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The Secret of Lost Things

by

The Secret of Lost Things Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A missing manuscript

A young woman's voyage of discovery

And the curious bookshop where it all begins...

In this charming novel about the eccentricities and passions of booksellers and collectors, a captivating young Australian woman takes a job at a vast, chaotic emporium of used and rare books in New York City and finds herself caught up in the search for a lost Melville manuscript.

Eighteen years old and completely alone, Rosemary arrives in New York from Tasmania with little more than her love of books and an eagerness to explore the city she's read so much about. She begins her memorable search for independence with appealing enthusiasm, and the moment she steps into the Arcade bookstore, she knows she has found a home. The gruff owner, Mr. Pike, gives her a job sorting through huge piles of books and helping the rest of the staff — a group as odd and idiosyncratic as the characters in a Dickens novel. There's Pearl, the loving, motherly transsexual who runs the cash register; Oscar, who organizes the nonfiction section and shares his extensive, eclectic knowledge with Rosemary, but furiously rejects her attempts at a more personal relationship; and Arthur Pick, who supervises the art section and demonstrates a particular interest in photography books featuring naked men.

The store manager, Walter Geist, is an albino, a lonely figure even within the world of the Arcade. When Walter's eyesight begins to fail, Rosemary becomes his assistant. And so it is Rosemary who first reads the letter from someone seeking to "place" a lost manuscript by Herman Melville. Mentioned in Melville's personal correspondence but never published, the work is of inestimable value, and proof of its existence brings the simmering ambitions and rivalries of the Arcade staff to a boiling point.

Including actual correspondence by Melville, The Secret of Lost Things is at once a literary adventure that captures the excitement of discovering a long-lost manuscript by a towering American writer and an evocative portrait of life in a surprisingly colorful bookstore.

Review:

"Hay's debut has all the elements of a literary thriller, but they don't quite come together. Ariving in New York from Tasmania with $300, her mother's ashes and a love of reading, 18-year-old Rosemary Savage finds work in the Arcade Bookshop, a huge, labyrinthine place that features everything from overstock to rare books. In its physicality, the store greatly resembles New York's Strand (where Hay worked), and its requisite assortment of intriguing bookish oddballs includes autocratic owner George Pike and his albino assistant, Walter Geist. Rosemary is suspicious and worried when Walter enlists Rosemary's help to respond to an anonymous request to sell a hand-written version of Herman Melville's lost Isle of the Cross (a novel that in fact existed but disappeared after Melville's publisher rejected it). She confides in Oscar (the attractive, emotionally unavailable nonfiction specialist), which only hastens the deal's momentum toward disaster. Hay does a good job with innocent, intelligent Rosemary's attempts to deal with sinister doings, and methodically imagines the evolution and content of Melville's novel (which features a woman abandoned much like Rosemary's mother). Hay also ably captures Rosemary's nostalgic memories of Tasmania. The three narratives-intrigue, Melville, Tasmania-prove so different, however, that recurring themes of loss and abandonment fail to tie them together." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"An uneasy blend of mystery, love story and literary history, Sheridan Hay's first novel aspires to the sophistication of scholarly romances such as A.S. Byatt's 'Possession' (1990) or Martha Cooley's 'The Archivist' (1998). Like Hay's, those genre-mixing novels played at merging far-flung elements — the past with the present, fiction with fact, contemporary researchers with long-buried texts of dead... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"A tribute to the book-obsessed that's unfortunately cast with stereotypes." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Book lovers will enjoy the subtle literary threads." Charlotte Observer

Review:

"The Secret of Lost Things as a whole does not equal its too-separate parts." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"[T]he best way for a novelist to celebrate books is to write a good one. And The Secret of Lost Things is just that." New York Times

Review:

"There are...almost no characters in Hay's novel who could be considered normal or ordinary, but somehow all this collective weirdness works; it's a memorable debut." Seattle Times

Review:

"Those who love to read about books will enjoy Hay's delicate style, laced as it is with literary parallels and lightly spiced with intrigue." Providence Journal

Synopsis:

Eighteen years old and completely alone, Rosemary arrives in New York from Tasmania with little other than her love of books and an eagerness to explore the city. Taking a job at a vast, chaotic emporium of used and rare books called the Arcade, she knows she has found a home. But when Rosemary reads a letter from someone seeking to “place” a lost manuscript by Herman Melville, the bookstore erupts with simmering ambitions and rivalries. Including actual correspondence by Melville, The Secret of Lost Things is at once a literary adventure and evocative portrait of a young woman making a life for herself in the city.

About the Author

Sheridan Hay worked in bookstores and in trade publishing both in her native Australia and in New York. She holds an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington, and has lived in New York for twenty years.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

natalierae, October 26, 2008 (view all comments by natalierae)
Hay does a wonderful job of weaving historical fiction into a story set in modern New York. The well-developed characters inspire contempt then sympathy. Though, the characters are such unique personalities that they can be difficult to relate to.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307277336
Author:
Sheridan Hay
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Employees
Subject:
Booksellers and bookselling
Subject:
Bildungsroman.
Subject:
Melville, Herman
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20080331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
7.96x5.28x.80 in. .60 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Secret of Lost Things New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.95 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Random House - English 9780307277336 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Hay's debut has all the elements of a literary thriller, but they don't quite come together. Ariving in New York from Tasmania with $300, her mother's ashes and a love of reading, 18-year-old Rosemary Savage finds work in the Arcade Bookshop, a huge, labyrinthine place that features everything from overstock to rare books. In its physicality, the store greatly resembles New York's Strand (where Hay worked), and its requisite assortment of intriguing bookish oddballs includes autocratic owner George Pike and his albino assistant, Walter Geist. Rosemary is suspicious and worried when Walter enlists Rosemary's help to respond to an anonymous request to sell a hand-written version of Herman Melville's lost Isle of the Cross (a novel that in fact existed but disappeared after Melville's publisher rejected it). She confides in Oscar (the attractive, emotionally unavailable nonfiction specialist), which only hastens the deal's momentum toward disaster. Hay does a good job with innocent, intelligent Rosemary's attempts to deal with sinister doings, and methodically imagines the evolution and content of Melville's novel (which features a woman abandoned much like Rosemary's mother). Hay also ably captures Rosemary's nostalgic memories of Tasmania. The three narratives-intrigue, Melville, Tasmania-prove so different, however, that recurring themes of loss and abandonment fail to tie them together." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A tribute to the book-obsessed that's unfortunately cast with stereotypes."
"Review" by , "Book lovers will enjoy the subtle literary threads."
"Review" by , "The Secret of Lost Things as a whole does not equal its too-separate parts."
"Review" by , "[T]he best way for a novelist to celebrate books is to write a good one. And The Secret of Lost Things is just that."
"Review" by , "There are...almost no characters in Hay's novel who could be considered normal or ordinary, but somehow all this collective weirdness works; it's a memorable debut."
"Review" by , "Those who love to read about books will enjoy Hay's delicate style, laced as it is with literary parallels and lightly spiced with intrigue."
"Synopsis" by , Eighteen years old and completely alone, Rosemary arrives in New York from Tasmania with little other than her love of books and an eagerness to explore the city. Taking a job at a vast, chaotic emporium of used and rare books called the Arcade, she knows she has found a home. But when Rosemary reads a letter from someone seeking to “place” a lost manuscript by Herman Melville, the bookstore erupts with simmering ambitions and rivalries. Including actual correspondence by Melville, The Secret of Lost Things is at once a literary adventure and evocative portrait of a young woman making a life for herself in the city.
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