top of page

What Was Lost by Jean Levy : A Review

Something terrible has happened to successful children’s writer Sarah, but she doesn’t know what it is. All she knows is that it was enough to wipe her mind of memories.

Without her past she is lost, drifting, friendless, her life reduced to the protected one of a child.

Specialists tell her that she must retrieve her memory of what bought her to be found, unconscious, bloodied and frozen, on a beach miles from her London home. And the police are interested too.

But perhaps some things are best left forgotten …

Some things are best left forgotten, woahh what has happened that is best forgotten? That is what drew me into the book and I am delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour.

We meet Sarah in hospital in Episode One, I like that each chapter is called an episode and she leads the narrative for the book. Not a lot is given away about Sarah but that all helps with the psychological edge of seat feeling. As Sarah gets back into her daily life she learns again how to do the shopping, answer the phone - all those things we do without a second glance. She also has no recollection she is the author of the Lost Series. She meets Matthew in the supermarket and it's certainly endearing to watch that relationship evolve.

I always struggle with writing a review and not giving the plot away so I will stop there, needless to say you will be stomping through the episodes like I did!

This book was so fascinating and a gripping read. Funnily enough I was sent a photograph by my mother of me on a bike in the 70s, I studied it to see what had changed and noticed there were some trees, yet in all the years of living there I had never remembered them. Which led me to think of What Was Lost and what do we really remember, like truly remember, and what is best left forgotten?

Jean Levy has had a varied career having worked in genetics research, the pharmaceutical industry and in academic publishing. She is currently completing a doctorate in Linguistics. She studied creative writing at the University of Sussex and lives with her husband in the South Downs. This is her first novel.

I am thrilled to include a Guest Post from Jean

The characters in What Was Lost are all fictional. But they are based on people that are real. Perhaps a little exaggerated here and there but, mostly, saying and thinking the things that real people might say and think if they found themselves presented with the crises I’ve created. In some way, that’s one of the benefits of reading psychological thrillers: you get to imagine how you would respond if you found yourself in a similar situation. For instance, Sarah, my main character, has become a stranger in her own world. All she once knew of her adult life has been erased because of something she cannot remember. Something that left her unconscious on a shoreline far from her London home. So now she lives a strange, monitored existence, with only her childhood memories to inform her. Her friends all seem to have abandoned her so there’s nobody left to tell her what happened on that cold, fateful afternoon when her past disappeared and her future became hopeless. Her excursions, into the world she must have once known, are punctuated by panic attacks and confusion. She has forgotten everyone she knew, the food she enjoyed, how to meet other people, certainly how to engage in a possible relationship with a handsome man who just happens to speak to her in a supermarket. And above all, she’s a writer, who can no longer remember how to write stories, because you write stories about the world that you know and about the things you believe. And how can Sarah know what she believes without those past experiences?

What would you do if you lost your past? Although rare, it’s a predicament that some real people have had to cope with, perhaps following an accident, a physical or psychological trauma. Myself included. I lost a chunk of my memories following minor surgery and it’s an unnerving experience, knowing not that something has just slipped your mind but that a whole stretch of weeks has been lost, however hard people try to remind you, and however easily you can remember times before and after. Those memories in between have been replaced by a black nothing of scorched neurons and disconnected synapses. So, I suppose that was part of my inspiration. But What Was Lost is fiction. And the reason Sarah can’t remember is fortunately something that did not happen to me. It’s the mystery that slowly unravels as the pages turn and as, one by one, the people from her past make themselves known to her. Can they help Sarah recover her memories? Perhaps. But, should they? Because whatever happened to Sarah must have been very bad. So bad that, four months later, the police are still pursuing their enquiries. It might just be that, despite her desire to remember, Sarah will discover that some things are best left forgotten.

Thank you to Emily at D H H Literary Agency and Jean Levy for sending me a review copy, I'm sure this book will enjoy much success!

What Was Lost is published by The Dome Press.


bottom of page