Gwens life has stalled. Shes 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 councils wheelie-bin timetable. Above all shes lonely. But then, isnt everyone? When Gwens made redundant from a job she drifted into a decade ago and never left, she realises its time to make a change. Over what might be the best and most solitary meal shes 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.
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).