>What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn
Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Tindal Street Press 2007, this edition 2008
Review Quote: ‘Part ghost story and part mystery, What Was Lost is an enthralling tale of a little girl lost, wrapped in a portrait of a changing community over two decades’ The Observer.
My Opinion: Gripping and mysterious.
Awards: Costa First Novel 2007, Galaxy British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year 2008, Long listed for Man Booker Prize 2007
A double narrative that moves back and forth between the present and the past whilst revealing to us what became of the protagonist Kate. The action is centred around an enormous shopping mall which when the story opens in 1984 is where ten year old Kate spends much of her time. A bright girl but a loner, the mall has become her sanctuary from an unhappy home life. Her time is spent at playing detective,with the help of a stuffed monkey as an assistant. Her dream to have her own investigative agency when she is grown up. A neighbours adult son Adrian is her only real confidante, so it is no surprise that when Kate mysteriously disappears, blame is directed at him.The present is some twenty years later and a realistic study of how modern urban life can centre round a shopping mall. Scary thought and made me dislike such places even more than I already do, they are devoid of personality in my opinion. The mystery deepens as Adrian’s much younger sister is now a young woman working in a record store in the mall. Through her friendship with a security guard in the centre she learns of the ghostly glimpses of a little girl, with a soft toy in her hand, that appear on the centres CCTV systems. The past and the mystery behind what really happened to Kate is eventually solved.
A gripping and mysterious read that will make you laugh, yet also has the ability to feel strangely haunting.
A video and author biographical information is contained in my post on LindyLouMac’s Book Reviews