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?
Lost Property is major Transworld title for Spring 2021, acquired in a hotly contested auction.
Lost Property is a story I found myself fully immersed in from the very first page.
Dot works in the lost property office, a job which she truly loves. As we follow Dot’s story, we learn a lot about her as the story progresses. We quickly come to learn that she has had many difficulties to overcome throughout the years, but those obstacles are the things that have made her the woman she is today.
When Mr Appleby arrives in the office to report his bag missing – a bag which also contained his late wife’s purse – Dot knows she has to help him recover his missing property. The loss he has faced is something that Dot can relate to on a deeper level, and this in turn caused some of her own pain and loss to come bubbling to the surface once again.
I adored everything about this story. Each chapter begins with a lost property label, describing something that has been left behind – and brings to life a story about the item itself, the owner and a memory that accompanies it. I have to say, I never really gave items found in a lost property office much thought before this novel, but reading about the emotional attachment that Mr Appleby had to his late wife’s purse really tugged at my heart strings.
The characters were delightful and had so much depth to their personalities, each of them dealing with their struggles in their own ways. The author really brings the characters to life for the reader, and as you progress through this story, you find yourself feeling a strong connection to each of them, almost as though they have become close friends.
I found myself on an emotional rollercoaster as I read this wonderful story, quickly moving between sadness and loss, to kindness and hope. The story really emphasises the importance of the people we have around us, and the memories which we hold inside too, a truly moving sentiment I must say.
A truly beautiful story that captured my heart. I loved this book.
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.
A note from Helen:
“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 black 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 the places we yearn to be, to the people no longer with us, and linger there, if only for a moment.”