The Lost Properties of Love

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: Not set

Member Reviews

The Lost Properties of Love is a beautiful book that is part fiction and part memoir. Each chapter takes place during a different train journey and it’s a stunning look at life and love.

The book is set out in chapters that are headed with a train journey’s departure and end point and a date. It roughly follows a chapter of the author’s reminisces about her own life followed by a chapter about Trollope and his muse, Kate Field, or of thoughts on the fictional Anna Karenina.

You soon get a sense that Sophie Ratcliffe is exploring the pivotal moments in her life that have made her who she is. The loss of her father when she was just a young teenager, the affair she had with an older married man a few years later are the main events and she ruminates on these from different angles, and from different stages in her life. She compares her emotions to how Anna Karenina might have felt, and she considers the affair Trollope possibly had with his muse Kate Field and how she may have felt.

There are different textures of loss. The lost hope we find again, and the lost that we think is gone for ever. The loss of an object in the silt of mud, the loss of a smell or sound. People are lost to us, or make themselves lost.

The author’s thoughts on the loss of her beloved father were what I most identified with. The loss of a parent changes you in ways you can’t imagine until you’ve experienced it. The quote below, for all its simplicity, took all the air out of my lungs for a few moments because this is exactly how it is. You have belongings and people and one day you may well lose them, and they may well be lost forever.

The thing about having stuff, like handbags, or mementos, or fathers, is that you might lose them.

The book also explores our relationship to objects, and to the way we all lead our lives. The protagonist in this book struggles to organise the mess in her home, and at one stage ruminates that the mess is now condensed in her handbag. I could really identify with this. I finally got on top of all of my mess last year but I still feel the pull to gather stuff around me when I’m feeling down. Sophie Ratcliffe’s description of Anna Karenina’s red handbag and the things inside it brought a lump to my throat.

There are some gorgeous references to books in this book too, which I adored and so identified with. Also The Lost Properties of Love has really made me want to re-read Anna Karenina very soon, and it’s always good to be reminded of a book that you loved many years ago and have yet to revisit.

There’s a reason one of the greatest novels in English begins with it heroine’s delight that there was no possibility of taking a walk that day. There’s a reason Jane Eyre appeals to teenagers. There are no window seats on family walks. You cannot read a book while walking with your family.

This whole book is a meander through a life, in the way a train journey meanders through landscapes; it’s a gorgeous way to reflect on life. The time on a train gives us a chance to ponder and to think and this book is such a wonderful reading experience; it also made me think about events in my own life and to ponder them from different angles.

The Lost Properties of Love is such a beautiful book, and one that has been lingering in my mind ever since I finished reading it. I already feel that it’s a book I want to re-read, that it’s a book that will reward me for re-reading it and I don’t often get that feeling about a book. I recommend this one!
Was this review helpful?
A young Sophie loses her father to cancer and this sets her life feeling like she lost such a big loss, she is looking for her loss everywhere and anywhere she goes. How much one loss can affect your life and even

This is half fiction and half true account of this authors life, her thoughts, secrets, love, affairs, loss and illness\disease etc

She shares her love of literacy mainly through Anna Karenina and Kate Field Characters. And she talks about how her life has many similarities to the characters above.

It is a shorter and a quick read coming in at just under 260 pages. It is excellently written.

Each chapter is a train journey from all different place.

But even though it is a short read, you will need to sit somewhere quiet to absorb Sophies funny and brilliant words.

It is honest, funny and thought-provoking.

A book that will be perfect for those who have loved and lost, who loves positivity, honesty, sometimes Laugh out Loud tellings and mother/parenthood.

A book that is thought-provoking, feel-good, emotive in so many ways, from different kinds of love and grief.

A book for looking back at the past, the memories, who love books and travelling.

