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The Room of Lost Things
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The Room of Lost Things

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  211 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
From the author of 'Parallel Lies' and the Orange Prize nominated 'State of Happiness' comes a story about London and its inhabitants. Under his railway arch in Loughborough Junction, Robert Sutton is handing over his dry-cleaning shop to Akeel. More than that, he teaches Akeel all he knows of his world.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 2009 by Virago (first published March 1st 2008)
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Feb 05, 2011 GingerDoll rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a soul
Were it not for my book club I wouldn't have considered this book. My life would have been so much the poorer! This is a beautiful book, that to me spoke about the human condition and most of all about loneliness and the brief connections that we make with one another. The character of Robert is beautifully observed, and watching his tentative friendship with Akeel develop throughout the book was one of the joys of reading. The revelations are so subtly introduced that it's only a little while a ...more
Apr 30, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have no hesitation in giving The Room of Lost Things a full five stars. The only initial negative is that it is in a somewhat stream-of-consciousness writing style, therefore not adhering fully to correct punctuation. I spent the first couple of pages wanting to mark it up with a red pen, but then I chilled out about it and let myself be taken with the flow and with the voices of the characters.

And I'm glad I did. In fact, the book reads incredibly easily and quickly.

Each time I had to lay i
Aug 05, 2011 Berenice rated it liked it
A good read, good character building, but lost the plot at the end - as readers we expect the author to make a decision on the ending. This made me feel Ms Duffy had lost her way a bit. At our reading group the ending was a sticking point for all of us and there were also comments that from the title we had expected to find out more about the items in the 'Room'. Having had that little gripe, we did all enjoy reading it, and loved the evocative atmosphere created.
Nov 25, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If somebody would have said that I would read a book about a dry cleaners and actually enjoy it then I would of thought that they were having me on! This book was absolutely brilliant and totally deserves its five stars. The story evolves around the customers who frequent a dry cleaners in London. It is very much a story about everyday life. Although there is much sadness and loneliness (London can be a very lonely city in my opinion) it does have a note of optimism. Finishing the book it made m ...more
Nov 03, 2014 Lucy rated it liked it

A very interesting read, we get the view of a microcosm of life in south London, seen through the eyes of a dry cleaner, the comings and going of the people who deposit both their cloths and their memories in his shop.

It is a totally original book... And I will always make sure I check my pockets before going to the dry cleaners from now on :-)
This is the story of an aging drycleaner, Robert, who takes in his young successor Akeel to train him, with the story of a lifetime unfolding in front of our eyes.
The book is a good and entertaining read, but there are two things I expected and didn't get:
1. The title indicates that we might get a deeper view into the room where the main character stores all the things people have left in the pockets of their drycleaning over the last 40 years. Although we get some interesting peaks, the story
Apr 24, 2012 Bookguide rated it liked it
This is the sort of book where not a lot actually happens, and yet you get to know something about the lives of a number of the customers of a dry cleaning shop in Loughborough Junction, a crossing of railway lines in the south of London. The people described all live around the area, but do not necessarily know each other. The owner of the shop has been observing them for years, and seems to know far more about them than one might expect from the brief conversations he has with his customers. I ...more
Mar 31, 2013 Rosa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Este libro es un gran engao de principio a fin. Lo cog de la biblioteca por la descripcin de detrs (y porque la portada me pareci bonita, lo admito ^^): "A book for anyone who's ever lived and loved in London - [...]. Always surprising, always moving, and as fresh as tomorrow". Me apeteca un montn leer un libro que transcurriese en Londres y que adems fuese bonito, "moving" y "fresh as tomorrow". Vale, pues este libro es la cosa ms deprimente del mundo. Son un montn de historias entremezcladas e ...more
Richard Sutton is ready to sell his dry cleaning business. The only taker is an industrious young man named Akeel. Richard agrees to train Akeel for a year before handing over the business.

The story the gives us a glimpse of the patrons of the dey cleaners. Really giving us a peek into the various residents that live in the area.

The conversations between Richard and Akeel are about everything from race to parenting.

The room referred to in the title is never fully explored, but I get the sense
Jul 04, 2015 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a book club read and I'm afraid I didn't particularly enjoy it. I finished it but it was hard going. I prefer my books to have something more dramatic going on, rather than the daily life of a dry cleaners. Yes we learned about the lives of the customers too, but I'm sorry this wasn't for me.
Gary Cheetham
Jun 13, 2015 Gary Cheetham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 3.5. I think this would make a great tv drama series. A little bit like a south London 'Tales of the city' about it, letting us peek into the revolving characters lives whilst using the dry cleaning shop as its anchor.
Emma Harrison
Jan 31, 2016 Emma Harrison rated it liked it
Shelves: book-group-reads
This was one of our book group reads. I'm afraid that I gave up on it and couldn't finish it. There just wasn't enough to keep me interested. There are lots of different snapshots of other characters but as soon as you get interested in them it's another 4 chapters before they are mentioned again.

