Friday, January 29, 2010

THE SECRET OF LOST THINGS - Sheridan Hay

Rebecca read The Secret of Lost Things - Sheridan Hay (twice)

This strange book by Sheridan Hay is a wonderful read. Yes, I read it twice, once for myself and once with my Adams Central Adult Literati group. Again several people I know didn't like it! Oh my, I must be insane but I loved it. After I confess that I bought it for the beautiful cover art, I will say that as I read it I wanted to be Rosemary. I wish that I could have been the kind of young girl that could walk into a bookstore and tell the manager, "I must work here," and walk away with the job! 

Set in the early 70s, at 18 Rosemary fulfills her childhood dream of going to NYC (from her home in Tasmania). She is spunky yet naive and a delightful character. Most of the book takes place in a bookstore called The Arcade which is a thinly disguised representation of The Strand in NYC. The plot line involves unusual and colorful characters who all work in The Arcade, and a missing Melville manuscript. My friend Paula and I both read it right before we took a trip to NYC. It was so much fun to examine the Strand while imagining the scenes that had taken place in the store. We traveled the elevator up so we could get a whiff of the glue in the rare book room, figured out where the restroom was that the manuscript got lost in, and went to the basement looking for the stool in the poetry section. 

There is even a picture gallery in the Strand of long ago scenes of the store enabling Paula and me to well imagine near-blind albino Geist hovering among the stacks, the beautiful Oscar leaving open poetry books about, Mr. Mitchel expounding on the value of books, or Bruno tossing out the occasional shoplifter. There is infatuation, mystery, and great character development in this book. We had a great discussion at book group and about half there really appreciated it while the rest thought it was just OK. I must say though that most of my high school students don't stick with it. 

I am wondering what most who have read it think - was there a real manuscript or was it a ruse to extort money from Geist all along, and was Oscar in on the crime from the beginning?

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