ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Preloved by Lauren Bravo

Preloved by Lauren Bravo will be published on 27th April by Simon & Schuster in hardcover, ebook and audiobook. My thanks to Jess Barratt for the proof copy which, in the spirit of charity shops and being eco-friendly, is fully recyclable, but my copy will be cycling its way onto my ‘to keep’ pile.

Gwen is coasting through life. She’s in her mid-thirties, perpetually single, her friends are busy procreating in the countryside and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around the council’s wheelie-bin timetable.

And she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone?

When she’s made redundant from a job she hardly cares about, she takes herself out for a fancy dinner. There she has the best sticky toffee pudding of her life and realises she has no one to tell. She vows to begin living her life fully, reconnect with her friends and family, and finally book that dentist’s appointment.

Gwen decides to start where all things get a second chance: her local charity shop. There, with the help of the weird and wonderful people and donated items bursting with untold stories, Gwen will find a way to move forward with bravery, tenacity, and more regular dental care.

Dazzlingly witty, Preloved is a tale about friendship, loss and being true to yourself no matter the expectations. Lovingly celebrating the enduring power and joy of charity shops.

Preloved is all about Gwen. In her late-thirties, she’s just been made redundant and realises that she’s feeling a bit redundant in her life generally. She makes a list and at the top of it is ‘Find something to do”. Taking that on board she volunteers at her local charity shop, working alongside some real characters and it’s where Gwen finds out what she wants from her life and starts to forge a new future for herself.

This book is everything I want my books to be. It’s incredibly funny and I guffawed out loud so many times, but behind the veil of humour there are serious and touching day to day issues such as changing friendships, dealing with loss, a lack of love life, parental problems, career woes and more. I found it incredibly relatable – somehow Lauren Bravo managed to hone in on things that seemed so personally relevant to me and I suspect other readers will find the same but with different subjects. Because of this I savoured every word. It’s the kind of book where I want to take my time to read every bit and take it in. It completely hit the spot with me and is observed perfectly.

I so enjoyed the detail of the shop, the stock, the customers, the volunteers. When I was at school I did two stints volunteering in a charity shop. It’s a long time ago now but I loved it and this book reminded me of why. Not just the glow that comes of doing something for others, but the joy of going through the donations and finding treasures. Intertwined with Gwen’s story we are treated to some gloriously circular vignettes about certain donations and how they found their way into the shop.

Preloved is beautiful inside and out. The characters are everything and they’re brilliantly drawn. All of human life passes through the door of the charity shop which is a character in its own right. My copy will be staying with me but if you ever see one in a charity shop then I urge you to pick it up and give it a home. You won’t be disappointed. Bravo, Ms Bravo!

Lauren Bravo is a freelance journalist who writes about fashion, popular culture, food, travel and feminism, for titles including Grazia, Stylist, Cosmopolitan and Sunday Times Style. She volunteers in a charity shop once a week (partly to get dibs on all the best clothes).

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