Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn




  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Publisher: Tindal Street Press 2007, this edition 2008
  • Review Quote: ‘Part ghost story and part mystery, What Was Lost is an enthralling tale of a little girl lost, wrapped in a portrait of a changing community over two decades’ The Observer.
  • My Opinion:  Gripping and mysterious.
  • Awards: Costa First Novel 2007, Galaxy British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year 2008, Long listed for Man Booker Prize 2007.

    A double narrative that moves back and forth between the present and the past whilst revealing to us what became of the protagonist Kate. The action is centred around an enormous shopping mall which when the story opens in 1984 is where ten year old Kate spends much of her time. A bright girl but a loner, the mall has become her sanctuary from an unhappy home life. Her time is spent at playing detective,with the help of a stuffed monkey as an assistant. Her dream to have her own investigative agency when she is grown up. A neighbours adult son Adrian is her only real confidante, so it is no surprise that when Kate mysteriously disappears, blame is directed at him.

    The present is some twenty years later and a realistic study of how modern urban life can centre round a shopping mall. Scary thought and made me dislike such places even more than I already do, they are devoid of personality in my opinion. The mystery deepens as Adrian's much younger sister is now a young woman working in a record store in the mall. Through her friendship with a security guard in the centre she learns of the ghostly glimpses of a little girl, with a soft toy in her hand, that appear on the centres CCTV systems. The past and the mystery behind what really happened to Kate is eventually solved.

    A gripping and mysterious read that will make you laugh, yet also has the ability to feel strangely haunting.

    The video I have included is worth watching as Catherine O’Flynn explains where she got her ideas for this novel from without any spoilers.


    Catherine O’Flynn courtesy of Google Images.

    Catherine O’Flynn is British, born in 1970 and now lives and works in Birmingham, England.

    ‘What Was Lost’, was very nearly not published, receiving rejection slips from major publishers before she sent it to Tindal Street Press, a small publisher based in Birmingham. Since publication it has had great reviews, won awards and been translated into 25 languages. ‘What Was Lost’ was her debut novel, her second ‘The News Where You Are’ was published in July 2010.

    Information used in this post is with thanks to the following websites.

    YouTube - Catherine O'Flynn

    Wikipedia - Catherine O'Flynn

    Tindal Street Press - Catherine O'Flynn


    1. I read this book last year - I really enjoyed it!
      I felt so sad for Kate. I agree that it's truly a haunting read.

    2. Going to be checking this one out Linda....thank you! Hugs!

    3. Looks like an interesting read!

    4. Misha@ I think I must have missed your review, so will go and take a look now.

      Pam@ I will look forward to your comments on this one.

      Jyoti@ It is as rather an unusual theme.


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