Hello blog readers and book lovers. Today I am joining in the Blog Tour for The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker, organised by Randomthingstours.
With its beginnings in Croatia, it brought back memories of a wonderful trip to the former Yugoslavia which I took before the war which split the country apart. It reminded me that the place I explored no longer exists and as well as the country being fractured and broken, it's people are damaged by the atrocities too.
My review – The Museum of lost love – Gary Barker
Today I’m sharing my review of the Museum of Lost love by Gary Barker for the Blog Tour organised by Randomthingstours.
This is a short book, practically a novella so if you’re looking for a quick read this might easily fit the bill.
Set in Croatia, after the recent war which ripped the country apart, this is mainly about a couple, Katia and Goran and a third character Tyler who is also suffering the aftershock of war, he has fought in Afghanistan and it has left him a broken man. The stories of these characters meander about, intertwining and crossing.
Goran and Katia visit a rather unusual museum in Zagreb, which is apparently based on a real exhibition. The museum of lost love displays all kinds of random memorabilia each item accompanied by a letter from the owner explaining why this object reminds them of a past love and each short chapter is preceded by one such exhibit, which is an unusual and original concept. Clothes and small mementoes line the shelves each accompanied by a letter from the owner telling why their heart is broken.
The museum seemed to me like a rather mawkish and grim idea, but it helped me to grasp that this country is a place so ravaged by war that all which remains for many is a few broken belongings and a handful of memories of better times.
Some of the short tales about broken relationships are utterly heartbreaking and all the more poignant in that most of them are people who don’t even feature in the book so you know nothing else about their lives except their heartache yet they are opening their hearts to a bunch of strangers. It’s not really about the exhibits, in fact I must confess I felt a little uncomfortable finding that some of the “exhibits” were used sex toys (Eeewwww), but it's about the letters and stories which accompany them.
When Katia and Goran pay a visit to the titular museum one exhibit jumps out at Goran. The accompanying story was written by a young girl of fourteen in a refugee camp and he is convinced he is the lost love she writes so poignantly about. He feels he must find out what happened to her.
As he tries to rekindle his lost youth and track her down, Katia too faces her demons and heads off the favelas of Brazil where her own past lies hidden.
What follows is fractured story of damaged people, uncovering past tragedies and memories of appalling atrocities, broken promises and lost hope which is, in turn, haunting and uplifting. Featuring actual conflict and conflicting emotions generated by the siblings of love and hatred it's not an easy read but very compelling.
In Zagreb is an unusual museum: it displays mementos of broken relationships. Each exhibit describes a unique story of a broken heart, of love gone awry.
When Katia and Goran visit the museum, Goran stumbles upon an exhibit that seems to be addressed to him, from a girl he met in a Sarajevo refugee camp at age fourteen. A reminder of two days spent together while he and his mother and brother waited anxiously for visas to America to escape the war.
Encouraged by Katia, a therapist, to reconnect with his lost past, Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars. Similarly Katia, adopted by Americans at one week old after her birth mother was murdered in a gangland killing in Brazil, heads back to Brazil to uncover her own family history.
Meanwhile Tyler, a military veteran and one of Katia’s patients, attempts to put the Afghan war behind him, and finds love in unexpected circumstances.
Drawing upon his own experiences working in conflict zones, Gary Barker’s powerful novels dive deep into human love and longing. Crossing continents, and set against backdrops of war, deprivation, and violence, The Museum of Lost Love is a soulful testament to the resilience of the human heart.
GARY BARKER is an author, researcher, and human rights activist. He is founder and director of Promundo, an international organization that works with men and boys in more than 25 countries to achieve gender equality and end violence against women. He has been awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship for his work in conflict zones. His previous novels include Luisa’s Last Words, Mary of Kivu, and The Afghan Vampires Book Club (co-written with Michael Kaufman). Barker lives in Washington, DC.
Critical acclaim for Gary Barker:
‘Partly a satirical broadside against the insanity of war by two writers who have spent years campaigning against violence, The Afghan Vampires Book Club also works as a conspiracy thriller, speculative fiction, and full-on descent into hell.’ Herald