I love books in general, but I really love beautiful books, books where the designer has actually thought about what the story is saying rather than just bish, bash, bosh, get it on the shelves. Bearing this in mind, I was thrilled to receive Lost and Found by Tom Winter and find that it is just my kind of beautiful book.
As you can see, the cover really reflects what’s going on inside the book – the two lonely, isolated figures connected only by the letters that she is sending, but look closer and you’ll see the edges of the book have the same markings as an airmail envelope. Then look inside, not to the first page, but to the inside cover, which is decorated in the same way as the inside of an airmail envelope (please note by the time I got this far I was practically clapping my hands in glee). It’s these little details that add so much to a reading experience and – while I love my Kindle – you just don’t get that with an ebook.
So, if you’ll excuse my rhapsodising over the book’s cover, perhaps you’d like to know a little about what’s in it…
Carol is in a marriage that she now realises was a mistake and has a daughter that she just doesn’t understand. After finally deciding to leave her husband, he breaks his own news that he may have cancer, thus trapping her one again. Carol’s friend suggests that she saves money on a therapist and instead writes a letter to the universe. No-one ever has to read it, but knowing that it’s out there will help Carol work out what she wants and needs to do.
Little does Carol realise that her letters will be read, by Albert, a widowed postman who is coming to his retirement age with only a cat and an obnoxious neighbour for company. Carol’s letter, arriving with a smiley face instead of an address, give Albert a new window on the world and he approaches each day with the hope of the next letter.
I tend to read a lot of crime fiction, so it was nice to read something gentle for a change, something with a bit of heart to it. The only thing I did miss while reading the book was the ‘highlight’ function from the Kindle as Tom Winter makes some really witty and wry remarks while writing Carol. Her thoughts on her suburban world and her neighbours are cutting, but things I think we’ve all thought once in a while! The interesting thing about the book is that both Carol and Albert are plain and fairly uninteresting in themselves, but Albert’s reaction to the letters and the way Carol changes through writing them give the novel its focus.
This book is Tom Winter’s debut novel and it deserves unreserved praise for its emotional depth, sometimes hilarious turn of phrase and very, very satisfying conclusion.