Claire has everything in life. Two beautiful children, a wonderful husband, a job she loves and a supportive, if slightly annoying mother. She is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s and everything is suddenly different. She can’t remember things anymore, she can’t do the job she excels at, and worst of all, she can’t remember her husband Greg. He is a stranger for her, someone she views with suspicion, someone she edges away from. She knows that he is her daughter’s father but she can’t remember meeting him, can’t remember falling in love with him.
Life is carrying on around her, with her mum moving in to help, her little three year old finding her forgetful mum rather funny, and her 21 year old struggling with her own problems in life. Claire, goes walking, lost in her own world, and ends up meeting Ryan. A man, who treats her normally. As chance has it, she runs into Ryan a few more times, and finds herself increasingly drawn towards him but again, just like the others in her life, she finds hard to recall. Also, with Ryan in her life, what about Greg, her husband who is crazy about her but is constantly snubbed by her, because she can no longer remember him.
The book is both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. Claire’s worries at leaving her girls, knowing that they wouldn’t have her around when they most need her, and the way she tries to tackle her memory loss, when she is lucid, was just heart-breaking to read. It was even more heart-breaking to see the family around her, doing their best, failing in so many ways, because Claire, without her memory is a different person, a person who can’t remember things like turning off taps, or what a phone is called, the most basic of things that we take for granted. Reading the book from Claire’s point of view gave me an insight into what a person with Alzheimer’s disease goes through. Even the concerns and care of the people around you, must feel so stifling, so restrictive, even more so, because you have no idea why you can’t take your three year old to the park, or bake a cake with her. Heart-breaking it was. And yet, the love that surrounded Claire, was so heart-warming. Each of the characters’ narrative gives us an insight of the person Claire was – the daughter, the mother, the wife. Even at the stage where she couldn’t remember much, Claire tries to right things with Caitlin, things that she had done with the best of intentions, but which had impacted Caitlin’s outlook towards life.
All the characters are beautifully thought out and real. I could identify with their emotions, their pain and their confusion. Such a beautiful book, it had me in tears, it had me smiling, it had me on tenterhooks, it had me reading non-stop. A book that will stay with me. A 5/5 book for me. A book I would most definitely recommend. I’ve read Rowan Coleman before, but I think this has been one of her best books, for me.
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers, Random House, for the review copy of this book.
About the Author
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 the opposite directions. When she gets the chance, Rowan enjoys sleeping, sitting and loves watching films; she is also attempting to learn how to bake.
Rowan would like to live every day as if she were starring in a musical, although her daughter no longer allows her to sing in public. Despite being dyslexic, Rowan loves writing, and The Memory Book is her eleventh novel. Others include The Accidental Mother, Lessons in Laughing Out Loud and the award-winning Dearest Rose, a novel which lead Rowan to become an active supporter of domestic abuse charity Refuge, 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.
This book is available from Amazon(UK).