Who loves fiction and memoirs who want something a little different to drive into.
Was this review helpful?
This is a sumptuously written book. The writing is simply breathtaking. Sophie Ratcliffe has opened her whole self up and poured her inner most thoughts into this unique memoir. She speaks of loves lost and found, of journeys taken and not and of joys and sorrows. And everything is so searingly honest. There is a mesmerising rawness to this book. 
"Perhaps all of us hide our lives in fictions. Many books are love letters. Perhaps this one is too. For the more you look into any book, the more secrets it contains. They open up before us, like a series of Russian nesting dolls in reverse, taking us into ever larger worlds."

She writes of a love affair her younger self had with a married man and juxtaposes it against her own now married life. 
"Standing at one end of the church, I knew that my heart had my husband-to-be in it. It was, as hearts go, full. But it wasn't necessarily just full of him. It also had you in it. And the barman. And that man who used to sell antiques at the corner of the road. And my old art teacher. And the man who ran the bookshop. And the one I dated but couldn't commit to. And all the heroes and heroines I'd read about in storybooks. I kept this from him as I walked down the aisle. It was my secret. All these other loves, or nearly loves, are built up in the layers of my heart. Romantic cholesterol. But even a congested heart still beats." 

And she speaks of the change that early loss of a parent has on a life and how she names it Loss, carries that Loss, uses that Loss, lets herself be defined by that Loss.
"The true sadness of grief is mixed up with feelings that you are never sad enough. That you are doing it wrongly, or selfishly, or theatrically. And it's far beneath any arrangements of words on a page. It feels as if someone is scraping a grapefruit spoon on the inside of your stomach."

She questions endings and beginnings and blurs the line between the two. And uses the story of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and Kate Field, the suspected muse of Anthony Trollope, to both enhance her own stories of love and loss and also to nearly blur the line between truth and fiction... It's hard to describe but truly is a fascinating storytelling device. 

This is a book to sit quietly with. A book that encourages silent reflection and a book that many will see parts of their own soul within its pages. 
"We do not, I think, get lost in books, so much as catch and lose and tangle their details in the narratives of our own lives."

Four and a half stars

*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher, Harper Collins UK: William Collins, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotations used in this review were checked against the final published hardback.*
Was this review helpful?
I think that the problem with books like this is that, whether or not a reader likes them is ultimately decided by how much they take a shine to their author. And unfortunately, I really didn’t gel with Sophie Ratcliffe. 
I’m sorry! Don’t hate me. I am sure she is lovely, but there is something about her in the words of this novel that, despite the bloody amazing writing and the oodles of wondrous literary criticism, makes me not like her. And honestly, I think that’s because of how she treated her husband and children.
Within a few pages of reading, it is immediately clear why she chose Anna Karenina to focus much of this book on - the Russian classic that charts the most iconic affair in the history of literature - because, throughout Lost Properties of Love, Sophie Ratcliffe juxtaposes the novel with her own memories of an affair she once had with a much older man, whilst the two of them were both already in relationships. 
Which is, you know, all well and good (you do you and all that), but by concentrating all of her thoughts and attentions on this single figure and experience in her life, it makes all of the rest of it seem hollow. The man is dying, the affair was decades ago, she has led so much life since then and yet, her "current life" does not even warrant more than a passing mention.
Maybe this was Sophie Ratcliffe’s intention: to make everything feel cold except for this man, and if it was, congratulations to her, but I do not know how I feel about that. 
Love is love, and love is wonderful, but does one single experience of it mean that she has never loved any other person, not even her husband? That her love for this other man eclipses it? If so, then why on earth did she marry him?
Honestly I wish I knew, if only for the simple fact that I think I would have really liked liking this book.
Was this review helpful?
When I started reading I thought it was going to make me sad, but then i laughed and cried and giggled and felt that this author had captured so many of the dilemmas and tragedies in my own life.........it comes from her honesty and empathy. This is a book I would like to read again and one I will give all of my daughters and best friends. and anyone I know who has struggled with love. Timeless and full of intriguing literary nudges. Highly recommend.
Was this review helpful?
An amazing journey for the reader, through hill and valley, highs and lows - exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Worth every penny to travel with the author together
Was this review helpful?
This book is a quick enjoyable read. It is part memoir. There are reflections and stories all packed together.

