Friday, 8 July 2016

The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace reviewed by Dawn Finch

Caroline Wallace – The Finding of Martha Lost

First the blurb:

Martha is lost.
She’s been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris. Ever since, she’s waited in station lost property for someone to claim her. It’s been sixteen years, but she’s still hopeful.
In the meantime, there are mysteries to solve: secret tunnels under the station, a suitcase that may have belonged to the Beatles, the roman soldier who appears at the same time every day with his packed lunch. Not to mention the stuffed monkey that someone keeps misplacing.
But there is one mystery Martha cannot solve. And now the authorities have found out about the girl in lost property. Time is running out - if Martha can’t discover who she really is, she will lose everything…

It has taken me a long time to write this review. I review lots of books and in most cases I can simply put the book down and write the review and move on. For some reason I couldn’t do that with this book. I genuinely didn’t want to let Martha go and there was a part of me that felt that once the review was done I’d have to let her go. I’ll confess that I fell in love with Martha right from the opening pages. She is the most endearing and delightful character I have read in a long time.

16 year old Martha Lost has lived her whole life in Liverpool Lime Street station and she dances and spins through her days filling the station with her joy of life, but she has never left the station and does not know who she really is. We see the world through her eyes as she puts together the missing jigsaw puzzle pieces of her life. Laced through Martha’s story we can follow a similarly lost thing; a suitcase that is possibly full of Beatles memorabilia. This piece of the puzzle is based on the real-life story of the apparent discovery of Beatles’ friend and roadie Mal Evans. The two stories interconnect and develop to creating one beautiful whole and a heartwarming and joyful novel.

Caroline Wallace is the pen-name of author Caroline Smailes and one of her bestselling books, The Drowning of Arthur Braxton, is currently being turned into a movie. This is no easy task because her writing is complex and detailed and so it will take a delicate hand to take her words from page to screen. You can follow this process on the Arthur Braxton facebook page. Wallace’s books (and those written under Caroline Smailes) are magical and extraordinary. Her writing feels to me like a harmonious blend of Alice Hoffman and John Irving, but with a distinctly British accent – well, specifically a Liverpudlian one in Martha! Wallace always seems to capture that sense of the real, but mingles it with a subtle air of magic and wonder that is utterly charming.

Be warned, if you read this book you too will fall hopelessly in love with Martha and never want to let her go. Quite simply, the most beautiful writing.

The Finding of Martha Lost is published by Doubleday (March 2016)
ISBN 978-0857523341

Review by Dawn Finch
Children's writer and librarian
President, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals


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