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The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman / Book Review

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The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

 

Publisher / Wydawca: Ebury Press

 

Publishing Date / Data wydania: 30th January 2014

 

Source / Zrodlo: Received from publisher, thank you! Od wydawcy, dziekuje!

 

Amazon Summary:

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.

 

Rating/Ocena: 5/5

 

Since I have read about The Memory Book I knew that I must read this book, no matter what. And I've read. And it was all that I hoped for, and even much, much more. I was glued to the pages from the very beginning to the end.

 

Claire is a 40 years old mother of two daughters, Caitlin who is 20 and Esther, aged three. She is English teacher who loves her job with all her heart. She's also married to Greg, a man of her dreams and all is perfect.

But, as in life, it soon ends. Claire is diagnosed with an early - onset Alzheimer's Disease. She must give up her job, she's losing her memory, she can't find her way home, she forgets if Esther was with her, she can't read to her little daughter anymore because she forgets letters and words, she forgets that she loves her husband. So then her mother Ruth moves into the house to help the family, and she knows what awaits her: they have already lost Claire's father to the same disease.

Greg buys Claire a memory book - a notebook where every member of the family can write their memories. Claire also adds to the notebook some mementos from her past, never sent letters and slowly it starts to remind the real Memory Book.

But the family must deal not only with Claire's AD and its consequences. There is also a crisis with Caitlin and her real father whom she's never known but Claire thinks that now is the right time for her to meet him - although he doesn't know that she exists.

 

 This all can sound very sad, and it is indeed, but this book is also very optimistic. It is sadness intertwine with a great sense of humour. Claire is so intelligent, it is told that she could hide her illness, she actually understands what's happening with her but she's trying to fight it, she doesn't want to accept it and is always plotting how to escape. Her good moments  entwine with the bad ones and my heart is really still broken when I think about it. And believe me, I am still thinking about the book, it is a story that stays with you for longer.

 

My heart is also broken for Greg, who was so in love with Claire and couldn't see how his life is breaking apart, how Claire is forgetting that she loved him but was still loving her and fighting for her and for this love.

 

The relationship between Claire and her mother Ruth was difficult but also a very loving and poignant one. Claire can't accept that her mother must leave her home and move to hers to take care about her grown up daughter, after she has already seen her husband dying of the same disease. But Ruth is a clever woman and she says some very important things about Claire being always her little baby, no matter how old she is and no matter if she herself is a grandmother, words that had me in tears.

 

The story of Caitlin is also important.  She has some issues and problems to solve herself but still doesn't want to worry her mother. I would like my daughter to be like Claire, to have her character and empathy.

 

This book also shows what an impact such a disease can have on a family, and how every member of the family suffers or tries to fight. How little Esther doesn't understand, and can't understand, that her mum is ill and she can't read her her favourite books anymore. Caitlin has her own problems and although she would like so much to confide in her mother, she doesn't want to worry her. Greg and Ruth were also trying to cope in their own ways and it was just unbelievably sad to see how much they were trying to stay strong.

What I also loved is the fact that every chapter is told from the character's point of view. The memories of Claire, Ruth, Greg and Caitlin were fantastic, sad and some devastating but also uplifting, full of emotions and love.

 

This book is all what I wished for and even more. It has taken me by surprise, that writing about such a bad disease can be so uplifting, full of hope and optimistic. It was incredibly beautiful journey through the illness of one member of the family and how it affects  all the others. It is about feelings and mostly about selfless love, about the strength of the family and faith in better times.

 

And last but not least I must mention the cover of this book which is damn brilliant! It is like the real Memory Book that Claire got from Greg and I really felt like I was keeping Claire's memories in my hand. It is deep red with some of the bits and pieces on it that we read about in the book. There is nothing better than good old hardback with a beautiful, beautiful cover and fantastic story inside.

It is a story that will stay with me for long and I am sure that I'm going to read it more than once.