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Monday, 25 February 2008
What Was Lost
by Catherine O'Flynn
What Was Lost was something of a literary sensation in 2007. A much-rejected first novel from a small indie publisher, Tindal Street Press, it won the Costa First Novel award and was long-listed for the Man Booker prize.
The novel centres around the mystery of a lost child, missing for 20 years. In the first part of the novel O'Flynn paints a touching portrait of Kate Meaney, a clever and lonely child engrossed in solitary detective activities with her toy monkey. The novel then moves to the present and revolves around the Green Oaks Shopping centre, where record shop manager Lisa and security guard Kurt are both drawn to try to solve the mystery of Kate's disappearance. The writer has managed to capture the life of a large shopping centre and the characters who work and shop there very convincingly, with plenty of period and regional detail.
What was Lost is not a long book and some critics have described it as a young adult crossover novel. The writing is consistently good, particularly in the first section about Kate, which makes it a quick and enjoyable read, though I didn't quite see it as a Booker winner.
reviewed by Catherine Walter