Ever lose a favorite earring or the button off of your best coat? Where could that missing puzzle piece or biscuit tin have gone? What if there was a museum for all the lost things of our lives, or a website you could peruse for your missing item? The idea that someone would care enough to create an archive of lost things is the premise of a an enjoyable debut by Ruth Hogan, The Keeper of Lost Things.
Laura married young, too young. She gave up college and writing for what turned out to be a tragically disappointing marriage. Finally free, with a pack of regrets and few marketable skills, she answers an ad for a housekeeper at a beautiful old estate called Padua. Laura comes to love taking care of her employer, the saintly Anthony whose secrets include a lost love and his mysterious collection. A successful author, he began collecting lost items when he lost his fiancee on the same day that he lost a precious object that she gave to him. When Anthony dies, he leaves his estate to Laura on the condition that she try to reunite some of the owners with their lost items from his collection. She finds assistance from the attractive estate gardener and a young woman who is eager to be Laura’s friend. There also seems to be a ghostly inhabitant of the house who is trying to communicate with the trio.
Alternately, we learn the story of Eunice, who is breaking into publishing in the 1980s, and her employer, Bomber. Eunice and Bomber become best friends who share their lives with two dogs who have very discerning tastes. The lives of Laura and Eunice come together in a satisfying conclusion.
Hogan has written a delightful, feel good book that will give readers some respite from the concerns of our times. Her references to a couple of saints and a religious artifact create a lightly religious framework for a magical story.