In many ways, my life has been rather like a record of the lost and found. Perhaps all lives are like that.
It’s when life started in earnest
The paths of Tom and Alice collide against a haze of youthful, carefree exuberance. And so begins a love story that finds its feet by a lake one silvery moonlit evening . . .
It’s when there were no happy endings
Alice is living in the City of Light, but the pain of the last decade has already left its mark. There’s a shadow creeping across Europe when she and Thomas Stafford – now a world famous artist – find each other once more . . .
It’s when the story begins
Bequeathed an old portrait from her grandmother, Kate Darling uncovers a legacy that takes her to Corsica, Paris and beyond. And as the secrets of time fall away, a love story as epic as it is life-changing slowly reveals itself . . .
It’s not very often that your very first blog post of a new year (Happy New Year to all!) starts with “I think I might have found one of my books of the year”. But I did tell you a little bit about it in my Books of the Year 2014 post, and what better book with which to start than The Book of Lost and Found, the wonderful debut novel by Lucy Foley, due for publication on 15 January by HarperCollins. The moment I stumbled across this book (a mention on Twitter) I just had to read it – I never normally pursue a review copy of a book (thank you to the HarperCollins Publicity!) but it sounded just perfect. And it really is… quite perfect.
First of all, it’s a quite excellent story – comfortably spanning three separate timeframes in the telling, moving between them quite seamlessly, as the links between the stories slowly and cleverly emerge. It has the wonderful strong female characters I love in both Alice (particularly Alice) and Kate – characters with complexity and depth, characters that you grow to love. The supporting cast is excellent too – Thomas Stafford is thoroughly fascinating, and is rightly at the centre of the book while the female characters grow in strength. It’s well researched, with a depth of historical detail that’s effortlessly used in the story’s telling: the settings are vividly described, wholly appropriately when Tom is an artist and Kate a photographer, and spring to life as you read.
The love story at the book’s heart is beautifully told – wholly convincing, all consuming, and thoroughly gripping. And the writing is really, really excellent – flowing and beautifully readable – making the book a page turner from the opening pages, where Tom is uncomfortable amid all the bright young things at a 1920s party, to the perfect epilogue. Add to all that the quite gorgeous cover – as a Kindle reader I’m rarely struck by such things, and so glad I read a paper copy – I’m not sure what else you could possibly ask for in a book.
The publicity for this book says “sweeping and heartrending – the perfect read for fans of Victoria Hislop and Kate Morton”. I wouldn’t argue with that – those authors are two of my personal favourites. There was something about it that reminded me of Deborah Lawrenson too – particularly Songs of Blue and Gold – and perhaps a little of Lucinda Riley. But Lucy Foley has a style all of her own, and this is an exceptional first novel – I can’t wait to see what she does next. Whatever you do, don’t miss this one.
Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities. She then worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she also wrote The Book of Lost and Found. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling (for research, naturally!) and working on her next novel. Visit her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.