Book Review: The Museum of Things Left Behind

Thursday 23 April 2015 by

The Museum of Things Left Behind, Fourth Estate, Book, Seni GlaisterThe Museum of Things Left Behind by Seni Glaister

Published by Fourth Estate

Publishing 21st May

Vallerosa is every tourist’s dream – a tiny, picturesque country surrounded by lush valleys and verdant mountains; a place sheltered from modern life and the rampant march of capitalism. But in isolation, the locals have grown cranky, unfulfilled and disaffected. In the Presidential Palace hostile Americans, wise to the country’s financial potential, are circling like sharks…

Can the town’s clock be fixed? Can the local bar owners be reconciled? Can an unlikely visitor be the agent of change and rejuvenation this broken idyll is crying out for?

Full of wisdom, humour and light, The Museum of Things Left Behind is a heart-warming fable for our times that asks us to consider what we have lost and what we have gained in modern life. A book about bureaucracy, religion and the people that really get things done, it is above all else a hymn to the constancy of time and the pivotal importance of a good cup of tea.


I was delighted with my selection for this month’s Curtis Brown Book Group; The Museum of Things Left Behind struck me as a sweet tale of the discovery of identity and the importance of tea.

The bumbling president and his band of merry mishaps run the tiny country of Vallerosa with a mixture of mistake and good intentions. But the vultures are closing in – in the form of money-grabbing Americans – and it isn’t until Lizzie arrives that things begin to change for the better.

In an unfortunate circumstance of miscommunication, Sergio the president believes that Lizzie is a royal from the United Kingdom, and although the mistake is quickly amended, it is decided (perhaps mistakenly) that the deception should be continued, for the sake of the people.

So begins a game of misdemeanour, mishap and political wrangling. Sergio is a foolish, paranoid president, whose heart is in the right place. And Lizzie is a well-meaning fire cracker, who rings changes the likes of Vallerosa have never seen before.

This is political and moral satire. There are so many morals to the tale that sometimes you are turned completely about. But it is a sweet and humorous story at the same time, and you can’t help but smile. I even laughed out loud at some points (which drew funny looks on the tube).

I was delighted by this book – it is sweet and honest and terribly tongue-in-cheek. It’s uplifting, honest and vicious in its parody. You want to visit Vallerosa and revel in their beauty and innocence, and shake them in frustration at the same time. Between the rivalry in the bars, the obsession with tea, and the broken clock, Vallerosa is a magical land. The story is neat and tidy in its execution, which sits perfectly with the characters and their political must-haves and must-dos.

It is quietly perfect, with a joyous ending that leaves you feeling satisfied and delighted. What a wonder. It makes me wish that Vallerosa existed.

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