The Secret of Lost Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Secret of Lost Things

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  2,599 ratings  ·  552 reviews
'The Secret of Lost Things' is the story of a treasure hunt through the bookshops of New York. It is based on the author's real-life discovery of a long lost manuscript by Herman Melville.
Paperback, 354 pages
Published 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Secret of Lost Things, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Secret of Lost Things

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Apr 16, 2008 Alana rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bibliophiles who are sick over a weekend and/or albinos.
A literary mystery can be just the thing you need, particularly when you're sick and stuck at home over the weekend as I was, so it was delightful to find The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay on a Barnes & Noble table... A young redhead named Rosemary just starting her life in Manhattan by working at a bookstore and becoming involved in a secret that involves a lost Melville novel? Naturally, I purchased it on the spot.

But I'm sorry to say that there was one scene that seemed to rather...more
Apr 27, 2008 Jennifer rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: one-star-wonders
A novel set in a used bookstore with a bit of a literary mystery to it should have been just the thing for me. I found the idea of the lost Melville novel 'The Isle of the Cross' very interesting, but in the end I found 'The Secret of Lost Things' to be overwritten and somewhat painful to read. Even the mystery ended up not really being a mystery at all.

I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable, not even Rosemary, the protagonist of the book. Other than Rosemary, I feel like the...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is another book from my speed-dating project. I took it up again because it is an easy read. I feel torn about rating it because I enjoyed it quite a bit, but really there isn't a lot of depth to it. It reminds me of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore in the way that most of the story takes place in a bookstore with characters that are more like caricatures. That stereotyping makes the book less successful, but I still found myself going back to it and finishing it quickly. Maybe it helps tha...more
I was spellbound by this novel, but have mixed feelings about it. I agree with other reviewers who found the "mystery" of the lost Melville manuscript to be rather shallow. In fact, that "mystery" is not the main focus of teh novel. The main focus is the narrator's (and other characters') experience of loss upon the death of loved ones, coming of age, moving away from home, growing old, etc. This brings about my inital mixed feelings. It really wasn't what I was expecting, and not exactly what t...more
The Secret of Lost Things is almost a lost thing itself, it captures transience and a certain desperation that attends the last of hope. In this sense, the setting of a used bookstore called the Arcade is perfect. An arcade in some sense is like a holy place, but since they don't really exist in a modern lexicon, the place itself is an apparition, out of context in a New York City bustling into the 1980s (according to my reckoning). in addition to the Arcade, there's a triptych of grotesqueries...more

I ended up powering through this one as I realized part way through that I had read it some time ago but couldn't I have revisited it. I remember the characters now and I think I rather enjoyed it more the second time around.
From memory I originally found the characters a bit off putting and odd ball...which indeed they are, especially Walter Geist, but I think I found a bit more substance this time around...not sure why as there are so many odd ball people throughout, it was some...more
I was irritated that the author never specifies when the story takes place, but I liked the idea of it so much that I kept reading. Eventually I realized that it felt like a chore, so I stopped.

None of the characters were particularly likeable to me, and I couldn't understand why Rosemary was so in love with Oscar. Also, it bothered me that all the people that worked in the shop seemed to be so vicious. I couldn't understand why she didn't find a different bookstore to work in.

The book felt lik...more
A looong read with little to no pay off in my opinion ... I bought it because the NY Times review got me curious ... and I am a book whore ... bought it (in Mass Market Paperback), read it, forced myself to finish it ... but I cannot recommend it.
Up until the abrupt ending, I was totally drawn into this book. It seemed to be just the book I was looking for: a young woman, alone, sets off for a new life in New York City, works at a used bookstore with crazy but intriguing employees, falls in love with a man who is incapable of loving her back, and captures the heart of an ailing albino. It seemed to mirror my own life! Except for the working at a bookstore part. But now I REALLY want to work in a bookstore, or a copy/print shop. ;-)
This book was readable but not particularly satisfying.

To have rated it more highly I would have needed to be locked into the mystery/detective part of the story much sooner. There needed to be more twists and turns within the mystery itself, maybe a few dead ends -it all turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I'm not sure I really hooked onto a Melville mystery having never read any of his stuff - is he more of an American hero???

Also - I was really intrigued by the whole 'lost boys' of Argent...more
Kathy Szydlo
I could not get through this book. The main character, a young women from New Zealand, was so sheltered in her life that she apparently knew only her mother, who dies at the beginning of the book, and an older women who is a friend of her mother. She moves to New York and the first third of the book is spent introducing us to several odd, but uninteresting characters in a used book store there.
The author used a lot of words to advance the story very slowly, and about half way through I gave up...more
Rosemary Savage grows up in Tasmania, beloved child of a single mother who keeps a hat shop to make ends meet. When her mother dies, a family friend scrapes together the money to send the grief-stunned teenager off to New York. Rosemary drifts around NYC for a few weeks, then finds a job in a used-book store, the Arcade. This cavernous bookstore is home to a strange group of misfits : the avaricious owner George Pike, a pre-op transsexual named Pearl, the good-looking but emotionally incapacitat...more
It took over half of the book to get to the main premise. I enjoyed reading about the lost work of Herman Melville, which was given about 3/4 of the way into the book . But the book to me wasn't worth it. It should have had some intrigue.
This book was very boring. I thought it would pick up but it didn't. Had to finish because I was half way thru.
I tried for a hundred pages to like this book and couldn't manage it so I stopped.
Mind-numbingly tedious - did not finish. Pity.
In this coming of age story of a young Tasmanian girl, wallflower Rosemary, only Walter Geist, both a tragic character and albino, is truly interesting. And perhaps Oscar, at first. With his handsome looks that seemingly - nonsense of course - contradict his a-sexuality. The other characters populating The Secret of Lost Things are often painfully stereotypical. Created by Hay in order to spice up her setting, a bookshop, with semi-interesting personalities.

Now Geist, manager of New York booksh...more
Micheal Fraser
I just finished this wonderful book. It is a love letter to all booksellers and all who love reading. Sheridan Hay reminds me of
Donna Tartt (which is funny as they both went to Bennington ).

I found it addictive and had to read in all in one go.

The character of Rosemary made an interesting journeyfrom fresh country girl in the big city to a more understanding and experienced woman. All in one year.

What an education is New York, and more so that amazing bookstore the Arcade, a country, or at least...more
I really wish this book had remained a secret to me. It wasn't worth the time that it took me to read the book, luckily I only paid 5 dollars for it. Rosemary, a young girl from Tasmania, has decided to move to New York City, and earn a living in a book store that is known for having rare copies of books. There are a variety of characters at the bookstore, an albino, a motherly transsexual, and other strange people. One day she is assisting the albino and she comes across a letter that indicates...more
Amanda Miller
I didn't think that this book would end up to be much more than a casual, easy read for entertainment purposes only, but this was not so. I soon began to get into the storyline, as my own life story has been somewhat similar to Rosemary Savage's, and was initially fascinated by the character of Oscar. I felt that I related to Oscar's bookishness and solitary life, his inability to truley connect with people, gaining understanding only through his observational notes on life. Besides amazingly re...more
I kept finding myself picking this book off the shelves at the library. Mainly, I think, because of the intriguing title and because the spine of the book has pictures of books on it. Quite a good marketing tool, if you think about it. However, this ended up being another lesson in not judging books by their covers (or their titles). Instead of being intriguing and rich, what was inside was bland and unpalatable.

Any story of a remarkably beautiful, introverted, bookish young redhead who has jus...more
I just finished The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay and I find that I can't get myself to rate it. I am unsure of how I feel about this book. Maybe my brain just hasn't processed the story fully...

It is a coming-of-age story mixed with a literary mystery. The main character, Rosemary, is an 18-year old from Tasmania who moves to New York City after the death of her mother. She finds work at this massive bookstore called the Arcade and gets caught up in a mystery involving a lost manuscript...more
Sarah Sammis
One small quibble... One doesn't write "Tasmania" on the customs form. One writes, TAS and the postal code and then AUSTRALIA. Despite Tasmania's cultural independence, they are still part of Australia. Just as when mailing things Hawaii gets reduced to HI.

The review:

Sometimes a book will just click with a reader. Everything (or almost everything) will fall into place and just be a shared experience between the author, the fictional characters and the reader. The Secret of Lost Things by Sherida...more
May 22, 2008 Karen rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like giant bookstores.
The secret of Lost Things established its own unusual wandering but very enjoyable tempo - this is a book you read for the pleasure of immersing yourself in the prose. I found myself mesmerized by the bizarre characters who inhabit the bookstore where Rosemary (the protagonist) begins work when she arrives in NYC. Beyond these aspects of the book, I was also captured by the ability of Sheridan Hay to describe the ephemeral strands of affection and dislike that coalesce between human beings. Hay...more
Aug 25, 2007 Chris rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book lovers
I love a novel about books, bookstores, and those who are book obsessed. This is a bit of a mystery about a lost manuscript and the odd characters that all work in a bookstore in NYC (that sounds rather like the Strand). A young girl comes from Tasmania, secures a job at this strange bookstore, gets mixed up with all these very strange characters - the blind albino manager, the transexual cashier, the eccentric owner of the bookstore, the rare book dealers, and her mentor of sorts, with whom she...more
Would recommend: Yes

The Secret of Lost Things is a lovely read. The language is evocative and really immerses the reader in the story's environments. The plot in the first three-quarters of the book was fairly slow, but Sheridan Hay kept dangling questions and hints so that I was always on the edge of my seat. And then the last section knocked me over the head. I gasped three times in 80 pages, and that is saying something.

My favorite bits of the book were when Hay was musing about the lives an...more
I learned that sometimes you have to go through a series of mediocre and terrible books to get to the gems.

This novel contains everything that makes a book a piece of literature and far more than a good read.

The blend of poetic writing and interconnected storytelling is mesmerizing and something to be savored.

The characters are complicated and so ordinarily human, broken, and they embellish themselves and their world to seek some kind of meaning and self-importance in the storyline that moves...more
It's taken me a while to read this...mainly due to having library books and going on holiday...but whenever I have come back to it, I've just fallen straight in with the story, which is partly about rosemary and partly about a lost book.
I've never read Moby sick, which features so heavily,I think I might make the effort now...
There was a great cat of weird and wonderful characters, all of whom seemed damaged or flawed in some way, but all of them were told well....
I had one issue with this book(...more
Jul 15, 2008 Matt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends
Shelves: general-fiction
I love this book so far. For any book lover, this novel is a tale about an orphaned 18 year old girl from Tasmania, Australia who travels to NYC to start a new life. She gets a job at a used bookstore that employs several eccentric characters. Right now it involves a lost Melville manuscript.

Once I finished this novel, it was okay. The ending last a little anti-climatic. Yet, the information about the friendship between Melville and Hawthorne was interesting. I would recommend this book to any w...more
This story was one that I had to read with no distractions. Beautifully written with so many details to embrace, from art, to books and their quotes, to an intimate cast of eccentric people, each an interesting story within the story.
I even had to look up a word or two.

It is the story about Rosemary Savage an 18 year old girl from Tasmania, and her search for a life in New York City. She has always felt an affinity for large cities as to her they represented freedom, “ a goldfish bowl one could...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Patience & Fortitude: Wherein a Colorful Cast of Determined Book Collectors, Dealers, and Librarians Go About the Quixotic Task of Preserving a Legacy
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History
  • Chez Moi
  • The Haunted Bookshop
  • A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
  • The Smithsonian Book of Books
  • A Passion for Books: A Book Lover's Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Love and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books
  • The Cain Saga, Volume 2: The Sound of a Boy Hatching
  • Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store
  • Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments
  • Ex-Libris
  • The Archivist
  • The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You'll Never Read
  • Counter Clockwise
  • Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love
  • ABC for Book Collectors
  • The House of Paper
  • Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books
A Radiant Life: The Selected Journalism

Share This Book

“Books aren't lumps of paper, but minds on shelves.” 18 likes
“I didn't know then that this was how deep emotion most often comes, from opposite directions and at once, when you are least aware and farthest from yourself.” 10 likes
More quotes…