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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay

The Secret of Lost Things: A Novel by Sheridan Hay. New York: Doubleday, 2006. ISBN: 978-0-385-51848-2

This is one of those bookish books that you hear about, and you think, “Wow,” I gotta read THAT.” Our young protagonist grows up in Tasmania, of all places, her mother a hat maker, designer, owner of the Remarkable Hats shop. But hats eventually go out of fashion, and her single mother seemingly worries herself to death, beset by debts, and a dwindling business, just as Rosemary turns 18.

That is where the real story actually begins. Rosemary travels to New York, and finds work in a gigantic dustbin of a bookstore, a store that is almost a city in itself. The story revolves around the eccentric cast of characters who live and work, and even seek their fortunes there.

Eventually, we get caught up in the tale of a missing Herman Melville novel, a novel he wrote, but never published. Could the copy he sent to the publisher have survived somewhere all these years? One of the more eccentric characters, the albino assistant store manager, believes in the book, and hatches a scheme to locate and sell it on his own, intending to pocket the profit, and retire, hopefully perhaps, with the striking Rosemary as his paramour.

The story is richly fabricated, deeply rewarding, even when we are not altogether happy with how events unfold. Although written in the first person, how totally different than Earl Emerson's Into the Inferno, which I so soundly rejected a couple of blog entries ago! I had no problem identifying and sympathizing with Rosemary from the first page. Definitely recommended for all bookish readers who like bookish books.

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