April 10, 2009

The Room of Lost Things - Stella Duffy

I first read/heard about The Room of Lost Things over at Dove Grey Reader and it has taken me a little while to track down a copy of the book in Australia but I finally managed to find it in a trip to Sydney for work this past week - and I am so glad I did.

The Room of Lost Things is essentially a portrait of a specific area of London and the characters/people that live and work there. I have only been to London once (a sad fact I plan to rectify when I visit there again in September) and then it was really only a quick stop over, a browse through some tourist areas and then on to our next destination. But I know deep down that London is a city for me - I would love to live there one day. The London portrayed in Stella Duffy's book is the modern day south London an area described by one reviewer on the back cover of the book as "a part of London usually demonised as home to muggings, shootings and feral gangs".

The two main characters in the novel are Robert, a man in his 60's reflecting back on his life as her prepares to sell his dry cleaning business to Akeel, a young, married Muslim man just starting out in life after finishing his university degree.

Through the, at first, tentative interactions between Robert and Akeel we start to learn a little about their dreams and secret lives as we are also introduced to the various residents of the area who are customers of the dry cleaning business.

The main and outlying stories build beautifully, and in some cases painfully. I started to build up a concrete picture in my mind of this area and the people who lived there - I was enjoying the visit and really didn't want to story to end. But it does end - in a wonderful way I thought. I will definitely be looking out for more of Stella Duffy's work - and would love to hear other reading recommendations for great books set in modern day London.


Anonymous said...

Like yourself, I read about this on DGR scribbles and now want to read it. I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.

Karen said...

Hi adevotedreader - I hope you do too. I've been getting some great recommendations from DGR. Have just started The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and am loving it already.

Anonymous said...

I'm yet to read this book - it sounds very good.

As an expat Aussie who lives in London, I enjoy reading books set in London, but most of the ones I have read are historical.

Modern day books set in London that I can recommend are: Rose Tremain's "The Road Home"; Warwick Collins' "Gents"; Lionel Shriver's "Post Birthday World" and Ian McEwan's "Saturday".

I have a category for books set in London on my blog, which you can find here: http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/theme_london/

Molly said...

This sounds like a great book that I would like to read sometime. I did a quick search online, but I am not sure it is available in the states yet (will have to investigate further).

I, too, would love to live in London sometime - for at least 6 months. I have visited that city twice before with student excursions - and have fallen in love.

Danielle said...

I've visited London a couple of times as well and could easily (and happily ) live there! I'd heard of this book but wasn't sure what it was about, but now I'll ahve to add it to my list!

Lisa said...

Sadly, I've never visited London, but hopefully, I will one day. I also picked this up after reading about it on DGR's blog.

Karen said...

Hi kimbofo - thanks for those great suggestions. I have heard of them all but have not read any of them as yet so I will add them to my list.

Hi Molly - I know what you mean about London, even though I have only been there for a short time and seen such a small part of it I know I would love to be there for longer.

Hi Danielle - I would definitely add this one to your list. It's a real character book I found - London being the primary character in some ways.

Hi Lisa - I hope you get to London one day too!

Savidge Reads said...

I am a huge fan of Stella Duffy's work and read this last year and re-read it again a week or so ago. It's a wonderful book and I recommend people give all her stuff a go.

Karen said...

Hi Savidge Reads - I will look forward to re-reading this one in the future - I'm glad I have discovered this author!

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