The Tyranny of Lost Things by Rhiannon Cosslett

The Tyranny of Lost Things is, at its best, a nostalgia-popping look at the place past countercultural lifestyles holds in contemporary consciousness, an intergenerational exploration, and a warning against romanticising the past.

Book Review by Laura Waddell | 12 Jul 2018
  • Tyranny of Lost Things
Book title: The Tyranny of Lost Things
Author: Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett

Harmony returns to the north London house her bohemian parents once lived in, driven to understand her 80s childhood growing up in a commune there.

Cosslett’s journalistic background reveals itself in the neatly flowing sentences of her debut novel. She ekes out vulnerabilities of the taciturn Northerner and flighty rich girl flatmates with realistic dialogue and an occasional sharp pinpoint of societal insight, describing old money “…as if they inhabited a series of closed-off rooms, all joined so that those that walked within them never had to feel the cold of the outside air, never had to make conversation at the bus stop.”

At points probably most interesting to the self-declared eccentric Harmony herself than to the reader, her personal nostalgia of childhood habits veers more towards self-indulgence than introspection, until the slow burn of secrets from Harmony’s past which so obsess her provides a solid hook. In a series of flashbacks and intriguing correspondence with a troubled neighbour who once lived in her parents' commune, it becomes clear the bohemian utopia was not all it promised.

The Tyranny of Lost Things is, at its best, a nostalgia-popping look at the place past countercultural lifestyles holds in contemporary consciousness, an intergenerational exploration, and a warning against romanticising the past. 

Sandstone, out now, £8.99. http://sandstonepress.com/books/the-tyranny-of-lost-things