What Was Lost – Catherine O’Flynn

‘What Was Lost’ was long listed for the Booker Prize in 2007, and won the 2007 Guardian First Book award.

The story begins in 1984, and is seen through the eyes of Kate Meaney, a ten year old girl who has set herself up as a detective agency with her pet monkey, Mickey. It continues 20 years later, when we discover that Kate went missing, and her disappearance is re-investigated by the few people who were close to her.

Kate’s section was completely absorbing. It took me right back to my childhood. I can remember being a ten year old girl, having the same sort of thoughts as her, and being obsessed with stationery too! It was amusing, well observed and quite moving in places.

The rest of the book wasn’t as good. The characters were flat, formulaic and not as accurately observed. The plot moved along at a fair pace, but I was craving the return of Kate for all the sections based in 2004. I was rewarded with a brief glimpse of her at the end, and was quite satisfied with the way it finished, but wish that Catherine O’Flynn had based the whole book on Kate’s life, as she was such an interesting character.

I look forward to reading more books by the author in the future, but hope the characters are as realistic as Kate’s.

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  1. I didn’t really enjoy this book – quite agree with your review, unfortunately. In fact, I didn’t really like the way the book ended either.

    However, I did think Kate was wonderfully drawn, and the opening section of the book was by far one of the best I’ve stumbled upon.

    1. Jackie says:

      I’m sorry you didn’t like the ending – I thought that made up for a lot of the poor middle section.

      I look forward to reading her next book though – she does have a lot of talent.

  2. Bina says:

    I agree that Kate was the best part of the book, however I really enjoyed the rest of the story as well. Quite impressive for a first novel.

    1. Jackie says:

      Bina, It was an impressive 1st novel – she has a new one out this year and I am looking forward to reading it.


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