Today I am delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Lost Property by Helen Paris.
A moving and life-affirming debut novel from an exciting new voice in Book Club fiction. For fans of Saving Missy and The Authenticity Project, with themes of loss, hope, forgiveness and kindness.
Everything that’s lost belongs somewhere. Dot Watson just needs to be found.
Dot Watson’s life is stuck. She wasn’t meant to be single at this point, or still working in a temporary job she started ten years ago. She was supposed to be in Paris, falling madly in love, building an exciting career. Instead, every day in Baker Street’s Lost Property office, she diligently catalogues hundreds of lost umbrellas, lone gloves and an alarming number of shoes.
There’s a comfort in her routine that Dot has become quite attached to. But then Mr Appleby arrives at her work asking for help to find his late wife’s purse.
Dot recognises his desperation and grief – and they stir something unexpected in her: determination. As she resolves to help Mr Appleby, what else might she find along the way?
Loss can come in many forms, it’s something we all experience. Big or small, loss is a part of life. Dot understands that more than anyone. She deals with it everyday working in the Baker Street Lost Property office. Not living quite the life she expected, she finds solace in reuniting the lost with their rightful owners. Spending her days working with ‘objects’ which, to the people who have lost them, are simply irreplaceable.
Author, Helen Paris says,
Although entirely a work of fiction Lost Property was influenced by the short time I spent in Lost Property, Baker Street shadowing different employees as research for a performance. Whether it’s a designer bag left in the back of a cab or a woolly scarf forgotten on the number 44 bus, loss touches all of us. It is pervasive, and it never ends – as Dot Watson might say, ‘It’s reliable like that.’
I have always been fascinated by the memories that objects hold, how even the most every day object – a pipe, a bag, a small purse – can help us recall a place or a person or a particular time in life. Objects can be totemic, portals to the past. Tactile memory – the memories triggered by holding familiar objects – can be profound. Some objects almost let us time-travel back to places we yearn to be, to the people no longer with us, and linger there, if only for a moment.Helen Paris
This is such a beautifully written and constructed story. I can feel the love and passion that has gone into to it. I really cared for Dot. She is this warm, kind and, in some ways, deeply troubled lady. I don’t think she realises quite how much past events have affected her. Then one day Mr Appleby arrives to report a lost bag and Dot understands his loss is so much more than the contents of that bag. The bag contains his late wife’s purse and she knows why he wants to find it again, what it means to him. She becomes determined to reunite him with his lost bag, wanting to help ease his pain a little, little does she know it will open the floodgates to her own pain and suffering.
As we get to know Dot we can see she is reaching crisis point in her life. She carries so much grief, guilt and sadness with her. The story unfolds before us as we read and I couldn’t help but adore Dot, I wanted to see her come through the difficulties, to find happiness again. To find herself again. She is such a wonderfully unusual character, and reminds us that it’s okay to not fit the mould but to break it and be your won person. She is just wonderful, smart and oh so funny. I would so love to have seen her dancing in that outfit! (you’ll just have to read the book to find out what I’m referring to.)
This was a wonderful debut. It made me laugh, it made me cry. At times it is heartbreakingly sad, at others filled with joy. There are a host of wonderful characters, each with stories of their own. Helen is incredibly observant and she captures the complexities of what goes on in our own heads brilliantly; how something that can be seen as catastrophic to one person can be forgotten in a instant by another. However, what I felt most in the pages of this story was the love – many types of love that comes into our lives. Possibly most poignant where the references to a mother’s love, a father’s love – often taken for granted until they are no longer by our side. We learn so much from them, about life, about love – without even realising it. And of course what also takes centre stage – the ‘things’ that we pick up along the way, so many easily replaced, discarded or lost but there are always some that could never be replaced simply for the memories they invoke.
My thanks go to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to the publisher, Doubleday, for providing me with an ARC and for introducing me to the wonderful Dot. She truly has been a joy to follow and completely unforgettable. I simply adored Lost Property.
Helen – thank you for Dot! I can’t wait to read more from you.
About the author
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.
Lost Property is her first novel.