Every year, elderly sisters Dolly and Greta head to the ‘lost luggage auction’. They each bid on a piece of luggage which then becomes their Christmas gift to each other. But this year, Dolly is at the auction on her own. Greta has passed away and in recent months Dolly hasn’t really felt much like going anywhere or looking after herself too well (although she has looked after her fish, Maurice). Nevertheless, off she goes to the auction bidding on a piece, as she’s always done, and bringing it home. She’s not sure if it’s a gift to herself this year, or a gift to her absent sister.
What’s inside this lost suitcase will prove to be life-changing for Dolly. Apart from a rather expensive item of clothing, she also discovers a notebook belonging to someone named Phoebe, who’s created a list of ‘firsts’: things she intends doing to ‘get out more’. Dolly is determined to find the owner of the book so that she can start doing all the exciting things on her list. But with the encouragement of her good friends (who also happen to be her neighbours), Leroy and Flo, she realizes that she too could get out a bit more and maybe she can follow the list and have some adventures of her own.
I adored Leroy, Dolly’s retired, gay friend who’s doing his best to get over a break-up (that he thinks happened because of his retirement), and is making an effort to to be brave and independent, and I wanted to give 11-year-old Flo a great big hug and tell her that being quirky and different is something to be proud of (actually I wanted to yell that in her parents’ faces too!) It’s true that with age, you acquire wisdom and maybe that’s why Dolly was able to appreciate Flo’s differences and the fact that she didn’t quite fit in with other kids her age.
I found the idea of an auction for lost luggage quite fascinating and I did a Google search to find out if this was really a thing. It seems that there are a few airlines that do this. There are some that sound like they somehow open up the unclaimed luggage and sell the items too! It’s quite an in-depth area of research once you start delving into it, and not such a simple concept – but all very, very interesting.
But when reading the book, I did think about the title, and wondered if the ‘lost luggage’ could actually refer to people too? Dolly, Leroy and Flo are all a bit lost, aren’t they? So in a way, they’re almost like lost luggage – drifting, not really fitting in, floating around, dare I say … “unclaimed”? (Although obviously Flo has her parents, despite the fact that they don’t seem able to accept her for who she is.)
The characters are so well-rounded and so compatible, despite age differences – they have more in common than anything that sets them apart. The story is written with such sensitivity and I was so touched by it, even though initially I found Dolly to be an incredibly sad individual. I quickly got over that as she came out of her shell and found herself. Thank you to RaRa Resources for the blog tour and this gorgeous, highly recommended 4-star read.
Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3bgCnBC
Samantha Tonge is the bestselling and award-winning author of over 15 romantic fiction titles published by HQ, and most recently Aria. Her first book for Boldwood, Under One Roof, was published in February 2022 and her move to Boldwood marks a broadening of her writing into multi-generational woman’s fiction. She lives in Manchester with her family.
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