13 Jan Lost and Found by James Gould-Bourn
Funny, poignant and so uplifting
Forty-two-year old Ronnie has a dilemma – he’s lost his shadow. An irony, considering he’s in charge of the lost property department at the bus depot where he works.
He’s surrounded by umbrellas, hats, scarves and glasses – but there is no sign of his shadow.
Ronnie has lost so much more in life, too – abandoned by his mother as a young child, he was brought up by a loving but clueless father, who, thanks to his own experiences, encouraged him never to trust anyone.
Now his father is dead, and Ronnie is truly friendless.
Will his luck change when he delivers a load of old dog toys from the lost property office to a canine rescue centre?
Somehow Ronnie finds himself in charge of Hamlet, a morose, ugly and unfriendly mutt, who looks like “something the plumber might extract from the clogged drain of the only shower in a crowded student dorm”.
As the two misfits settle into an uneasy alliance, Ronnie gradually discovers that life is better with other creatures in it.
But there is still no sign of his shadow …
What a joy of a story! I loved it from its very opening pages – the loss of the shadow is such an intriguing idea, and an excellent metaphor for the loneliness and isolation of a man facing a bleak future.
Alongside the central metaphor, there is a litany of hilarious similes that made me laugh out loud on every single page. This is a writer who knows how to use words to extract humour and pathos in equal measure.
The odd bunch of people who gradually infiltrate Ronnie’s life are just as skilfully portrayed. There’s Brian who treats his cat like a dog, Cate, who desperately wants to rehome all her canine charges, Harriet, a widow who couldn’t save her husband and now wants to save the world, Mrs Higgins, an elderly neighbour Ronnie has spent his life trying to avoid, his irritating boss Alan – even his doctor who sees patients as a necessary evil, has a part to play in the story.
While there’s bleakness behind the laughter, in the description of Ronnie’s home town of Bingham-on-Sea, where the Ferris wheel rusts eerily by the sands of a once-popular seaside resort; in the very real loneliness of Ronnie and all the other characters; in the heart-aching pathos of his childhood without a mother, this story is never depressing.
Author James Gould-Bourn has pulled off a tricky feat by presenting a masterful exploration of the sad reality of loneliness while keeping the reader laughing all the way through.
A lovely book to start the year and give us all hope that no matter what life throws at us, things will always get better – without a shadow of a doubt!
About the Author
James Gould-Bourn is a novelist and screenwriter from Manchester, England. After several years working for landmine removal organisations in Africa and the Middle East, he decided to enrol on the Faber Academy’s six-month Write a Novel course
Thanks to Tracy of Compulsive Readers for inviting me along on this tour, and to publishers Orion, for an advance copy of this book. Catch up with the rest of the blogtour through the links on the poster.