Publication Date: August 25, 2015
In many ways my life has been rather like a record of the lost and found. Perhaps all lives are like that . . .
LONDON, 1986: Bequeathed an old portrait by her grandmother, Kate Darling begins to unpick the tapestry of her family’s secret history in a journey that takes her to Corsica, Paris and back to the heady days of the Roaring Twenties where it all began.
PARIS, 1939: Alice Eversley and Thomas Stafford meet once again in the City of Light. Tom is now a world-famous artist, Alice is much-changed too – bruised from the events of the last decade. Perhaps they can lose themselves in the love story that ignited by a moonlit lake all those years ago?
But sometimes there’s no place for happy endings – and there’s no hiding from the shadow of war . . .
I think the reason why I’m drawn to novels with narratives that alternate from present to the past, is that past becomes more haunting, more unforgettable through the prism of the present. The Book of Lost and Found employs this narrative structure. Kate is in the present and through a mysterious portrait found among her grandmother's effects, undertakes a journey to the past which uncovers her mother’s mysterious origins. Kate has her own plotline, but as is the usual with me, I was more taken with the figures of the past, especially of the enigmatic Alice, the woman depicted in the portrait. From pre-war England to wartorn Paris, and idyllic Corsica, The Book of Lost and Found traces the fate and whereabouts of Alice, who begins life as an aristocrat and experiences danger and suffering as she tries to find her purpose in the world.
“I can tell what it is you want, Kate. You want a love story. But you see, I’ve given you a love story. It just doesn’t all work out the way one might have written it.”
The Book of Lost and Found is the kind of compulsively readable story that will sweep you up and take you away to another era.
Lucy Foley worked as an editor at Hodder and Stoughton in the UK. She holds an MA in modern fiction from University College London.