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Of Things Gone Astray

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,115 ratings  ·  244 reviews
On a seemingly normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something dear to them, something dear but peculiar: the front of their house, their piano keys, their sense of direction, their place of work.

Meanwhile, Jake, a young boy whose father brings him to London following his mother’s sudden death, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things.
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published August 28th 2014 by The Friday Project (first published August 25th 2014)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,115 ratings  ·  244 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
How would you react if the most important thing in your life disappeared, or if what you depended on most changed? If what gave you a sense of identity was no longer present, lost and not able to be found? I thought of this, for me it would probably be me books, how would I feel if I came downstairs in the morning and my books were gone, what would I do to fill the time I spent reading?

These are the things confronting the characters in this entertaining novel. People loose things, a woman looses

Its pretty cover and enticing blurb just can’t make up for the fact that Of Things Gone Astray is a disappointingly superficial exploration of loss. Loss is one of the more interesting themes to explore in writing. It’s universal, easy to relate to, a theme that can be explored from numerous angles and say so much. Author Janina Matthewson essentially said nothing.

The narrative is organized as basically a series of bland short stories, each focused on a single character, separa
Margaret Madden
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars
Sometimes you encounter a book that will stay with you for life. It could be the first sentence, an amazing plot, fantastic characters or a link to a moment in time. I knew from page one that this book would remain with me, long after I had placed it on a bookshelf, when finished. I have been trying to think of a way to summarise this novel, while giving it the credit it deserves. I will attempt to give the gist of the story, and can only hope that in doing so, I can persuade you to try
Literary fiction has the reputation of being high-brow, inaccessible, and overly complicated. Of Things Gone Astray proves that the genre can also be funny, thought-provoking, clever, sad, and relatable.

One day, a wall of Mrs Featherby's house disappears. Another woman's sense of direction fails so spectacularly that she can't even cross the street without getting lost. A man's job vanishes. A girl in the airport grows roots. All of them lose something that was important to them, that they depe
Megan Readinginthesunshine
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was very intrigued by this book. Firstly, the cover is so striking, when I first saw it I could not take my eyes way from it, it is stunning and intriguing in equal measures. And after reading the description, I was very interested to start reading.

On what appears to be a normal morning in London, a group of people all lose something that is very dear to them, but perhaps not the thing they would first think of – the front of their house, piano keys, a sense of direction, and so on. Meanwhile
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I've read this book weeks ago, just not sure about my review....

*********Possible Spoilers***********

I don't get it!!! Ok, I get it.....several people lose something that is very important to them....and????

This story is written in 6 pov's; one story from each loser. The author takes each scenario and mish mashes it around.....kind of like stirring ketchup into your mashed potatoes. It just gets more unrecognizable as you continue!

If you are looking for an ending...there isn't one. You have to
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014, arcs
This was a beautiful book -- Matthewson has used a magical realist style to represent loss in many forms. Characters literally lose their job, their sense of direction, the walls they hid behind, even each other. It's highly readable -- short chapters, a gentle, nostalgic style, an interweaving of the stories of each person who has lost something. I was right on the verge of giving it 5 stars, but I found the ending rushed -- it was clear what Matthewson was going for, but I feel that she needed ...more
Nov 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine, if you will, an entire season of Twilight Zone episodes being told in parallel. Each tied together under an umbrella of loss, or a lost umbrella. The magic realism threatening to run astray at any moment. But would it be inconsistent for anything to run astray in a book of loss? Would it be so bad to turn into a tree at an arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport? Does one find one's calling through the things we lose? Not that any of these questions receive a satisfying answer. But the though ...more
Aug 15, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, edelweiss
Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an egalley copy of the book to review.

“Of Things Gone Astray” is a tale that uses the context of lost objects to explore the every-day side of people, the way they interact and go through their lives with their own thoughts, as well as the conflicts they face. The reader follows the stories of several characters, namely Mrs. Featherby, Cassie, Delia, Robert, Marcus, and Jake. There are a few chapters, around ten, which briefly talk about lost obj
Janina Matthewson is the co-author and performer of the podcast Within the Wires (the other co-author being Welcome to Night Vale's Jeffrey Cranor), which is mysterious and delightful and heart-breaking. When I heard she'd written a novel, you better believe I had my grabby hands on it as soon as BookDepository could possibly deliver it, and it was SO WORTH IT. It's bizarre and lovely, with enough allegory to make it really unusual and inspire lots of meta and thinky-thoughts, but also plenty of ...more
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
First of all I would like to say how grateful I am to have received this book from Netgalley. I loved it.

Imagine losing the thing in your life you most depend on, the thing that has built your entire comfort zone. Most of us don't even have a conscious idea of what that is. It's so taken for granted that it will just always be there, and we have no idea how imprisoning these things can be until they are taken away.

That's what this book is about, people being completely stripped of their comfort
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
I really enjoyed this book. I've read a lot of eARCs this season,and most I was content to just read once and move on, but I may have to eventually acquire a paper copy of this one.

In this story, things start going missing- the front wall of a house, a man's job, a young woman's sense of direction, a pianist's piano's keys, etc.- and with no explanations in sight everyone has to just get on with life as best they can. In the process maybe they find that they are regaining things they hadn't eve
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What to say about this mind-blowing book? It defies genres, sometimes venturing into "The Twilight Zone," other times meandering into subtle psychological territory, always challenging the sense of loss and gain. I actually picked it up because I was judging the book by its cover, but the content exceeds the cover art's promise. Read it! You'll be glad you did! ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
If you enjoy Ali Smith you will like this :-)

the same word play
the same themes
the same playing with myths

Blake Fraina
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This remarkable little book came along just at the right time for me.

