They never found Leah Parata. Not a boot, not a backpack, not a turquoise beanie. After she left me that day, she vanished off the face of the earth.
A close-knit community is ripped apart by disturbing revelations that cast new light on a young woman’s disappearance twenty-five years ago.
After years of living overseas, Emily returns to New Zealand to care for her father who has dementia. As his memory fades and his guard slips, she begins to understand him for the first time – and to glimpse shattering truths about his past.
Are some secrets best left buried?
Another page-turning, emotive suspense novel from the Richard & Judy bestselling author of After the Fall and Radio 2 Book Club pick, 2020’s The Secrets of Strangers – ideal reading-group fiction, perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Clare Mackintosh.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Thing Tours for the tour invite and to the publisher for the paperback copy.
Emily, an illustrator for children’s books, lives in the UK. Her father Felix, a retired GP, lives in New Zealand. With a fractured family background, theirs has never been a close relationship, her father was always a distant figure, more interested in his patients than his children. She gets a phone call from a close family friend and neighbour Raewyn Parata advising of his rapidly declining health and suggesting she return temporarily as soon as she can. Reluctantly she agrees and the man she finds on arrival is very different from the father she remembers.
Family relationships are at the fore of Remember Me. Felix has Alzheimers and Emily not only has the practicalities of keeping her father safe but also of navigating a new relationship with him and dealing with the sudden mood swings and outbursts of a man who doesn’t always remember who she is. Her two siblings are only too keen to put Felix into a care home against his wishes mainly so that they can sell his property. Such a loving family!
The story is set in 2019 with flashbacks to 1994 relating to the disappearance of conservationist and neighbour Leah Parata. In fact Emily was believed to be possibly the last person to speak to her on the day she disappeared for a hike in the forests of the Ruahine Range and the 25th anniversary of her disappearance together with the resultant media interest stirs up painful memories for her family and the community.
This is such an emotive read and one I found difficult at times. Although not Alzheimers, my mother had dementia and there was much that resonated with me. The slower pace suits the story perfectly, the writing is just superb and the subject of this dreadful illness has been handled sensitively and with authenticity. The author has her own personal insight into the illness and this comes through clearly in the writing. Whether it be of characters and their emotions or location and landscape, vivid descriptions give a fully immersive reading experience.
This wasn’t purely the suspense novel that I had expected from the description. Although Leah’s disappearance has cast a shadow over the remote town and its residents, it is the change in relationship between Emily and Felix that drives the story, resulting in a family drama that includes the discovery of untold secrets and of coming to terms with the past. Tense and touching, this novel will pull at the heart strings and is definitely one to be recommended.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charity Norman was born in Uganda and brought up in successive draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham. After several years’ travel she became a barrister, specialising in crime and family law. In 2002, realising that her three children had barely met her, she took a break from the law and moved with her family to New Zealand. REMEMBER ME is her seventh novel.
FOLLOW THE AUTHOR
The Son-in-Law (2013)