Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Secret of Lost Things” as Want to Read:
The Secret of Lost Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Secret of Lost Things

3.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,385 Ratings  ·  653 Reviews
Eighteen years old and completely alone, Rosemary arrives in New York from Tasmania with little other than her love of books and an eagerness to explore the city. Taking a job at a vast, chaotic emporium of used and rare books called the Arcade, she knows she has found a home. But when Rosemary reads a letter from someone seeking to “place” a lost manuscript by Herman Melv ...more
Paperback, 349 pages
Published March 11th 2008 by Anchor (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)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Apr 09, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Apr 07, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biblio-novels
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
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So I don't know how I found this book but so glad I stumbled across it.
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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
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
☼♄Jülie 

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
Kathy Szydlo
Jan 10, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want a story that isn’t fluff, sunshine and conventional sexual relationships all wrapped with a neat little bow, you’ve come to the right place!

Unlike a lot of reviewers on here what I really liked about this novel was that it wasn’t cliche. Let me explain. Conventional novels tend to have heightened drama (characters freak out, they do something brash, they have a blow-up that no one in real life actually does ...but it all works out in the end); essentially they have a climax, a dénou
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Simone Ramone
Feb 10, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
I hate closing a book half way, but this simply left me no option.

You know it's going to be hard going when each character is set apart from the others by what they are rather than who they are.
Almost every one of them was an uber weird social standout ie albino, transgender or even (and this was the most gimmicky of all) Australian..

I didn't hate this but it was clumsy and lacked charm, especially for a fish out of water tale set in an old bookstore.

Paula Cappa
Well written book and very creative style. I love stories that take place in bookshops as I used to work in one. I liked this author but the story was very slow for me. Characters were certainly lively enough but in the end, I have to say it was an average story with a pace that didn't get going. I found myself skimming too much.
Nov 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Sarah Sammis
Dec 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amanda Miller
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The blurbs promised a book about a bookstore in NYC where a literary mystery occurs. Yay! My favorites things - books, bookstores, NYC, mystery, but unfortunately, really it was just an odd book about odd people. Let me describe the characters, and I think you will understand exactly what I mean by "odd": an eighteen year old orphan from Tasmania who was raised by her single mother above a store called "Remarkable Hats"; an albino bookstore manager; the bookstore owner who speaks in the third pe ...more
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to love this story for so many reasons but I also found myself getting bored with it. The writing and thus, the narration, was eloquent and the use of vocabulary made me feel as though I was being elevated to a new level of intellect simply by listening and absorbing the use of words I knew but rarely used in place of my more common choices. This inspires me to explore my vocabulary offerings. The story itself was good but the main character's naivete wore on my patience a bit and I wan ...more
Peter Swanson
Jan 24, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mind-numbingly tedious - did not finish. Pity.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I tried for a hundred pages to like this book and couldn't manage it so I stopped.
Mar 31, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
The Secret of Lost Things: A Novel by Sheridan Hay: Coming to New York from Tasmania at the age of eighteen, Rosemary takes a job at a used and rare bookstore run by the gruff Mr. Pike and his idiosyncratic staff and becomes caught up in the search for a long-lost Melville manuscript. She meets Oscar, who is in charge of non-fiction and who seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of anything and everything; Arthur, who naturally manages the art section and seems to spend more time looking at the ...more
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
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
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Being a fan of Herman Melville's writings,I had great expectations from this book. Even otherwise, a mystery involving a book seemed just the right thing for a bibliophile like me but, I have to say I was extremely disappointed. The book started off well- it seemed fast paced and interesting. Rosemary Savage's cloistered upbringing, her first taste of overwhelming loss and her discovery of a brand new world all seemed to be building up into a fantastic story. When she finds work at the Arcade an ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World
  • The King's English: Adventures of an Independent Bookseller
  • The Wishing Game
  • Don't Ask Me Why
  • Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books
  • Chez Moi
  • Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments
  • A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
  • The Archivist
  • The Fly-Truffler
  • Shelf Life: Romance, Mystery, Drama, and Other Page-Turning Adventures from a Year in a Book store
  • The Library of Shadows
  • The Grand Complication
  • The Haunted Bookshop
  • Counter Clockwise
  • The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History
  • On Rereading
  • Second Reading: Notable and Neglected Books Revisited
“Books aren't lumps of paper, but minds on shelves.” 25 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.” 11 likes
More quotes…