Etta

Book Review: The Lost Ticket

Published June 9th 2022

Author: Freya Sampson

Strangers aboard a London bus unite to help an elderly man find his missed love connection in the heartwarming new novel from the author of The Last Chance Library.

When Libby Nicholls arrives in London, brokenhearted and with her life in tatters, the first person she meets on the bus is elderly Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 that he met a girl on the number 88 bus with beautiful red hair just like hers. They made plans for a date at the National Gallery art museum, but Frank lost the bus ticket with her number on it. For the past sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her, but with no luck.

Libby is inspired to action and, with the help of an unlikely companion, she papers the bus route with posters advertising their search. Libby begins to open her guarded heart to new friendships and a budding romance, as her tightly controlled world expands. But with Frank’s dementia progressing quickly, their chance of finding the girl on the 88 bus is slipping away.

More than anything, Libby wants Frank to see his lost love one more time. But their quest also shows Libby just how important it is to embrace her own chances for happiness—before it’s too late—in a beautifully uplifting novel about how a shared common experience among strangers can transform lives in the most marvelous ways. 

The Lost Ticket was also published under the name The Girl on the 88 Bus, and I was very excited to read this Freya Sampson read. Since I have read others by the author, I am familiar with the style and am happy that it lived up to my expectations. The story begins in 1962 with Frank meeting the girl of his dreams, a red-haired artist, who writes her phone number on a ticket. Unfortunately, Frank lost the ticket and mourns the loss of the missed opportunity. The story then flashes forward sixty years where readers meet Libby Nicholls, who is also an aspiring artist and has just been dumped by her boyfriend (and boss), Simon. She meets Frank and learns of his story as he has been riding the bus in search of his dream girl and soon their two stories intertwine.

Frank has a part-time caregiver named Dylan along with another bus passenger, Peggy, all end up in this intertwined tale of trying to reunite Frank and his mysterious red-haired girl. The story not only follows along with Frank’s mystery, but also goes along with Libby as she tries to heal after her break-up. She currently lives with her sister and acts as a nanny for her children. Her and her sister have a complex relationship, which adds a new dimension to the story. The story was engaging as the reader follows along with all the characters from the main ones to those that find themselves intrigued by Frank’s mystery girl. It was a heart-warming concept of the community that is formed for those that ride the bus and how even small moments can last a lifetime.

After finishing the story, I feel the UK The Girl on the 88 Bus captures the novel a lot better than The Lost Ticket and wish it kept that title. I love the unconventional friendship that developed between Libby and Frank and how all the other characters weaved together in their stories. The characters have individuals do lack some depth and seemed flat in many moments, but the way the story is written kept the focus, instead, on their bond. I think a little more care to developing them would have enhanced the story as I feel the reader just scratches the surface for them. The plot itself is engaging and I enjoyed the concept of the story and how it came together. I did find myself far more invested in Frank than Libby, which is unfortunate as she is a main character, so I think her part needed more exploration. Overall, this was a sweet story and was well worth the read.

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