Thursday, April 05, 2007

Book Review: "The Secret of Lost Things"

Sheridan Hay's The Secret of Lost Things (Doubleday, 2006) is a novel designed for the bibliophile in all of us. Set primarily in a large New York City bookstore (modeled not-so-loosely on the sprawling Strand), with a key plot thread revolving around a lost Melville novel, Hay's debut offers some very interesting potential, which sadly goes largely unfulfilled.

The narrator, a young Tasmanian emigre named Rosemary Savage, comes to New York and finds employment at the Arcade, a bookstore filled with characters who would be interesting if they weren't so stereotypical: the imperious, domineering owner, odd albino manager, transsexual cashier, garrulous rare book guru ... you get the idea. Rosemary's youth and inexperience are put to the test over the course of a few months on the job as she finds herself drawn into an odd quest for knowledge, love, and acceptance (not all from the same people or at the same time).

Hay's premise is an interesting one, and the book held my interest throughout; I just kept hoping it would all come together in the end, and was disappointed when it did not.