I told some friends about The Long Forgotten the other day. I said that I’d just finished a book about someone going on a mission to find the rarest flowers in the world. They told me, in no uncertain terms, that it sounded shit. They are all philistines. I had to agree though, it’s not necessarily the sort of read that I’d seek out or choose out of a pile (although the cover for the hard back is gorgeous, which does help). But my friends are wrong, as is often the case, because this book is great.
The Long Forgotten has a slightly unearthly theme but still manages to follow the lives of men who on the face of it, are a bit odd and a bit dull. The first chapter got me hooked and that hasn’t happened for a while. I keep reading slow burners, so it was nice to feel enthralled from the outset. The story takes the reader to lots of different places, in different times, and it’s paced well enough so you don’t feel lost along the way.
The author is David Whitehouse, also wrote Mobile Library, which I really liked, which is kind of about kids being shit to each other (but actually it’s as much about adults being shit to each other too) and finding solace in a mobile library and which also had the same rather, how would I say it, fluid, use of time and events (i.e he doesn’t bother himself with keeping to reality too much, but I liked it for that – books are meant to be for escapism after all).
He’s obviously big on PR for his books too – The Long Forgotten came complete with a postcard with a handwritten list of all the rare flowers (this is an integral part of the story) and a very beautifully pressed flower, which was a lovely touch. The writing is quite flowery, and some of the phrases he uses could be construed as overdone or pretentious, but I genuinely think that the story line and the characters win you round and all in all it was a really great read. Highly recommended.