Lost and Found in Camden
is a compilation of short stories for everyone.
From Kayla O'Neill, whose husband's dishonesty drives her to flee to England and open her own book shop on a whim, to Milena, ostracized from her Romany community and everything she's ever known for marrying an outsider who ultimately betrays her, each character is running away from their own pasts, uncertain of what lies ahead.
Their common thread? All of them end up running to Camden Market, a flea market known across England for its unique items that attract both natives and tourists.
Some of these characters are shop owners at the market, others just customers, but their lives ultimately intersect. These intersections are sometimes so subtle that I'm thoroughly impressed by the authors' abilities to connect the storieas so skillfully. It's one thing to collaborate with one other author, but an entirely different animal to mesh 11 creative auras into a cohesive book.
The first story quickly drew me in—Kayla's desire to get as far away from her reality as possible and create a fresh start is one I'm sure we've all had at one time or another. The difference with Kayla is that she doesn't think about it; she just does it. Not only does she find her niche and learn to find strength from her past, she touches other lives in the process. Her story was a perfect introduction to Camden and its lure for the other troubled souls who end up there.
The characters also gave me a strong sense of who the authors are. Beth Baugh, Anita Bihovsky, Victoria Chanin, Tamara Efran, Ann E. Hacker, Barbara Inglis, Janice Jakubowitcz, Elke Klein, D-L, Nelson, Hillary Theriault, and Susan Zeigahn are women from several backgrounds and experiences. Yet they found their common thread in writing, and created this compilation that has quickly become one of the best books I've read this year.
These are narratives about love, loss, and self-discovery. Neither the characters nor their narratives are perfect, but maybe they don't need to be.
Lost and Found's appeal may partially lie in its imperfections, as is true in our own lives.
As her friends dedicated their stories to her, I dedicate this review to Barbara Inglis' memory. May she rest in peace.
You can purchase the book on Amazon
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