Author: Judith Barrow
Published: March 2020 by Honno Press
Category: Family Saga, Dual Timeline, Fiction, Book Review
Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother’s side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose.
Rose was Irene’s little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future.
The Memory tells Irene’s story from her perspective, alternating between then and now. Beginning in the now, the story gives an immediate sense of Irene’s life. It’s not at all what she envisioned for herself all those years ago, as she struggles with her full time role as a carer for her mother, with all that entails when someone is incapable of doing anything for themselves.
Everything changed for Irene when her sister was born. She was eight years old. Gone was her happy childhood, the days when her mother laughed and they spent time together, enjoying each others company. Rose was born with Down’s Syndrome and from the first moment Irene loved her, as did her father and grandmother. But seemingly not her mother who rejected Rose, wanting nothing to do with her, and withdrew from the family. Irene sees a side to mother that she never knew existed and it tears their family apart.
A lot of the time, Mum stayed in bed. It upset me; I wanted my old mum back. But, as the weeks went by, it also made me resent her. Nanna said it was because she was sad. I didn’t see why; like I said to Sam enough times, it wasn’t as though we asked her to look after Rose.
Irene became a surrogate mother to Rose, supported by her father and grandmother, and loved her unconditionally. She and her best friend, and later soul mate, Sam, spent as much time as possible with Rose. The prejudices and feelings of the time towards children who were different angered them both, and meant they spent much of their time with Rose on their own. Irene’s life takes many turns, and throughout it all Sam is there for the good times and the bad.
Told sympathetically and with gritty realism, The Memory centres around Irene’s troubled love/hate relationship with her mother, poignant, shocking and compelling in equal measure, as the story evolves.
I’ve been awake for over a day. I glance at the clock with the extra large numbers, bought when she could still tell the time. Now it’s just something else for her to stare at, to puzzle over. It’s actually twenty-seven hours since I slept, and for a lot of them I’ve been on my feet. Not that this is out of the ordinary. This has been going on for the last year: long days, longer nights.
The chapters are short, beginning with a brief but very clear understanding of Irene’s life in the present, those sections spanning a twenty four hour period, and flashbacks chart her life as it unfolds. At one point she witnesses something that never leaves her and drives the relationship she has with her mother, as well as some of the life changing decisions she will make throughout her life. And eventually, after all the years of lies and deceit a sad truth is finally revealed.
Irene is a wonderfully portrayed character, loyal and reliable with an inner strength that makes you just want things to turn out well for her, although it’s not all doom and gloom by any means. Judith Barrow gets into the skin of her characters, totally capturing the conflicting emotions, feelings of angst, joy, love, compassion, sadness and utter despair that make up this incredible, moving and well written story.
I chose to read and review The Memory based on a copy of the book kindly supplied by the publisher.
About the Author
Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for forty years.
She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University and she has had short stories, plays, reviews and articles, published throughout the British Isles and has won several poetry competitions..
She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.
Author: Harlan Coben
Narrated by Steven Weber
Released on Audible: March 2020
Category: Crime, Mystery, Thriller, Audiobook, Book Review
Thirty years ago, a child was found in the New Jersey backwoods.
He had been living a feral existence, with no memory of how he got there or even who he is. Everyone just calls him Wilde.
Now a former soldier and security expert, he lives off the grid, shunned by the community – until they need him.
Over thirty years ago a boy, thought to be around six to eight years old, was found living in the Ramapo Mountain Forest. How he survived no-one knew. The boy didn’t know his age, name or where he came from. He doesn’t remember his parents or any other adults and no-one came forward to claim him. But he did have a friend.
Author: Jessica Redland
Published: January 2020 by Boldwood Books
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Book Review
Never give up on a wish for a happy ever after…
Callie Derbyshire has it all: her dream job as a carer at Bay View, finally she has found the love of her life. Everything is perfect.
Ex-partners are insistent on stirring up trouble, and Callie’s favourite resident, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self.
Callie has the perfect job, notwithstanding having the boss from hell. A natural carer with a great personality, she loves the residents at Bay View Care Home and is kind, patient and considerate.
Author: Jo Spain
Performed by Aoife McMahon
Published January 2020 by Quercus
Category: Pyschological, Suspense, Family Drama, Mystery, Audiobook, Review
It’s June 2008 and twenty-one-year-old Adam Lattimer vanishes, presumed dead. The strain of his disappearance breaks his already fragile family.
Ten years later, with his mother deceased and siblings scattered across the globe, Adam turns up unannounced at the family home. His siblings return reluctantly to Spanish Cove, but Adam’s reappearance poses more questions than answers. The past is a tangled web of deceit.
Set in Spanish Cove, a small village on the west coast of Ireland, Six Wicked Reasons focuses on the dysfunctional Lattimer family. The story begins with a celebratory reunion on a yacht. Adam Lattimer, the son and sibling the family feared dead had returned after ten years. Nine people, including Frazer Lattimer’s fiancé, had boarded but only eight left the yacht alive. When Frazer’s body was pulled from the sea it was evident the blow to the back of his head had killed him.
Author: David Ahern
Published: March 2020 by Malin Press
Category: Cosy Mystery, Drama, Suspense, Romance, Book Review
Actress Derry O’Donnell, moonlighting as fortune-teller Madam Tulip, finds herself in a famous pop singer’s entourage.
But at the star’s glittering birthday party in the Dublin mountains, Derry finds a band riven by rivalries and feuds. Behind the trouble is a mysterious Russian guru, a shaman hated by everyone but the singer whose life she dominates.
Derry O’ Donnell, a talented but at the moment jobless actress, along with her friends, rising TV star Bella and ex Navy SEAL Bruce, have secured a three week run for their fledgling theatre company. Pat Kelly, pub owner and band manager, has offered a room above the pub as a venue. But first Derry was required to grant a favour and become her alter ego, Madam Tulip, for a party. Pat Kelly manages pop group Maramar and is hosting a birthday bash for the lead singer, Aileen.
Author: Elly Griffiths
Published: February 2020 by Quercus
Category: Crime, Murder, Mystery, Police Procedural, Book Review
Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.
She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.
Ruth and Kate are now living in Cambridge with Dr Frank Barker and, although Ruth enjoys her job teaching at St Jude’s college, she still misses Norfolk and her cottage on the edge of the Saltmarsh.
Author: E.B. White
Released October 2019
Category: Children’s Fiction, Audiobook, Book Review
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
I couldn’t resist indulging in some nostalgia when I saw Charlotte’s Web on Audible, especially with such a great cast which includes Meryl Streep, January LaVoy, Kirby Heyborne and MacLeod Andrews.