I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Preloved by Lauren Bravo
Published by Simon & Schuster UK on 27th April 2023
Genres: Contemporary, Humour, Women's Literary Fiction
Source: from Netgalley
Gwen’s life has stalled. She’s in her mid-thirties, perpetually single, her friends are busy procreating in the country and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around herbaceous borders and the council’s wheelie-bin timetable. Above all she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone? When Gwen’s made redundant from a job she drifted into a decade ago and never left, she realises it’s time to make a change. Over what might be the best – and most solitary – meal she’s ever eaten, Gwen vows to find something meaningful to do with her life, reconnect with her family and friends – and finally book herself a dentist appointment. Her search for meaning soon leads her to volunteer in a local charity shop where she both literally and metaphorically unloads her emotional baggage. With the help of the weird and wonderful people she meets in the shop and the donated items bursting with untold stories that pass through its doors, Gwen must finally address the events and choices that led her to this point and find a way to move forward with bravery, humanity and more regular dental care. Brimming with life, love and the stories bound up in even the most everyday items, Preloved is a tale about friendship, loss, being true to oneself no matter the expectations – and the enduring power and joy of charity shops.
This is the first book I have read by Lauren. Our main character is Gwen. She decides to volunteer at a charity shop while figuring out what to do with her life. As the chapters progress we learn more about Gwen and her past. Gwen has a lot of unresolved grief and generally feels a bit lost. She’s not at the same life stage as her friends and that can make it hard to maintain friendships. At times I found Gwen hard to bond with but she was a generally likeable character.
The story is intertwined with snippets about certain items that end up at the charity shop. We get a little of their history and these are cleverly woven into the other characters in the story. These little snippets really make you think about what happens to items after we fill our bags and leave them at the charity shop. I really liked this element of the book.
For me, this book was quite a slow burner. It is peppered with witty stories, especially the clock one, and heartfelt moments. I found this to be an enjoyable escape from the world around me.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: