The Room of Lost Things, Stella Duffy
This is cheating a bit, maybe. I grew up in London, which is too big to choose as a hometown, really, so probably I should choose a book set in my borough. But that’s more difficult than it seems, when so many novels forget that south London exists at all: there are countless books set in the rich houses of the west, the alleyways of gritty east, always north of the river, but the south, not so much. My part of the south, hardly ever. So it’s a treat to find a book that really talks about the places I know, places within a single bus ride.
The Room of Lost Things is set in and around Loughborough Junction, a part of south London hemmed in by railway lines and housing estates, a community that looks so much like my own. It threads so many stories together, loops them into and out of each other in the way that people’s lives do, that discovery that seemingly unconnected people, in fact, live near each other, or are related, or work together – or did once – or see each other now and then for whatever reason.
It feels so real to me. Like I could know any one of these people, be part of those stories, or could hear them from other people. It’s smart and funny and heart-breaking. One part made me wince so much that I had to stop reading for a bit (much to the alarm of the person sitting opposite me on the train!). I immediately gave it to my mum, who loved it, too, which is pretty rare for us, these days. In a year or so, I’d like to read it again. It’s special.
So it’s not cheating at all, really.
(Read this, too)
Other categories that The Room Of Lost Things fits into: a book by a female author, a book that made you cry, a book set during Christmas (kind of, a bit, at least Christmas happens)