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And our MARCH Book of the Month is... WHAT WAS LOST by Catherine O'Flynn (discussion 31 March 8pm-10pm)

(83 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 21-Feb-09 14:33:27

In a nail-biting finish, What Was Lost beat This Book Will Save Your Life by just one vote!

We'll be chatting about What Was Lost on Tuesday 31 March from 8pm to 10pm. Hope you can join us!

Don't forget you can order your copy here

And, for anyone who missed out on the vote here were March's book choices and this is how Book Club works.

whistlejacket Tue 31-Mar-09 20:13:47

Yes I agree with Kate's diaries, I really identified with her as I was 10 in 1984 too. I thought her Dad was agood character, shame there wasn't more of him. Lisa and Kurt were good too as was Teresa Stanton - liked the twist of her story. Was great to read about the 'inside world' of a shopping centre, the author thanks a security guard in the acknowledgements so I guess he helped her out with that story. I agree Gavin was a stereotype weirdo but I didn't guess he had something to do with Kate's death - so sad I too was really hoping she'd be found!

DutchOma Tue 31-Mar-09 20:14:51

I thought all the characters were drawn in a very realistic way and I thoroughly enjoyed the book all the way through.

The question I would want to ask the author is:- How come nobody realises that it is Teresa that turns up to Redspoon when St Joseph's haven't submitted her for the exam?
That does not make sense to me at all. The fact that Kate goes back to the shopping centre and comes to grief there is believable, but the fact that a different little girl turns up at Redspoon is not. How would Teresa know that 'she' had passed the exam. Were no questions asked as to what the girl doing the exam looked like?
Sorry rather a lot of questions.

mummycat1 Tue 31-Mar-09 20:16:15

The little girl's presence worked really well - very haunting.

I, too, wanted her to somehow be alright in the end.

She was such a lonely little girl.

The book said something about how prejudiced we are and how we jump too easily to conclusions about people and situations when we don't really know the truth.

The shopping mall setting was very strong and atmospheric. It made me think of Meadowhall and how some people really do just go there everyday.

It's like a big fake world made of plastic, just feeding us with material junk that we don't really need. Just think about the food halls in those places; everything is served in plastic containers and with plastic knives and forks which are all headed to landfill... scary.

Wheelybug Tue 31-Mar-09 20:18:25

i read this in the days surrounding dd2's birth so not sure what i remember (also typing one handed ).

I thought kate was a great character too. I alsothought itwas refreshingly different and lots of really interesting bits like the fact kurt snr had in fact worked at the mall all along. Was quite bizarre that he;d kept this hidden whilst slating it.

Agree about the lovely bones. Better definitely.

DutchOma Tue 31-Mar-09 20:19:54

The lovely bones is by Audrey Niffenegger? I'm reading the Time Treveller's wife at the moment, that the same author isn't it?

missclovis Tue 31-Mar-09 20:20:45

This was the second time I'd read this and I enjoyed it more. It must have taken a lot of nerve to kill off the most interesting character after about 60 pages, especially when the replacements -- Lisa and Kurt -- are so melancholy. I've read some reviews where people have said this book sags in the middle; I found it meandered a bit with a lot of observations about shopping centre life which delayed the pay off.

Did anyone else pick up on Teresa's stepdad's taste for the hot lemon tea drink Lift, and Gavin drinking 7 Up heated in a microwave with a tea bag in it? Was this a clue/red herring/coincidence?

Wheelybug Tue 31-Mar-09 20:21:26

no somewone else Dutchoma ... name escapes me at mo.

janeite Tue 31-Mar-09 20:21:54

The first 40 pages or so were absolutely brilliant, some of the best writing I've read in a long time (and I read A LOT!). The voice of Kate was so strong and so well developed and so credible and she really just pulled me in and intrigued me. I wanted to read more of her diary extracts as they were funny and touching and clever and true all at once - really, really impressive.

Unfortunately much of the rest of it left me cold. The little scenes in the shops, although quite amusing, felt like padding. The ending was silly and anti-climatic and overly convenient.

It would have been much better as a short story.

Will deffo read her next one though to see what direction this obviously talented
writer might go in next.

mollythetortoise Tue 31-Mar-09 20:24:01

i loved it too. i laughed out loud quite alot especially at Kate's view on the criminal intent of some of her neighbour and the shoppers. I didn't want to leave her story either. I thought the shopping centre bits were very accurate. the zombie shoppers.. Green oaks reminded me of Brent Cross. I enjoyed Dan's rants in Your music. I suspect alot of old school music store employees are like him. I was pleased that it didn't end up being a peadophile killer as I thought it was heading that way. But i did think ending slightly wierd and sad for kate and would gavin really be that keen for the shopping centre to be successful that he would allow a child to die for it? I'm not sure. Are there really entombed children all over europe?? Did people really think that brought prosperity. I couldn't get the image of a crying child being given an apple when entombing her out of my mind afterwards. Actually, could you ask Catherine, if that story is true? Overall, a great read and very enjoyable book.

spursmummy Tue 31-Mar-09 20:24:14

I really liked it and read it in two days flat, despite working full-time and having dd and dh to look after!. She really captured the melancholy of shopping centres well (I don't mind some of them, but they are pretty soulless).

