My lovely Auntie Ann recommended 'The Keeper of Lost Things' by Ruth Hogan, and was going to send me her copy but we found a slightly damaged one on the Waterstones sale table so I bought it. As a book it is indeed very much like a lovely cup of tea, warm and satisfying. The book snob in me could witter on about clichés and predictable plots and nice tidy endings, but I really enjoyed it. The Lady calls it 'exquisite', and I'm not surprised because they get not one, but two mentions.
So Laura and Eunice, both dissatisfied with their current lives, both find jobs via The Lady, one as an elderly writer's dogsbody and the other as a publisher's assistant. Anthony, the elderly writer, lost the love of his life and also the token of her love, and as such has spent his life finding and keeping other people's lost things. Then he dies and leaves the whole kit and caboodle to Laura, on the proviso that she works to return the lost things to their owners. We follow Eunice and Laura's separate, but historically linked, existences, through the decades, with their loves and losses and friendships, until they are finally brought together by inevitable events. I nearly gave up on it on page 122 when Eunice and Bomber get a pug, since they are my most unfavourite of all the dogs, and I completely fail to understand why people find these disgustingly genetically modified animals to be cute. I also debated with Monkey the treatment of Sunshine, a young woman with Downs Syndrome who befriends Laura; while it is refreshing to see disabled characters as just a normal part of life there was a rather saccharine cutesie-ness to the way she is portrayed. I think I need a book like this every now and then, one in which everyone is caring and lovely and the sun shines and people have happy endings even when they die, and even the baddies are allowed their moment of redemption. They are undemanding but give you a pleasant feeling of completeness because all the loose ends are always tidied up. And they did drink an inordinate amount of tea.
"'I think he needs a biscuit,' said Sunshine, tenderly stroking the bundle of fur and bones that ought to have been a lurcher. He watched her with frightened eyes that mirrored the beatings he had endured. Tired of their torture, his tormentors had kicked him out to fend for himself. Freddy had found him the previous evening lying on the grass verge outside Padua. It was raining hard and he was soaking wet and too exhausted to resist when Freddy had picked him up and brought him inside. He had been clipped by a car and had a superficial wound on his rump that Laura has cleaned and dressed while Freddy had held him shaking and wrapped in a towel. He refused to eat anything but drank a little water, and Laura stayed up with him all night, sleeping fitfully in an armchair while the dog lay inches from the fire, wrapped in a blanket and never moving. As the first wraithlike light of the winter damp seeped through the lace panels of Anthony's study, Laura stirred. Her neck was cricked and complaining after a night spent folded awkwardly into a chair. The fire was reduced to few struggling embers but the dog hadn't moved." (p.155)