Reviewed by Susan Lobban
LOST – One wife, last seen on hospital death bed.
LOST – One normal life, last seen goodness knows when!
Millie, Karl and Agatha are unlikely companions, who find each other through their individual sense of loss. They set off an unexpected journey to find Millie’s mum, but discover a lot more along the way.
Millie is the first character we meet and at first she seems like any other little girl hiding in among the clothes rails, whilst her mum shops. However, very quickly you realise (even before Millie), that as her mother walks further and further out of her daughter’s line of vision, she does not intend to come back. From this moment on we follow Millie through her heartbreaking yet funny time alone. Brooke Davis sets the tone just right and had me really feeling sorry for Millie, but then laughing out loud at her inner thoughts and memories, too. I thought the little notes Millie left her mum so she could be found again an incredibly realistic and tender touch.
Karl is grieving for his wife and longs to touch type on her arm just once more. He has escaped from a nursing home and has found refuge in a department store. Both him and Millie are invisible amongst the hustle and bustle of shoppers, until one day they aren’t. Both must face the big, bad world outside the shop doors. Similar to my first impressions of Millie, my heart broke reading about Karl, the lonely touch typist, who no longer has a purpose. Funnily enough though, throughout reading, I often forgot that Karl was elderly as his youthful and exuberant side was unleashed once more upon meeting Millie.
Last but by no means least we meet Agatha, but this time despite being a hermit by choice after her husband’s death, she just cracked me up. Who wouldn’t love to shout out exactly what you think all the time? Her comments about sex especially had me in hysterics. When her and Millie’s lives intersect I did wonder what use the old woman would be to the young girl, but I was impressed with her take-charge attitude, which came out of nowhere. In some ways, I could even imagine that Millie would aspire to be like Agatha when she was older.
Even though I love to immerse myself in a book, it is rare that I cry or laugh while reading, so when I find one that makes me do either it means a lot. I did not cry, but I could not help myself laughing at the escapades of this trio. The only place I thought the story fell down, unfortunately, was the end. I felt it was too rushed and did not fit in with the natural pace that preceded it. However, that aside, this is a fantastic debut, which was hard to put down. The author has managed to write a touching and heartwarming tale, which will melt even the hardest of hearts.