property is a sharply funny, wise and warming story. 

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.

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