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The Collector of Lost Things: A Novel

Overview

By critics' favorite Jeremy Page, an arctic adventure story fueled by obsession, passion, and gothic influenceThe year is 1845 and young researcher Eliot Saxby is paid to go on an expedition to the Arctic in the hope of finding remains of the by-now-extinct Great Auk, a large flightless bird of mythical status.
Eliot joins a hunting ship, but the crew and the passengers are not what they seem. Caught in the web of relationships on board, Eliot struggles to understand the ...
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The Collector of Lost Things

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Overview

By critics' favorite Jeremy Page, an arctic adventure story fueled by obsession, passion, and gothic influenceThe year is 1845 and young researcher Eliot Saxby is paid to go on an expedition to the Arctic in the hope of finding remains of the by-now-extinct Great Auk, a large flightless bird of mythical status.
Eliot joins a hunting ship, but the crew and the passengers are not what they seem. Caught in the web of relationships on board, Eliot struggles to understand the motivations of the sociopathic Captain Sykes; the silent First Mate, French; the flamboyant laudanum-addicted Bletchley; and most importantly of all, Bletchley’s beautiful but strange “cousin” Clara.
As the ship moves further and further into the wilds of the Arctic Sea, Eliot clings to what he believes in, desperate to save Clara but irrevocably drawn back into a past that haunts him—and a present that confronts him with a myriad of dangers.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/18/2013
Moody and affecting prose buoys this strange and troubling account of an Arctic ocean voyage to the end of the earth, and the end of a species. Naturalist Eliot Saxby sails forth on the Amethyst in 1845 in an attempt to find surviving specimens of the Great Auk, a large waterfowl hunted to extinction, but the expedition quickly becomes an interior exploration of connections among the ship's officers, passengers, and captain, a troubled lot. Saxby is drawn to Clara, a mysterious figure who accompanies her cousin Bletchley, a novice gentleman hunter, but he is haunted by his previous history with this frail, troubled woman, whom he knows as Celeste. Her reasons for being aboard the ship are as arbitrary as Saxby's, whose mission is undertaken to settle a wager between unnamed gentlemen in a London club. The oppressive shipboard atmosphere builds in a somewhat overwrought manner reminiscent of 19th century gothic novels, but Page's descriptions of being under sail, and of the harsh and beautiful setting of the Arctic regions are gorgeous. Equally powerful passages about the reality of hunting and collecting are unsettling, from a brutal depiction of a seal hunt to the senseless killing of a pair of whales. The tension between Saxby's starkly defined moral sensibilities and the commercial motivations of the volatile Captain Sykes and his crew gives way to the narrator's own interior struggles, which are more complex than they first appear to be. (Dec.)
The Hartford Courant
“Gorgeous in the telling and heartbreaking in its message, Salt is truly a book to savor.”
The Guardian
“Page writes with feeling and intimacy, his touch is poetic and sure. The novel's sense of the natural world is fine and compelling. A powerful vision.”
Richard Rodriguez
“Jeremy
Page has created an astonishing prose that conveys the unspeakable mystery that is at the center of love and love’s aftermath.”
Time Out New York
“Gripping . . . buoyant.”
Rose Tremain
“Stunningly good.
Captures the landscapes with a truly deft, water-colorist's touch. His ear for cadence is extremely acute.”
Richard Eder - The Los Angeles Times

Praise for Salt and Sea ChangeThrilling and memorable.

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-10-05
Eliot Saxby, the collector of the title and narrator of the book, heads for the Arctic in search of the elusive--and perhaps extinct--great auk. The year is 1845, and Saxby makes his treacherous voyage on behalf of some English gentlemen who have a bet about whether there are any great auks that remain alive. Capt. Sykes is at the helm of the Amethyst, and he heads a crew of hardy and hardened sailors. Incongruously, also on the journey is one Edward Bletchley, an English gentleman, along with his cousin (or perhaps "cousin") Clara, an attractive young woman. Sykes has been paid to veer off his usual course to accommodate the ornithological pursuit of the naturalist Saxby. Although one mystery in the novel obviously involves the search for the last of the great auks, another involves Saxby's certainty that, 10 years earlier, he had gotten to know Clara under a different name, "Celeste," when he worked for her father, though Clara has no recollection of ever having met Saxby. They form a bond, and both become greatly excited when they discover a small colony of great auks on a remote island. Excitement turns to outrage, however, when Sykes announces that he plans to kill the last of the birds and thus guarantee their extinction, and their skins will therefore be immensely valuable to collectors and museums. Saxby watches helplessly while Sykes' crew methodically kills the auks, but he's able to conceal an injured auk on board. He and Clara carefully tend the auk, feeding it and nursing it. Miraculously, the auk even lays an egg, assuring the further existence of the species, but Sykes and his duplicitous first mate, Quinlan French, turn out to know more than Saxby suspects. Page shapes a fascinating historical narrative and has moving insights into our sometimes-dubious relationship to the natural world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781605984858
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 12/7/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 831,458
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy Page, the author of Salt and Sea Change, works as a script editor and writer for FilmFour and the BBC. He lives in London.
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