The Keeper of Lost Things - Ruth Hogan
Laura has just started a new job looking after a beautiful house and it's delightful but mysterious owner.
Eunice has just started a new job at a publishing company, with a boss who she will fall madly in unrequited love with.
The book follows the separate but intertwining stories of Laura and Eunice, focusing mostly on Laura. It shows the similarites and paralells between the 2 strangers, even though their stories are separated by a period of time.
Laura loves everything about the house and Anthony, it's owner. Though she has never been allowed in one particular room, his study. Apart from the study, Laura has free rein, lovingly keeping the house in perfect shape and making sure Anthony is also well looked after. At the same time it seems the house looks after her, helping to heal her past hurts and giving her hope.
When Anthony leaves Laura the house, she finally finds out what was in the locked room. It is full of lost things he has found and collected over the years. The task of trying to return the contents to as many of the original owners as possible is left to Laura and it seems extremely daunting. Luckily she finds support in unexpected places and with the help of new friends Freddy and Sushine it no longer seems as impossible as before. However, not everyone is as helpful and they find that a curious presence seems to be hindering their efforts.
By the end, one of the peculiar findings in the study leads to the Laura and Eunice finally meeting and they both get back the most important things they've been searching for.
Interspersed in the book are little stories to go with the objects, though I was never really sure if the stories were just Anthony's inventions of if they were actually true. I think maybe the reader is supposed to be unsure, as the lines are slightly blurred later on in the book.
I'm recommending this to everyone, it's a wonderful book with some hints of the possibility of magic.
I decided to call my cocktail The Lovely Tea martini (Sunshine is always making the lovely cup of tea!). A lot of tea cocktails use Earl Grey or green tea but my favourite is English breakfast and this is what I imagine they would be drinking in the book. I do love Jasmine tea as well and you can substitute any kind of tea you prefer for different flavours.
I used tea in 2 ways to really get the flavour but you can skip the gin infusion if you prefer. If you do decide to do it, it will need to be prepared in advance. Put some gin in a jar with a tea bag and leave to infuse for at least an hour. Longer will give a stronger flavour.
The tea also needs to be made early but this is just so it has enough time to cool. I used a tea bag in just a small amount of hot water so it could get really strong. When everything is ready, put 1 & 1/2 shots of the tea infused gin, a shot of tea, 1/2 shot of lemon juice and a squeeze of sugar syrup into a shaker with some ice. Shake well and strain into your glass.
I must admit that while the colour is not the most beautiful cocktail I've ever made, it does actually resemble tea and tastes delicious. Obviously I wouldn't advise making a whole mug of this but I just couldn't resist serving it in this very appropriate Christmas present I received last year!