I have enjoyed reading this so much, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to it between reading sessions and thinking about it when I was away from it. Stella Duffy is coming to Dunedin next month for the Writers and Readers Festival and I’m looking forward to meeting her. I had read her earlier books ages ago but this one I think is the best one I’ve encountered. Robert Sutton is ready to retire, for all of his life he has been running the dry cleaners in a suburban London street. By cleaning the local residents clothing he has an insight into their lives, their misfortunes, their affairs of every kind. People leave clues to their lives in their pockets, things like keys, receipts, jewellery and letters. Robert, and his mother before him have been collecting these lost things and storing them. Collecting them together, filing them in a special system and keeping them in a room above the shop secretly but methodically. Robert has had his challenges, his mother who was quite the handful, his wife who left him and took their daughter, but he is someone who the neighbourhood appreciates and who has a way about him which people appreciate. He is opinionated but kind and above all sometimes the only friendly face in a life of strangers.
Akeel is going to buy the business, he is earnest and willing and while he has major plans to make changes he agrees to work alongside Robert, learning the trade and being Robert’s right hand man. It is a relationship which is sometimes tense but also one in which the two men gradually become close and able to share their secrets.
This is a gorgeous slice of life. All the customers, their stories, the kids who hang around the shop, the pub across the road, the lives of ordinary people who live ordinary lives but who are in their own ways extraordinary. Ahhhhh it was lovely!