Saturday, 25 January 2014

Collecting by Miranda Wilson - Thoughts

Collecting by Miranda Wilson

Review copy - Kindle

I won this book on The Library Thing and was asked to review it.  Miranda Wilson is a new writer from England and I believe this is her first book. 

Walter is a 69 year old man living in the family home in London.  Since his wife died 15 years previously he began obsessively collecting tiny things. Things that have been discarded in society. Pieces of insects, little beads, pieces of trees. Things he would find in gutters or streets outside his London home with a magnifying glass and pair of tweezers.

He collects things, bags them up in tiny bags and meticulously labels them with the street name on which it was found. He stores them in his downstairs bedroom.  

Walter’s son William of whom he is quite disappointed in has recently moved into Walter’s home with his wife Delores and infant daughter Millie in order to save money.  Walter is gradually being moved aside much like the things he collects. He is seen as no longer being useful.

William spends long hours away from home and his wife Delores increasingly begins to rely on Walter and they discover they have more in common than she does with her husband.

Walter’s collection is “discovered” by the local gallery woman and he begins to rise in the art world locally in London.  He is pulled in different directions by this change in his life, his relationship with Delores, the ongoing relationship with William until it all comes to a fairly explosive end.  

I enjoyed this book and thought it was a fine effort by the author.  If I could find fault with it at all it would be in the way she always made Walter so nervous, always mopping his brow by the new events in his life. I got tired of him always “mopping his brow’.  A finicky criticism but once I noticed it I saw it more and more.

This is a wonderful character study of Walter and Delores especially and of the art world and how Walter was so manipulated by it in order to make him more “saleable”.  

The characters and experiences he shares are very well written and I truly felt for all of the characters. Walter and Delores were especially believable. William was a character who you loved to not like and was more of a caricature of a bad husband but he comes around in the end which was quite realistic as he really needed to spend time with his father to get to know him.

I would certainly give this first novel a high standing and look forward to more work by this author. 


  1. As an ex-librarian-archivist, books about museums and the like, and about collectors, appeal to me. This sounds intriguing, Pam. I've given up on the LibraryThings early reviewers. I like my review books in paper and almost none in paper are available down under anymore. I think I"won" one about three years ago (in paper!).

  2. Interesting! As I was reading, I was thinking this would turn into the story of a hoarder - a house full of those garbage bags & his family trying to cope. This sounds like a much more intriguing story. I admit though that much of what I read about art these days leaves me baffled.


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