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The Collector of Lost Things: A Novel Hardcover – December 7, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus (December 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160598485X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605984858
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,687,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Page’s maritime adventure pays tribute, in equal parts, to both philosophy and the environment. In 1845, with rumors of a great auk sighting swirling about, naturalist Eliot Saxby sets sail on the North Atlantic to discover if there is any remaining evidence of the once plentiful species. A flightless bird prized for its luxurious feathers, the great auk was hunted into extinction by the mid-nineteenth century. Proving to be much more than strictly a scientific journey, Saxby’s voyage is a multilayered, often tortured exploration of the inner workings of one man’s soul and spirit as he grapples with his own past, his weirdly creepy shipmates, and man’s violent encroachment on the natural world. In addition to the haunting, gothic-tinged narrative arc, recommend this for Page’s plaintive descriptions of the starkly bleak and beautiful Arctic. --Margaret Flanagan


“Eliot Saxby, the collector of the title and narrator of the book, heads for the Arctic in search of the elusive—and perhaps extinct—great auk.  Capt. Sykes is at the helm of the Amethyst, and when Sykes announces that he plans to kill the last of the birds and thus guarantee their extinction, Saxby watches helplessly while Sykes’ crew methodically kills the auks, but he’s able to conceal an injured auk on board. He and Clara carefully tend the auk, feeding it and nursing it. Miraculously, the auk even lays an egg, assuring the further existence of the species, but Sykes and his duplicitous first mate, Quinlan French, turn out to know more than Saxby suspects. Page shapes a fascinating historical narrative and has moving insights into our sometimes-dubious relationship to the natural world.” (Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW)

Praise for Salt and Sea Change

Thrilling and memorable.

” (Richard Eder - The Los Angeles Times)

“Gorgeous in the telling and heartbreaking in its message, Salt is truly a book to savor.” (The Hartford Courant)

“Page writes with feeling and intimacy, his touch is poetic and sure. The novel's sense of the natural world is fine and compelling. A powerful vision.” (The Guardian)

“Jeremy Page has created an astonishing prose that conveys the unspeakable mystery that is at the center of love and love’s aftermath.” (Richard Rodriguez, author of Brown and Days of Obligation)

“A lyrical and elegiac novel about a real past and an imagined future.” (Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW)

“With lyricism and poise, Page renders a doubly engaging story.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Gripping . . . buoyant.” (Time Out New York)

“Stunningly good. Captures the landscapes with a truly deft, water-colorist's touch. His ear for cadence is extremely acute.” (Rose Tremain)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Collector of Lost Things is a fascinating work on so many levels. The lovely evocative writing wonderfully and vividly depicts a historical adventure on a creaking ship on its way to the Arctic in 1849, the Amethyst carrying a naturalist, Eliot Saxby, on a foolhardy expedition to see if there are any remaining specimens of the extinct Great Auk to be found at the place where the last two birds of the species were killed - a remote outcrop of rock off the coast of Iceland called Eldey. There's enough there alone to justify the book's title, the adventure though the frozen lands and Saxby's hopes of finding at least some trace of the rare bird presenting some interesting thoughts on the nature of man to destroy everything that is beautiful in their destructive drive for commerce and profit.

Aside from the peculiar eccentric nature of the captain and his crew, the ship however is also carrying some other strange passengers who are undertaking the journey for their own interests. There's a young man called Bletchley who hopes to prove his manhood through a collection of rare trophies, his hunting contrasting evidently with Saxby's views on preservation of endangered species, but more significantly there is also a woman on board, Bletchley's cousin Clara, who Saxby believes he once knew back in Norfolk under a different name and in mysterious circumstances that he can't quite bring himself to recall.

There's a delightful element of gothic horror, mystery, romance and intrigue introduced into the work then that is wonderfully and suggestively evoked in the writing, but all the figures also contribute in one way or another to the conflict between man and his nature which is at the centre of the book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Barchi VINE VOICE on December 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The Collector of Lost Things by Jeremy Page is a book about rare, priceless, irreplaceable things, lost forever, not due to some cataclysmic eruption of the universe, but through the banal brutality, and senseless acquisitiveness of mankind. It is very difficult to read the detailed descriptions of the slaughter of animals by sailors, explorers, and even by scientists. Paradise is not always to be found in a lushly appealing tropical setting. Sadly, there is no paradise so frozen, so remote, or so self sufficient that it cannot be discovered, claimed, and exploited by man.

The Collector of Lost Things is not merely a condemnation against animal exploitation. The story is told through the point of view and memories of a young collector, Eliot Saxby, commissioned by several wealthy patrons to see if he can locate, while on an Arctic voyage, any remnants of the extinct Great Auk. The story, set in 1845 at the height of the Victorian passion for scientific collecting and classifying, also brings to life the social, spiritual, and psychological milieu of the age, through the eyes and impressions of the rather naïve Saxby.

In the crowded microcosm of the sailing ship, Saxby interacts closely, if at times uncomfortably, with the various officers and crew, along with two civilian passengers, including Clara, a beautiful young woman accompanying her male cousin on the ship. Clara mystifies and excites Saxby who cannot understand why such a frail woman in obvious distress and ill health should attempt such a dangerous voyage.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie on January 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover
In 1845, Eliot Saxby is a naturalist who has been booked passage upon a ship sailing to the Arctic in order to settle a bet. The bet is whether or not the Great Auk is still alive. Eliot is excited by the prospect that he may be able to see and study these wonderful birds that everyone thought to be extinct. There are two other passengers on the ship, Edward and his cousin Clara. Eliot notices that Edward is quite a character, who is a little off at times and has an interesting relationship with his Clara. When Eliot finally catches a glimpse of Clara, he thinks of her as a woman who haunts his past. The rough crew and the troubled captain of the Arctic ship, Amethyst add an element of danger that the passengers can not escape.

Written with a haunting passion, The Collector of Lost Things is a poignant novel for today. Set at the time when humans began to destroy the Arctic, our destruction continues today. Many of the hunting and killing scenes were written so vividly, that I had to put the book down for a minute. Eliot's character reacted to these scenes appropriately, and I think my emotions would be similar. An air of mystery was added with Eliot's reaction to Clara and it was interesting to learn of his past. I was glad to join Eliot on his journey to find the Great Auk, and I appreciated this story being told.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stone Imagery on January 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
this was the first book I checked out from library after getting my kindle. Chose from the cover and short description. enjoy sailing,nature,arctic readings. Book offered more than I expected. Very interesting nature,sailing,arctic aspects - but also offered thought provoking insights into human nature, with a touch supernatural. I recommend you check it out
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