I just wish I'd been a bit more disciplined and not read it so early in the month, as I've not had a chance to re-read it since and can't remember all the little details that I really liked!

whistlejacket Tue 31-Mar-09 20:27:15

DutchOma I think Kate got away with pretending to be Teresa at the exam because she hadn't been pre-registered and no one there would no who she was. However I don't understand why Teresa didn't own up that this happened so Adrian didn't get the blame for Kate's disappearance - especially when she was the DCI!

I liked the description of the music store job, although funny I thought at times that it had a slight echo of bitterness from the author's personal experience. It was a bit too cutting.

strawberrylace Tue 31-Mar-09 20:29:55

Nearly missed tonight! I liked this book - loved the spot on stuff about being a child in the 80s. But I thought the ending felt a bit contrived

TillyBookClub Tue 31-Mar-09 20:30:23

The shopping centre does have a massive presence, that soulless feeling you get from those industrial landscapes. The fact that everyone is changed by it. I think the weirdest part is that it is full of bored people who are then being watched by other bored people on CCTV screens.

DutchOma, I thought that plot twist about the entrance exam was quit tricky too. I guess Kate put her address on it, and as there was no face to face interview, they wouldn't know who was who?

Record store stuff was brilliant, I agree. The author worked in a music store - you can tell it is authentic research, can't you, the descriptions of customers are spot on.

I watched an interview with the author and she said the security guard told her a story about spotting a girl on the TV cameras who they never found. She got obsessed by it and started to think of what happened.

There is so much loss in the book, everyone has lost someone. And the shopping centre seemed to sum up that loss most of all - that we've all lost our way. If I had to choose one word to describe the book it would be poignant.

strawberrylace Tue 31-Mar-09 20:31:49

the lovely bones is by alice sebold

simnel303 Tue 31-Mar-09 20:33:26

I agree that the evocation of the mall was very good, though I'm not sure I understood the miles of service corridors - do these places really have miles of corridors? I was also a child in the 80s, well teenager, so a lot did seem familiar.

missclovis I missed the lemon drink references, well spotted. Or could it be that Lift and 7Up were practically the only drinks available back then? grin

TillyBookClub Tue 31-Mar-09 20:37:52

DutchOma, forgot to add, Lovely Bones is by Alice Sebold.

missclovis, you are a born detective - I never picked up on that clue. Like Kate, we should know better than to believe in coincidences...

The ending was definitely problematic. Perhaps it was because Kate was a ghost by that stage, and any explanation of her death feels like an awkward back-paddling?

whistlejacket Tue 31-Mar-09 20:40:59

Did anyone else get shivers down their spine when Kurt spots Kate on CCTV? That bit was really well done I thought - very creepy! Tillybookclub I agree with the sense of loss and that makes the Lisa-Kurt romance more welcome because something positive has come out of the story.

I was really hoping Kate would be found as a slightly mad, wild-haired semi-feral woman stalking the service corridors!

simnel303 Tue 31-Mar-09 20:41:22

I did not like the ending at all and read the last pages with disbelief. I felt like crying when Catherine described Kate's little foot hovering on the ladder and she fell. So even though pretty unbelieveable, still emotional.

simnel303 Tue 31-Mar-09 20:42:54

I too was glad of something positive ie the romance especially as both my favourite characters died

TillyBookClub Tue 31-Mar-09 20:43:40

Do we think Adrian killed himself because he couldn't face being a suspect on the run? Or because he was traumatised by Kate's disappearance? I wondered why he didn't fight harder to plead his innocence, especially if Theresa was on his side.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 31-Mar-09 20:47:36

Hi everyone <rushes in late>

I loved reading this book but was overcome with melacholy once I'd finished it.

Thinking about it and all the people in it who'd had such dreams and then seen them all come to nothing made me very sad.

DutchOma Tue 31-Mar-09 20:48:38

I still don't buy it.
So Kate sits the exam and puts Teresa's name on it. No doubt she does brilliantly, Redspoon sends a message to St Joseh's saying "Teresa has gained a place at Redspoon". What?? says St Joseph's, we didn't put Teresa in, it was Kate Meany, who has disappeared. No questions are asked, Adrian gets charged with her disappearance and so on. It is so, so unlikely, even given the chaos surrounding the exam at Redspoon.

whistlejacket Tue 31-Mar-09 20:50:54

I think Adrian killed himself because for as long as Kate's death was unsolved he'd be branded a child killer and pervert and be vulnerable to vigilantes if he lived locally. But you could tell he really wanted to come home when he turned up in his Dad's shop, so sad. Added to that he must have been very upset at Kate's disappearance too. I can understand why he did it but I was sad he died too.

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 31-Mar-09 20:51:28

DutchOma: I don't think the school was involved in sending Kate to the exam. It was her Granny, wasn't it?
So they must have sent the letter offering the place to the child's home...

DutchOma Tue 31-Mar-09 20:55:56

So Kate puts Teresa's address on it? Even though Teresa has always been very cagey about her home environment? And just manages to get all the uniform together for a private school and nobody notices?
Did she herself not ask questions, knowing that Kate had disappeared and she knew that she had not sat that exam?
I realise that at that time she was a ten year old girl and not a Detective Inspector, but still...

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