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Lost: A Novel Paperback – September 17, 2002

2.4 out of 5 stars 229 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Before he broke onto the adult bestseller lists with his irreverent interpretations of the Cinderella story (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) and the Wizard of Oz (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West), Maguire wrote children's books with titles like Six Haunted Hairdos, Seven Spiders Spinning and Four Stupid Cupids. His latest is a virtual literary paella of adult and children's fantasies: Jack the Ripper, A Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Exorcist even a wafting glimpse of Dracula. The result is a deftly written, compulsively readable modern-day ghost story that easily elicits suspension of disbelief. American writer Winifred Rudge, whose mass market book about astrology has been far more successful than her fiction, is in London to research a novel linking Jack the Ripper to the house in Hampstead where her own great-great-grandfather rumored to be the model for Ebenezer Scrooge lived. But as Winifred discovers, there is no evidence that the Ripper ever visited Hampstead, let alone buried one of his victims inside the chimney of a house there, and his presence in the story is a red herring. Much more interesting is the mysterious disappearance of Winnie's cousin, John Comestor, the latest resident of the family house. Moreover, something is making an infernal racket inside the chimney, and soon there are other bizarre manifestations of some unseen force. A Dickensian assortment of neighbors (one dotty lady is called Mrs. Maddingly) variously obfuscate and hint at strange events. Maguire's prose is both jaunty and scary; he knows how to mix spooky ingredients with contemporary situations. By the time a spirit called Gervasa begins to speak through Winnie, readers will be hooked.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Children's novelist Winifred Rudge flies from her Boston-area home to London to pay a visit to her distant cousin and old friend John. Instead of receiving his guest open-armed, John is nowhere to be found. His office staff is evasive in fielding Winnie's calls, and Mac and Jenkins, a pair of superstitious home remodelers hired by John to work on the kitchen in his absence, begin behaving strangely, as eerie symbols appear on the wall and inexplicable noises issue from the walled-up chimney space. That Winnie is not alone in her victimization by an otherworldly spirit is a good sign she's not having a breakdown. Maguire, who already has two best sellers to his credit (e.g., Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister) makes the supernatural chillingly real. Setting the story in Winnie and John's ancestral home and filling the neighboring house with John's intimidating new inamorata, Allegra, makes us root for the self-destructive Winnie, a most unlikely heroine. An essential purchase and a substantial Halloween treat. Margee Smith, Grace A. Dow Memorial Lib., Midland, MI
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060988649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060988647
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Terry Mesnard VINE VOICE on July 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
Gregory Maguire quickly rose to fame with his apparently creative look at the Wicked Witch from Oz when he wrote Wicked. Since then, more books distorting or looking at fairy tales differently have been written (including a sequel of sorts to Wicked due out this year) by Maguire. After hearing about the novel and the musical Wicked, I decided I would check out Maguire and see if I would enjoy him. The bookstore was out of Wicked but they did have Lost.

I almost wish they didn't. Not just because I didn't like the book but because it made me almost not want to read Wicked.

I did not care for this novel. Lost was interesting in the beginning but it quickly lost any sort of momentum as it progressed. It begins with an eye-catching scene of a car accident that the protagonist Winnie sees and tries to help. Then it quickly moves to an adoption service Forever Families and we briefly meet families both in the traditional and non-traditional sense who are in the process of trying to adopt. Then we're off to England where Winnie is supposed to meet her step cousin and "friend" John Comestor. But when she arrives, he's nowhere to be seen, the house is being worked on, there's a loud pounding coming from the chimney, no one wants to really talk to Winnie and weird things are happening.

The problem for me was that Maguire seemed to gloss over everything. He keeps the reader distanced from the characters. Not once did I feel like I got to know Winnie. On one hand this was partially intentional as Winnie herself is a very distanced character who retreats into her writing when faced with a situation she doesn't want to acknowledge. Ironically enough, the one area that Winnie was a bit too revealing involves a "plot twist" I guess.
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Format: Paperback
A lot of people seem to have read _Wicked_, tried _Lost_ and been terribly disappointed. I found the book actually MORE satisfying than _Wicked_. I hope that you will give me a chance to sell you on _Lost_, because I think that you will enjoy it if you give it an honest chance. I read the book in the space of a two day business trip, and purposely begged off of social stuff and went to the airport four hours early so I could sit uninterrupted and read it.
I think one of the benefits of _Wicked_ that made others prefer it, is that _Wicked_ takes place in a world we are all familiar with. We have a world already in our heads, a world that Maguire then manipulates and redraws in novel and jarring ways. In _Lost_, however, we are presented with a ghost story of sorts in the present day, and the world is not there for us at the start. It is the real world, but viewed through a unique and interesting lens.
Maguire presents us with just as complex and ambivalent a heroine here as in _Wicked_. There are two narrative voices -- that of Winnie, and that of Winnie's character, Wendy, in the novel that Winnie is trying to write. As we all know, all characters in all works of fiction are in some way distillations of the author and friends and life. Plot points and locations are often taken from real life and manipulated to fit the story, and we learn most important information about Winnie's real life and real wounds through her attempt at a novel. It is a very simple but very effective technique, especially because Maguire's book is also a meditation on the way we construct narratives from our lives, both about ourselves and our place in the world, and about ghosts and the nature of haunting in our lives.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Lost," which examines, deconstructs, and riffs on English children's stories (to say nothing of Dante's Inferno) begins with a blocked hack writer named Winifred Rudge leaving her native Boston for a visit to her step-cousin's flat in London-a flat in a house that, we are told, was built by one of her ancestors, a man who may have been the inspiration for Dickens's Scrooge.
On her arrival Winnie finds her step-cousin absent and the apartment in the possession of two looney contractors, who are building an illegal stairway to the roof.
Winnie tries to cope, ordering the contractors about and making myriad and unsuccessful efforts to find her step-cousin, John Comestor, and meeting a series of eccentric people. Unlike the "Alice" stories, however, Winnie is less mentally competent (and far less likable) than Lewis Carroll's practical little girl, while the professor of medieval history, the spiritualist, the dotty old lady, and the woman who casts children's hands for a living are clever for the most part, and more than somewhat sympathetic. And, if this weren't enough, the place is quite possibly haunted. And the ghost is possibly Jack the Ripper's.
Well now!
Author Gregory Maguire, best-known for his clever "Wicked," a re-write of "The Wizard of Oz" told from the witch's point of view, ventures forth here without a safety net, concocting a story that's all his own. Without the constraints of having to hew to the plot lines of a tale familiar to us all (he couldn't have let the witch survive, now could he?) this time out Maguire creates something that's all his. And in doing so he manages to make what at first seems hauntingly terrifying in the end quite explicable, if no less disturbing. It frightens, but maybe not in the way you'd expect.
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