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It is not surprising that "What Was Lost," Ms. O'Flynn's debut novel, was a stand-out among its peers in the year of its release, winning the First Novel Award at the 2007 Costa Book Awards and shortlisted for the overall Costa Book of the Year award. This book was also long-listed for the 2007 Man Booker Prize AND the Orange Prize for fiction, and again shortlisted for the Guardian first-book award- plus being a BBC Radio 5 Book of the Month...
I say all this because I think readers should know that this book was so well received critically, but somehow, sadly, was either underrated among us normal readers or not really visible to readers when it was released. Because What Was Lost is truly so wonderfully good. It is also beautifully narrated by Catherine Skinner. She brings these characters right to life and puts so much feeling into their stories. It is an incredible skill to be able to portray so many personalities at so many emotional stages, not to mention different ages and genders.
One can read the plot summary here on Audible or on Amazon. It gives you the basic plot but the book is so much more. Beautifully written, it has subtext, it is haunting, and you will want to re-listen to catch what you may have missed the first time around. There is a sad irony in the story of Kate Meany. I read one summary on a blog that said "Kate pretends to be a detective." I can't think of a worse way to characterize this girl! Kate doesn't pretend. To this 10 year old girl, she IS a detective. One must be able to empathize here with the mind of a child- Kate is a precocious but lonely kid who watched American cop shows with her dad when she was little. Right before he died, her dad gave her a book called "How to be a Detective." Well, it soon becomes Kate's bible and a symbol of what she wants to achieve for her father. But as you read, you learn that Kate's surveillance work has such a sweet naïveté that will eventually put her in great danger. If she were pretending...well, she would know if she sensed danger, when to stop.
This book is short but it's not breezy, in my opinion. It will stick with you. There are metaphors to think about. How the past meets the present and how someone's actions or failure to act 20 years ago may have changed things drastically...but was it supposed to be different? Ultimately, the reader is given the chance to think, and that, to me, is what makes a book excellent. I highly recommend What Was Lost. Thank you to the author for writing such a beautiful novel.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
You "think" you know where this book is headed, but the real shock occurs just short of halfway through the text. Keep going until you hit the middle, and brace yourself for a page turner from that part onward. Clever twist on the mystery genre--with clear writing and narration.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful