I thoroughly enjoyed Lost and Found, by Tom Winter.
Carol, a woman in her late thirties, is assessing her happiness. She wants to make changes but is fearful. Her best friend suggests she writes a letter to the universe, asking for what she really wants. She posts the letter, with no destination or return address, so it ends up in the dead letters office. Alfred, a near-retired postman is assigned the dead letter office (the irony not lost on him) and he reads Carol’s letters.
The first letter isn’t written until about page 70 but the story doesn’t drag or wane. The characters were all familiar and as I’m a similar age to the main character, am seeing similar challenges in my own and friends’ lives. The first divorces are happening, the first serious illnesses, first parents dying, and the questions that come with this stage of life. All of this is happening to/around me right now, and it was reassuring to know others – even fictional characters – are dealing with the same issues.
Late in the book, Carol is driving her husband to a medical appointment and wonders aloud what everyone is doing and whether they are just going through the motions or are embarking on their own journeys. That we are surrounded by so many people but are more alone than ever.
The author’s writing took my own thoughts and turned them into something special. They way he described Carol’s disintegrating marriage was delightful:
“It’s sort of like… like being on a plane. My love for him is definitely not up in First Class with a glass of champagne and a good book. It’s not even in an exit row in Economy (though I can see that the imagery might be appropriate). My love for him is actually in the middle of a cramped row at the very back of the plane, right next to the toilets. But at least it’s on-board. That’s surely all that matters.
So it’s odd.. although I don’t love LOVE him (in that first-class, leather-seats sort of way) the cancer has reminded me of the things I do love about him. It’s like we’ve sailed through a massive storm together and we somehow survived (Am I confusing you with all this talk of planes and ships? I’m confusing myself) Let’s just say our marriage was a very, very long flight and now the plane has crashed. The fact that I regretted getting on the plane, hated most of the journey, and now find myself in a place I don’t want to be doesn’t seem to matter anymore.
Though I suppose this metaphor doesn’t really make sense because he doesn’t even know the plane’s crashed. As far as he’s concerned,we’ve just hit a spot of turbulence but by tomorrow morning we’ll be having breakfast on the beach. I know everything in life is subjective, but it would be hard for two people on the same flight to experience it THAT differently: one of them buzzing along at 40,000 feet while the other stumbles through smoking wreckage.
Other paragraphs really resonated (What is creativity? What is our obligation in life?) and I literally was capturing images of the pages (as highlighting library books isn’t the done thing).
I genuinely liked all the characters. Alfred’s transformation was brilliant and it seemed the universe answered not only Carol’s letter but those in her sphere.
Rating: 4 stars (check my book review scale)
Book club book October 2016