Thank you to Netgalley for my copy.
Was this review helpful?
I thought this was a beautiful book! A cleverly woven account of a very personal and moving experience of childhood loss, entwined with reflections of literary works, train journeys near and far, memories of lost love and musings on modern motherhood. I also loved the references to some classic 80s tunes which brought back my own memories of being a teenager at this time. I would highly recommend this book and look forward to future work by the author. With thanks to Netgalley for my advance reader copy.
Was this review helpful?
This is an extraordinary book. It draws on the author's personal experience of loss, explained very powerfully through the eyes of her teenage self. Her excoriatingly honest analysis of what effect it had on her future life is sometimes painful to read, but told with such wit and humour makes it gripping. I loved the interwoven links with train journeys, ancient and modern, and Anna Karenina and her handbag. I would love to read more by this author.
Was this review helpful?
Brilliant !  A train journey, a derailment, love, loss and Anna Karenina.  Such an interesting mix which surprised and intrigued me at every page.  Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with an advance reading copy.
Was this review helpful?
An utter joy to read. The honesty about the writers' feelings during relationships, marriage and motherhood is something we can empathise with and be amazed about her openness. The way she weaves her honest account of this, into the lives of fictional characters is unique and amazing. It's a fantastic read - many laugh out loud moments too. I have recommending this book to everyone I chat to - and will keep on recommending it! Thanks to Harper Collins for the advanced copy
Was this review helpful?
The honesty with which this book is written is both humbling and refreshing. A courageous and insightful account of love, loss and family life entwined with reflections on Tolstoy’s Anna  Karenina , Kate Field and Anthony Trollope. An account that those who have loved, lost and brought up young children will be deeply touched by and recognise themselves in. Train journeys are woven through the text helping to create the sense of a journey, of time travel, of changing eras. A wonderful book that made me both laugh and cry and delight in the detailed observation.
Was this review helpful?
Just wonderful. A book with as much head as heart. It is filled with ideas, knowledge and insight - but ultimately is about the universals of loss and love in all of its best forms. A real joy to read and experience.
Was this review helpful?
A incredibly moving memoir - tracing the days and months following her father's death (when she was in her early teens)  - and the derailing of a life as a result of bereavement. But also a compelling weaving of fictional lives and classic novels. The book is framed around train journeys. I loved the scenes of travel across different countries and over time. I read this in just two days and will reread. Would recommend to anyone who has lost someone close to them. Thanks to HarperCollins for this advance reading copy.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a wonderfully strange hodge podge of material. At bottom it's about love and about loss and what we do when those people we love leave us too early. It's a meditation on Anna Karenina and Tolstoy and trains. It's about memory and how it can bind us and free us. It's about navigating the hum drum every dayness of life and fitting into it the huge, aching rawness of loss and love. It's funny and sad and thoughtful and there were lots of little jewel like moments where I found myself sitting up and paying closer attention because I found myself right there on the page. I loved it.
Was this review helpful?
I started to read this book and at first I was finding it difficult with the way it bounced around. I have to admit that I did have to leave it for a while. I returned to it but still found it a strange mix, part story telling, part memoir.
Thank you to both NetGalley and Harper Collins uk for my eARC of this book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
Was this review helpful?
An unusual mix of memoir and literary criticism. With a focus on journeys, grief, families, motherhood, narratives.
Was this review helpful?
Very unique book that felt so personal as it is part memoir. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend
Was this review helpful?
A literary novel a mix of memoir a mix of story telling.A train ride  a memory of affairs life experiences add in Anna Karenina so unique so interesting so well written a wonderful novel an adventurous read.Highly recommend,
Was this review helpful?