Of Things Gone Astray, by Janina Matthewson

Of Things Gone AstrayTitle: Of Things Gone Astray
Janina Matthewson 
 The Friday Project
Publication date: August 28th 2014
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9780007562480
Source: NetGalley
Rating: 4.5/5
Buy at: BookDepository

Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight …

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 in an earthquake, finds himself strangely attracted to other people’s lost things. But little does he realise that his most valuable possession, his relationship with his dad, is slipping away from him.

Of Things Gone Astray is a magical fable about modern life and values. Perfect for fans of Andrew Kaufman and Cecelia Ahern.


In the city of London, a group of loosely connected people lose something important to them. Mrs Featherby wakes up to find her front wall gone. Jake and his father are losing one another. Marcus is about to start playing when he realised his piano keys vanished. Cassie’s girlfriend didn’t walk through the arrivals of Heathrow airport and there is no news of her. Robert’s workplace and colleagues disappeared. Delia cannot find her way anywhere – not to her favourite park, not to the store in the corner of the street, not home. Everyone’s suddenly missing something vital and they don’t know what to do.

Of Things Gone Astray could have been a preachy tale about how we ought to be thankful for what we have or of how we all ought to step out of our comfort zones, but it wasn’t. It was anything but. Whilst some characters’ stories had such thoughts woven through their story lines, it was so as a natural consequence of their personalities and lives. After all, each one deals differently with loss, some denying it, some obsessing over it, some learning how to live with it. In this way, the novel felt quite like a character study. I do not know if that was the author’s intentions. Nonetheless, she was certainly successful.

Matthewson was also perfect at creating a lyrical writing with echoes of magic that ripple from the beginning to the end of the story. Its subtlety allows for an intimate insight of the characters’ psyche and the impacts of their past and present on the future they build page by page. Each chapter follows one particular character’s path. All of them were rather short, and yet the perfect length to let you swim in the waters of each life and struggle before it was time to change pools.

Of Things Gone Astray was more than I had hoped. When I first read the blurb for this book, I thought I’d read an odd story of a magical London where all was topsy-turvy and yet quite the same. The tale differed from it, and this, the real story,  is much better than anything I dreamt of. I highly recommend it.


The book in a quote

“’My dear,’ he said, ‘no matter how old we get, we somehow can never convince ourselves that whatever trial we’re in the iddle of is only temporary. No matter how many trials we’ve had in the past, and no matter how well we remember that they eventually were there no longer, we’re still sure that this one, this one right now, is a permanent state of affairs. But it’s not. By nature humans are temporary beings.'”


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