A beautiful, heartwarming story, simply told and all the more moving for it.
I was intrigued by this book, mainly because I wasn't sure what to expect. Would I be plunged into the depths of chick-lit? Was it a sad story? A cheery, lighthearted tome? What was it all about? I'm pleased to report it was, in some ways, all of those things - and in others, none of them at all.
Laura is a housekeeper / cleaner at Anthony's house, Padua. She loves her job, and she's fond of Anthony too, though feels sorry for him, due to his obvious continued grief for his dead wife, Therese.
Suddenly, Anthony dies, and leaves the entire house to her; along with a weighty responsibility. Over the years, he's collected lost things, giving them each a story. He's given Laura the task of delivering them back to their owners.
With the help of Freddy the gardener and Sunshine, a local girl with Down's syndrome, Laura sets off on a mission to reunite the belongings with the right people, whilst also dealing with a ghost who's looking for something that belongs to her...
Sound like a rather quirky premise? That's because it was, and that's what was so lovely about it. The entire story is built on this rather crazy notion, but actually, it's a rich exploration of loss - loss of people and of possessions. I loved author's simple, forthright manner of writing; this ensured that the book remained genuinely touching and believable throughout, without sliding into syrupy sentimentality.
I also adored the characters; prickly, defensive Laura who's been hurt in the past, Sunshine with her determination and optimism (her eulogy for Anthony was a fabulous blend of religious sermon and cultural reference after cultural reference - I want similar at my funeral service!), and the adorable Bomber and Eunice, who form the other narrative thread in this book.
It's a warm, wonderfully likeable story, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.