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…?
This has been one of the most talked about books of the past few months. On Twitter, everywhere I looked was people requesting, reviewing and talking about it and having now finally read it, I can completely understand why. I bought a hard-back copy of the book myself and the cover is gorgeous and a stunning representation of the heart-wrenching, tragically beautiful story within the pages. The Memory Book is about a woman named Claire who is going through early-onset Alzheimers. Her mind is opening up and one by one her life and the things she knew are slipping away into oblivion. Her husband, Greg, gives her a book which is dubbed, ‘The Memory Book’ where Claire and her family write, draw and attach memories and memorabilia into the book so her child have something of her once the person they knew is gone. The story follows not only Claire’s daily and ongoing struggles with the disease but her daughter, Caitlin and her own problems and Greg’s difficulties with coming to terms with his wife’s disease. It demonstrates the unspoken bond between mother and daughter, husband and wife and the undeniable truth that true love will live on long after we’re gone.
I’ve been trying to write my review for ages but words are failing me right now as there are none that will justify how incredibly perfect this book is. Saying I loved it would be an understatement. The thing that stuck out was how easy it was to read. Rowan’s writing is effortless and free-flowing and it’s obvious that story telling is what she was born to do. I really liked the structure of the chapters which alternate between the point of view of Claire and her daughter, Caitlin and the memories which are included in between chapters from both Claire and Caitlin, her husband Greg and her mother, Ruth. The memories gave a nice touch and insight into what Claire’s life was like before she had this burden to deal with. I like how the issue in the book is delivered tastefully. I like Claire’s attitude towards this terrible disease and despite her being the person it’s happening too, she manages to make light of the situation at times. All the characters are likeable and easy to get along with. The ending was gasp-worthy – it took one sentence for the bomb to drop and every fibre in my body to tingle with both joy and heart-wrenching emotion.
Despite the nature of the story, it was actually quite funny and some of the things the characters say are very witty. I loved Claire’s mother, Ruth. She was so typically your to-the-point no nonsense older woman. My favourite quote however was, ‘If I were a guest on the Jeremy Kyle show, I’d throw a shoe at my head’. Which is something I often think about myself…. I have honestly never read a book like this before. So fluent and easy, humorous yet painstakingly raw and real. It really does suck you in and doesn’t let go and by the end you will be looking at life, love and family in a completely different light. It was perfect. Emotionally draining and heartbreakingly perfect. One of the most strikingly beautiful stories I have ever had the pleasure of reading.
You can find Rowan Coleman and The Memory Book on the following links: