On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.
Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death in an earthquake, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realise that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his dad, is slipping away from him.
Of Things Gone Astray is a magical fable about modern life and values. Perfect for fans of Andrew Kaufman and Cecelia Ahern.
The first thing that drew me to this book was that gorgeous cover. The synopsis sounded pretty great too, but this was absolutely a case of choosing a book based on its cover.
To try and describe this book is going to be incredibly difficult. It’s one of those books that needs to be read to be understood. It follows a number of characters who have lost something, the focus rotates between them for each chapter. The chapters are short, some less than a page long, each giving us another little glimpse into the character and their life since they lost whatever it is that is dear to them.
The things that each character have lost vary from physical objects to less tangible things – skills, feelings, purposes. The more we get to know the character the more we understand why they might have lost this, why it was so important to them and what its loss means to them. This made the book a captivating read for me, I love trying to understand characters (and people for that matter) and so this book appealed to the part of my brain that loves nothing more than to try and unpick someone’s make up.
The different characters’ stories do intertwine a little, the author manages this in such a way that it doesn’t feel forced or overly convenient. I enjoyed each and every character, I’d have to pick Mrs Featherby as my favourite I think. There are perhaps other characters whose stories are more obviously interesting, but she’s the one I wanted to keep delving deeper with.
Of Things Gone Astray is an impressive book, made all the more impressive by the fact it’s a debut novel. On the basis of this book I suspect we may be seeing quite a bit more of Janina Matthewson over the next few years.
Of Things Gone Astray is published by The Friday Project in the UK. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.