In Zagreb, a couple discovers a museum that displays mementos of broken relationships. A whirlwind summer of reconnecting with lost pasts follows.
Tyler is in therapy. Katia and Goran are in love. On a summer trip to Zagreb, the couple discover an unusual museum that displays mementos of broken relationships. Inside, 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.
What follows is a whirlwind summer of reconnecting with lost pasts: Goran confronts the youth he lost during the Yugoslav Wars, Katia heads to Brazil to find her roots, and Afghanistan veteran Tyler pours out his soul. Set against alternating backdrops of violent circumstances, this novel is a soulful testament to the resilience of the human heart.
Every once in a while you read a book that really speaks to you – that might be in its structure, its subject matter, its tone – or in the case of this book – all three at once! I was delighted to be asked to join the Blog Tour on Anne Cater’s birthday and I’d like to take this chance to wish her a very happy birthday from all the bloggers she works with through #RandomThingsTours
I love a book that confounds all my expectations, but this unusual and creative novel certainly does. It really appealed to me even before reading it as I loved the concept behind it. The fact that I’ve always wanted to go to Zagreb also helped me fall in love with this complex and inspirational tale.
You can only imagine how excited I was when I found out that this place actually exists ad it was all I could do to stop myself packing my bags for Zagreb when I discovered that it would be possible to experience this for myself.
We all have experienced relationships that just haven’t worked. Whether you are sentimental or not, experiencing the breakdown of a relationship and feeling some of those emotions can definitely be an overwhelming feeling. I’ve never been to such a personalised museum but I really felt like we were able to access some of its atmosphere filtered through these experiences and it was described so evocatively I really felt like I was experiencing it through Goran’s eyes. From first love that ended badly through sad separations, we are drawn through these reminisces and re-live so many memorable moments with the objects of the museum – and what could be more unexpected than finding an exhibit from your own life.
This novel allows us to follow the life of Goran through his past and discover all the complex events that led us here. I was really intrigued to find out more about his life and those he intersects with. From the Balkan wars to Afghanistan and then to far away Brazil, we join characters on personal journeys into their own hearts and find out that our experiences do not have to define us – which certainly added an extra dimension for me as I read. I became engrossed in all of the overlaying stories and the unspoken motivations behind them and often found myself lost in thought about the other stories that ‘might have been’
Barker is such a skilled writer that he does ask us to consider why these characters might behave the way they have with a light touch, and this allows us to build our empathy for them the more we read on and find out their stories – whilst learning that everyone does ‘walk their own path’ on this life’s journey.
Even though I am not a true romantic myself, the description of Goran’s past love story and those of the others was skilfully conveyed. You could absolutely believe in their stories of loss, love and redemption in this complex and fascinating novel. It was the kind of story that you will return to because of the depth of emotoions conveyed by the characters and the way it prompts you to think about your own wrong paths and broken dreams along the way…
I would like to thank Anne Cater for a copy of The Museum Of Lost Love to read and review and for inviting me on the tour. It makes me so happy to encounter books through my blogging that I might otherwise never have encountered and I love sharing my views with others so that they might get the chance to pick up something different and love it too.
Writer On The Shelf
Gary Barker, PhD is a leading researcher on men’s use of violence and pathways to non-violence in both conflict and non-conflict settings, and a global voice for engaging men in healthy masculinities and gender equality.
He holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Duke University and PhD in Developmental Psychology from Loyola University-Chicago. He is the founder of Promundo, an international organization that works in post-conflict Africa, Latin America and in the Middle East to prevent violence. Gary Barker has led global action to engage men as fathers, including co-authoring the first ever State of the World’s Fathers (2015) and the first ever State of America’s Fathers.
He has been awarded an Ashoka Fellowship and an Open Society Fellowship for his research and activism. In 2019 he was named by Apolitical as one of the 100 most influential persons in gender equality globally. He has also been a Weissberg Scholar at New York University and holds a Senior Researcher position at the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
His four novels — Luisa’s Last Words, The Afghan Vampires Book Club, Mary of Kivu and Museum of Lost Love – draw on these experiences and have been praised for creating stories of “grace and passion” out some of the world’s most violent places.
“…these interconnected stories are both achingly affecting and archly realistic…A moving book about young survivors of armed―and especially unarmed―conflict.” ―KIRKUS
“Gary Barker writes as beautifully and efficiently as any writer I’ve read―not an unnecessary sentence in the entire book. He is Hemingway without the false macho energy, and The Museum of Lost Love is an extraordinary testament to the enduring power of our pasts.” ―RICHARD REYES-GAVILAN, Executive Director, Washington DC Public Libraries
“Inspired by an actual museum in Croatia, in his Museum of Lost Love Gary Barker brings to life an ensemble of characters striving to express love, kindness, bravery and integrity in a world where war, genocide, rape, torture and trauma prevail. At a time when ugliness and despair threaten the most resolute faith, Barker brings us a moral tale that contrasts the high and the low roads. In the end, as he follows several men and women to stirring resolutions, we are, somehow, both gripped by their tragedies and uplifted by their humanity.” ―Michael Reichert, PhD, author of How to Raise a Boy: The Power of Connection to Build Good Men
“War and love are eternal subjects of literature. Therefore, writing about it requires not only a brave, but also skillful writer . Using The Museum of Lost Love as his frame an mixing documents and stories, Gary Barker found an interesting way to connect his lovers over time and continents, telling about their moving, hopeless, tragic but also fulfilling struggle for love.” ―Slavenka Drakulic
“The emotional heft of The Museum of Lost Love is obvious from the first page and never lets up. The characters breathe, they love, they mourn. They stay with you.” ―JENNIFER FOX, Writer/Director/Producer of the award-winning film The Tale