I heard from others in the book group that it gets going three quarters of the way through but I need to be interested before that point! Perhaps if I had more time on my hands I might have stuck with i
Tom Perkins
Mar 22, 2014 Tom Perkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned of this book from Simon of the simonreads blog as a book that represents his native country of England. It did take a chapter or two to get into the rhythm of the book, but once I did it was an enjoyable read with a surprise ending that answered a question the book poses, I can't say more on this or it ruin the book for other readers. It helps to have an understanding of life in London to completely enjoy the book, while I never lived in London, I wish I had, I have visited London a nu ...more
Michael Tweed
Aug 05, 2016 Michael Tweed rated it really liked it
Realistic tale of modern city life with a sad touching undercurrent.
Jan 15, 2012 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really enjoyed this book...
I sort of know the area it is set in, and I think the familiarity of that often helps you enjoy a book more, but mainly what I liked about this was all the characters, and there were many of them, all getting on with their lives in many different ways.
the main character Robert slowly through the course of the book revealed more and more about himself, and I enjoyed that, rather than being told everything up front...
Great book!
Feb 06, 2016 Aileen rated it really liked it
Robert, an old man handing over his South London dry cleaning business to Akeel, a younger Asian man doesn't sound very interesting. But over the course of the year that they work together, he not only teaches him about the business, but we learn the stories of some of the customers, and as they gradually become friends, secrets are swapped. Very well written, with some lovely descriptions, I was soon wrapped up in the story.
Some beautiful writing but just wasn't doing it for me.
Jul 23, 2011 Ruth rated it it was ok
c2008. Recommended by a book blogger. Ummmm.. not sure about this one either. I finished the book, enjoyed the read, but was some what disappointed with the "big reveal". Some really great phrases and pictures of London. "This, son," Robert speaks quietly, looking round the room with obvious pride, "this little lot, is what people leave in their pockets."
Dec 15, 2014 Deborah rated it really liked it
She covers a great deal of modern life in 320 pages from Alzheimer's to churches and much in between. Although this is an LGBT book and I would usually avoid these there was a suggestion that 2 of the characters were gay but not enough to put me off and I agree with the Daily Mail quote on the front and I did cry as I finished the book.
Really enjoyed this, though it took me ages as was reading it when I went into labour and during the very hazy newborn period. For a Londoner (especially a south londoner) the topography is fun although it's unlikely to go into any major literary canon. Could have done with a more meaningful living female character.
Jan 07, 2011 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. A great mix of characters all tied together through their proximity to a dry cleaning shop in London. The main character, the dry cleaner, gives the reader access to people from throughout his community and as the story progresses we learn more about him and his life. A great story.
Karen Wolff
I enjoyed it. It was a different style and a nice easy read. It was passed on to me by someone who wasn't sure about it. I will add more later as I read it some time ago, but it prompted me to read moreby Stella Duffy and I am currently adding these titles to the site. Work in progress.
Margaret Chamberlain
it was a very compelling read. Very sad as it's all about the passing of time and getting older and friendships and life and everything, not ideal for holiday reading I expect but I liked it a lot. It has made me want to read more by Stella Duffy, the style of writing is beautiful.
Cherry Potts
Jan 04, 2014 Cherry Potts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, everything about it from the familiar south london setting to the ambiguous ending delighted me. One of the high spots of my reading year. Another to add to my all time favourite London books.
Sarah Watts
Feb 27, 2012 Sarah Watts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great character observations. On one hand a touching story about different personalities, generations & culture; on the other a narrative on post 7/7 London. Deftly written by the multi-talented Stella Duffy.
Jun 18, 2012 Sian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book. One of the best London books I've read (blows A Week In December right out the water) and just a lovely book about lives, just everyday lives, and friendship. Loved it.
May 17, 2009 Adi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the amusing book that I expected based on her other novels. But a special hymn to a part of London I know and have a fondness for in all it's tawdry run down glory.
Judi Mckay
May 26, 2014 Judi Mckay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
gives an interesting view of south London life. Quite sad characters. Very different read - hard to categorise into any genre
Dec 16, 2012 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. A moving and insightful look into everyday lives in a small London community.
Aug 04, 2015 Katie rated it liked it
More like 3 & a half stars. Very slow going but really quite a lovely, gentle story.
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Stella Duffy grew up in New Zealand and lives and work in London. She has written thirteen novels, fifty short stories, and ten plays. The Room of Lost Things and State of Happiness were both longlisted for the Orange Prize, and she has twice won Stonewall Writer of the Year. She won the 2002 CWA Short Story Dagger for Martha Grace. She is currently adapting her novel State of Happiness for featur ...more
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