Published on 30 January 2014 by by Ebury Press (Fiction)
The name of your first-born. The face of your lover. Your age. Your address…
What would happen if your memory of these began to fade?
Is it possible to rebuild your life? Raise a family? Fall in love again?
When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold on to the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?
Original, heartwarming and uplifting, The Memory Book is perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.
I had been looking forward to reading this book for so long and now that I have read it, I’ve been putting off posting my review as nothing I can say will do justice to this fabulous book.
Claire and Greg are very much in love and have only been married for a few short years. Together they have a 3 year old daughter Esther and Claire has a 20 year daughter, Caitlin, from a previous relationship. All seems perfect, except that it isn’t any longer. Claire has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and the tragedy is that both Claire and her mother both know exactly what to expect as the same disease claimed Claire’s father. They both know that Claire’s memory will be taken away from her piece by piece so that eventually she will not even recognise her own children.
Claire is an independent and feisty woman and tries to fight the disease with all she has. She raised Caitlin single handedly and has a daughter to be proud of. As the disease progresses she has to give up her much loved job as a teacher and Ruth, her mother, moves in with the family to help care for her. There are times when Claire even forgets where she lives and for her own safety, her home also becomes her prison. It was heart-breaking to see the disease taking hold so quickly – not only was she unable to remember the names of everyday items, or read a bedtime story to Esther but even her husband Greg becomes a stranger to her.
The ‘Memory Book’ of the title is a large red journal that Greg buys for Claire so that all the family can record their memories and keepsakes. Claire is encouraged to record her thoughts and memories before they leave her completely and as she begins this process, we learn more about her past life and how she has become the person she is today. It also gives greater insight into her relationships with her mother and Greg.
The narration is mainly shared by Claire and daughter Caitlin with the occasional chapter by Ruth and Greg. Both Claire and Caitlin have their own secrets which they are keeping from each other and when these are exposed, the family faces being torn apart.
I knew this book was going to be a tearjerker and there were times when I was sobbing whilst reading this. My mother suffered from a form of dementia before she died and Claire’s times of lucidity and confusion bought back painful memories for me. However, although poignant, the book isn’t all about sadness. There are many moments of laughter and I loved Claire’s feisty nature and sense of fun, especially when she was trying to outwit her mother and escape!
This is not just a book about Alzheimer’s, it’s also about the love between mothers and daughters and families and the bonds that can never be broken no matter how testing the circumstances.
I’m not normally a gusher but this book has a gorgeous cover containing a wonderful and heartrending story. Rowan Coleman has written a truly stunning book.
My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the digital copy to review. Once I started reading, I loved the book so much that I bought my own hardback copy to keep. The cover is so beautiful that I want to be able to look at it on my bookshelf.
About the Author:
Photo from Author’s Website
Rowan Coleman lives with her husband and five children in a very full house in Hertfordshire. She juggles writing novels with raising her family which includes a very lively set of toddler twins whose main hobby is going in opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films, she is also attempting to learn how to bake.
The Memory Book is Rowan’s eleventh novel; others include The Accidental Mother and the award winning Dearest Rose, which led her to become an active supporter of Refuge, the charity against domestic abuse. She is donating 100% of royalties from the ebook publication of her novella Woman Walks into a Bar to the charity. Rowan does not have time for ironing.