The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace

    The Finding of Martha Lost is a whimsical fairy tale set in Liverpool Lime Street Station in 1976. The country is in the grip of a heatwave but Martha spends the majority of the story within the confines of the station. Having been abandoned there as a baby, she has been brought up in the Lost Property Office and spent her life surrounded by lost objects. Her adoptive mother is cruel towards her but she has her own secret life down in the basement, surrounded by shelves of books. Martha has a special ability to sense the story behind objects through touch. This is a coming of age story as she unravels the mystery around who she is. Around her, she assembles a mysterious though slightly odd group of characters who are also on their own for various reasons.

    This is a story where the setting plays a major part as Martha has been told by her mother that if she is to ever leave it, it will crumble. It is a place where secrets hide in plain sight. A busy railway station made sense as the backdrop to the story as it is always full of people who are in transit, on their own journeys. It is a place where people pass through, without taking much notice of their surroundings, in contrast to Martha who is stuck there mid journey, looking on. You have to be able to suspend belief to read the book and I don't think that I really managed to do that completely. As the story unfolded, I became a little impatient with the sub plot which revolved around an Australian writer who was on the trail of the lost ashes of Mal Evans, the Beatles roadie.
    I would say that the creation of Martha's character is the strongest part of this book. She is naive and innocent having spent most of her life in the station under the thumb of her adopted mother but is an observer and extremely intuitive through her special ability to 'see' the story behind each lost object. I loved her affinity with her books and relentless cheerfulness. However, I found the rest of the plot a little clunky.

In short: wry, quirky out of the ordinary.

Thanks to the publishers, Transworld Publishers who sent me an e-copy of the book via NetGalley.


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