Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.
This week I’m revisiting a book I read and reviewed for Rosie’s Book Review Team. The Memory Box, published in June 2014, is a psychological thriller.
Caroline Thompson, a suburban mother of two, keeps as much distance as she can from the town’s gossipmongers, and their insatiable need to dig into everyone’s lives. The latest craze is googling everyone to see what they can uncover to add fuel to their nasty gossip. They could only find three hits for Caroline, which initially is reassuring, but gives Caroline the idea to google her maiden name, which no-one in town knows. As she scrolls through hit after hit, what she finds terrifies her. How can she not remember such momentous and life changing episodes from her past.
I think about my measly three Google hits as we walk by them, and I can’t help but feel slightly inferior.
Meg and I don’t say a word until we’re well past them.
Once we’re down the hill, she says, “Were they talking about that au pair again?” She shakes her head, “As if it isn’t painful enough without their…going at it, like some – I don’t know…”
Out of nowhere, my sister flashes through my mind. It’s not the first time Meg has reminded me of JD. She’d say something like that. Both of them have an ability to soar above the clothesline of others’ dirty laundry. They rarely engage in it. With JD living so far away I’m lucky to have Meg to keep me grounded.
What follows are Caroline’s attempts to piece together the explosive information Google has thrown up. The more she uncovers, the worse it gets. It appears her nice, comfortable life is built on a foundation of shocking lies and deception. As Caroline becomes ever more confused and panic stricken, her behaviour becomes more and more outlandish. I honestly couldn’t see where this was going or how it could be resolved. There’s plenty of suspense and drama from Caroline’s point of view but I couldn’t understand why nobody was picking up on her weird behaviour and the fact she’s unravelling before their eyes. Or why Caroline wasn’t confiding in her husband, her best friend, someone who could offer her support.
All becomes clear in part two! A completely unexpected and unusual twist … and then some, with another surprise development at the very end. This is a very imaginative and unconventional telling of a story within a story. A couple of little niggles for me were over description in parts and Caroline’s thought processes which became quite repetitive, but could, of course, be intentional to show how she is gradually becoming more deeply disturbed. That said, it’s a very unpredictable read with many layers and an obsessive protagonist who has to be in control.
About the Book
In this gripping psychological thriller, a group of privileged suburban moms amuse themselves by Googling everyone in town, digging up dirt to fuel thorny gossip. Caroline Thompson, devoted mother of two, sticks to the moral high ground and attempts to avoid these women.