This summer I’ll be leaving a job I’ve had for the last 22 years. Not by choice, exactly. Impending unemployment and the daunting prospect of starting over again has sent me into a bit of a tailspin. And so it was, with this looming over me, I began reading Janina Matthewson’s poignant and fanciful depiction of a group of Londoners who wake up to find that they’ve each suddenly lost the one thing they believe is integral to th

I knew from page one that this book would remain with me, long after I had put down my e-reader, when finished. I have been trying to think of a way to summarise this novel, while giving it the credit it deserves. This was a beautiful book -- Matthewson has used a magical realist style to represent loss in many forms. Characters literally lose their job, their sense of direction, the walls they've hidden behind, even each other.
"Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to di
Stefani - SpelingExpirt
For more reviews go to SpExReviews

Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson is, in one word, beautiful. One morning various people in London wake up to find things dear to them have gone. They aren’t the things you’d expect someone to lose – piano keys, the front wall of a house, their sense of direction. They wake one morning to find their lives drastically altered.

We follow the tales of Cassie, Delia, Robert, Marcus and Mrs Featherby as they adjust to life without the things that kept them sa
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: galleys
Thank you Harper Collins for the ARC of this book. I was completely intrigued by both the cover and the premise and decided to give it a try.

Of Things Gone Astray is a rather subtle book about loss of all kinds. The characters lose things that are essential to them, some physical like the front of a house or the building where one works, and others are less so, like the sense of direction or a person. These tiny losses have monumental effects on each character, causing them to change their beha
Lolly K Dandeneau
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
First, what a beautiful cover. The story itself is unique as people waking up in London lose things personal and dear to them. Young Jake, after having lost his mother, is drawn to everyone's lost things but he too is losing something vital. Each character has a story, and all of them are trying to continue on without those things they loved. The writing is strange and certainly original, dare I say quirky? Each story is a crack in the reader's heart, a play on loss and how it damages or even pu ...more
Sally Hanan
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this a lot because it was so different. While there were many characters to try and remember, the stories all came together in the end and had some resolution.

This is not a sanitized happy endings for all kind of book, but it wrapped everything up in a much more realistic way than most books.

The lost feeling the characters felt is probably the feeling most readers get when lost in a book and then they suddenly have to wake up and get it together. Maybe that's what has left this lingerin
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
“There is grass spreading out from the tree; it almost reaches the far corners of the room, and in some places there are flowers. Benches and chairs and tables that used to be movable have grown into the floor...It is a reminder that the world is not quite as we expected it to be.”

Fans of magical realism will fall in love with Matthewson’s debut, “Of Things Gone Astray”, the story centers on a cast of characters who have all lost something. The front of their house, their piano keys, their sense
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 stars.
Sanne (SignedbySanne)
This is the kind of book I wish I could write. I predicted it would be 5 stars and it did not disappoint!
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult
This was everything I wanted it to be after reading the description. Sometime we feel off, or lost, or out of sorts and it stays as feeling all in our heads. What if it became physical? Real. Even if in a most unusual way. Not quirky, just charming and delightful.
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
It took me awhile to get to know the myriad of characters in Janina Matthewson's new book, "Of Things Gone Astray," and to remember who was who, but once I got the hang of it I found myself very invested in all of their stories. Each situation was interesting, though some weren't very unique (a duo who don't pay each other enough attention literally DISAPPEAR in each other's sight & memory; a girl who can't bring herself to leave a certain spot literally puts down "roots", etc. etc.). The metaph ...more
Bruce Gargoyle
4.5 stars

Full review at http://thebookshelfgargoyle.wordpress... (Nov 5)

I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss.

Ten Second Synopsis:
A half-dozen Londoners find themselves in a pickle after things they thought were here to stay - sense of direction, place of work, front wall of house, for instance - go inexplicably missing.

After reading the blurb of this book, I was initially under the impression that it was a collection of short stories. As it turns out – rather
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I got a copy of this book to review through Librarything’s Early Review program. Initially the cover grabbed my attention and then the synopsis sounded so intriguing I just couldn’t resist. This ended up being a very intriguing and interesting story full of magical realism. The book is a bit ambiguous at points and you never really know exactly why the things that happen here happen.

This book is about a number of characters who lose things. An old woman looses the front of her house, a middle ag
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
Now this was a weird book. Of Things Gone Astray is a beautifully intricate webs of strange nonsense, that often hits surprisingly close to home. It definitely pushed every quirky and whimsical button of mine. It was fun and playful, but could be poignant and sad. And wow, this is some of the most fun dialogue I've ever read.

This is a charming novel following a cast of characters who have each lost things. Things you don't normally lose. The front wall of your house, your sense of direction, you
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Read this and other reviews at Ampersand Read.

My issues with magical realism aren't the fantasy of it, but the logic of it...or lack thereof. Magical realism plops magic into a regular world, and then doesn't explain its origins or even it's conclusion. In Of Things Gone Astray, you never learn why or how people lose these things (front walls of houses, piano keys, relationship to your father, relationship to your son, your sense of direction, etc.) And for a lot of people here, how they ultimat
Michelle Heegaard
Nov 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I received this as an E-copy from Netgalley in return of an honest review.

First; OMG love the cover! So besutiful!
I liked the different stories that evolved and got entertwined with each other. That was amazing. Janina Matthewson is a brilliant writer. She really has the power over the words. She plays with the words and our logic and she does it brilliantly. I loved all of the character. They were all very real to me and definitly someone you could relate to. What a book! My only complain is
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Fiction writer and sometime actress from Aotearoa, now based in London.

Co-host of History is Sexy.

Nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award 2016, shortlisted for the BBC Audio Drama Awards 2021, winner Audio Verse Awards 2019, 2020.

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