Lost & Found by Brooke Davis is a written in an unusual style, which I didn’t like. I didn’t like the story or the characters either, which is mostly set in an un-named part of Western Australia.
There are three main characters in this novel, Millie Bird, who is seven, Karl the Touch Typist, 87 and Agatha Pantha, 82. (Really, agapanthus? Groan.) All of these characters are lost in their own way (the title is a little obvious too). The telling of the story swaps between these three characters.
The story begins with Millie, who makes lists of dead things she has come across. Millie’s conversations with other people regarding death do not give her the information she is looking for, which to sum up, is the mystery of life and what happens when we die. Most of the people she questions are quite uncomfortable with the subject. Not surprisingly, she does not receive any satisfying answers, probably because there aren’t any. Mille will just have to wait and see, like the rest of us.
The story starts with Millie having been abandoned by her mother in a department store. Millie waits for her mother to return, hiding under a mannequin and writing notes to her mother so she can find Millie when she returns. The reader learns that Millie’s parents were unhappily married and that her father has died quite recently. It is apparent to the reader that Millie’s mother is not returning. It doesn’t seem fair of me to say that I didn’t like Millie’s character, as I should at least have felt sorry for her, but I just couldn’t connect with her.
Anyway, after a few days in the department store Millie is discovered by the store detective. She absconds with Karl the Touch Typist and a mannequin, who it turns out has also been living in the department store after escaping from his retirement home. Karl has a nervous habit of tying everything he says or thinks onto whatever surface is available. He desperately misses his wife Evie, who died. Karl is a man who wants to be alive and have adventures.
Millie and Karl leave town along with Agatha Pantha, who has not left her home since her husband died many years ago. Agatha has spent the time alone measuring her body daily for signs of aging, shouting out at passers-by and listing her daily routine. Agatha is a woman who has forgotten (or possibly never knew) how to live.
This very unlikely trio decide to catch the bus to Kalgoorlie and then travel to Melbourne by train, where they believe Millie’s mother has gone. For Agatha and Karl the trip is an opportunity for an adventure although for Millie the business is much more serious.
I found the characters in Lost & Found too crazy to like. Millie’s, Karl’s and Agatha’s personalities were too disjointed to feel as if I connected with any of them. For me, the description of characters in Kalgoorlie and the train trip across the Nullabor Plain were the most enjoyable part of reading this novel, but that is not a good enough reason to recommend this book when you could flip through a Lonely Planet guide with photographs of exotic areas.