She's been lost since she was a baby, abandoned in a suitcase on the train from Paris to Liverpool. Ever since, she's waited in Lime Street station lost property for someone to claim her. It's been sixteen years, but she's still hopeful.
In the meantime, there are mysteries to solve: a suitcase that may have belonged to The Beatles, for one. And that stuffed monkey that someone keeps misplacing. But there is one mystery Martha has never been able to solve - until anonymous letters start to arrive that may hold the key to the past she longs to know.
Time is running out though - the authorities have found out about the girl in lost proerty, and if Martha can't discover who she really is, she will lose everything ....
The Finding of Martha Lost by Caroline Wallace is published by Doubleday (Transworld) on 10 March 2015
There can't be many writers who can turn an ordinary train station in the centre of a busy city into a magical world of wonder and discovery, but Caroline Wallace has done just that. The Finding of Martha Lost is a book that I have looked forward for many many months. I heard the author read from it at the Transworld event last year and was transfixed, my gasp, as she finished her reading was heard all over the room .... This story is beautifully told and that gasp was certainly not my last.
Martha is a sixteen-year-old girl who has never left Liverpool's Lime Street station. She was found there, and has stayed there. The woman who she called Mother always told her that if she left the station, it would crumble and be no more. Mother took Martha in when she was discovered abandoned on the Paris to Liverpool train, she gave her a home, but she didn't give her any love.
Despite that, Martha is a joyful, inquisitive girl who takes a thrill from spinning around the station concourse, eating lemon drizzle cake from the station cafe next to the Lost Property office and run by Martha's best friend Elizabeth. Martha loves to find things, she loves to return them to their owner. Martha loves lots of things. Martha sees and feels joy in her small world, she loves her friend Elizabeth who wears yellow stilettos and the latest fashions, who sings along to The Beatles and Cilla Black and protects Martha whilst still allowing her to find her own way.
Martha's skill for finding things, and her special magical touch that enables her to know just where a particular item was lost, and why, soon brings her to the attention of Max Cole, an Australian who is on the hunt for the lost ashes of Liverpool legend Mal Evans. Everyone in Liverpool knows about Mal; the Beatles' roadie and mate who was shot dead in America. His ashes went missing during the journey home to Liverpool. Max Cole claims that he's discovered an old suitcase full of Beatles' memorabilia and finding Mal's urn would make him a very rich man.
But, Martha needs to find the one thing that has always eluded her. Her identity. If she can't find out just who she really is and where she came from, then she will lose everything.
The Finding of Martha Lost is the heartbreaking, yet beautifully imagined story of how Martha begins to find herself. Accompanied by George, who dresses every day as a Roman soldier, and William who smells like a sewer and lives in the underground tunnels under the station, and of course, by Elizabeth - the colourful, loving cafe owner.
Caroline Wallace has cleverly interwoven the true story of Mal Evans and the missing suitcase into her fictional story of Martha and her missing heritage. Underneath Martha's joy and brightness is a startling vulnerability that only someone who has experienced pain could have expressed so beautifully. Her characters are all broken, yet are full of hope and belief, there is a darkness that overshadows each of them, yet as a team they are able to overcome their demons and begin to shine brightly.
This is a book that is written for book lovers and avid readers, by a book lover. When the reader discovers Martha's hidden book treasures they will feel delight and joy. It's like a Scouse Shadow of the Wind; the absolute love of the written word shines though, and Martha's explanation of how every book has more than one story will resonate with everyone that adores books and reading.
Love, being loved and how to love is the theme of this wonderful story, along with abandonment and rediscovery. Threaded with true Northern grit and Scouse humour, The Finding of Martha Lost is a story that should be savoured, enjoyed, digested and remembered for a long long time.
The Finding Of Martha Lost will be officially launched at an event at Waterstone's in Liverpool on Thursday March 10th at 6.30pm.
Tickets are £3 and everyone is welcome.
Caroline Wallace worked as a lecturer for several years before turning her hand to fiction.
She lives in Liverpool with her husband and their many children.
For more information about Caroline, and her books visit www.carolinewallace.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter @Caroline_S