"The Memory Book"

The Memory Book by Penelope Stokes

This is the second book I've read from Penelope Stokes, the first being The Blue Bottle Club which I quite enjoyed. I found The Memory Book a little less interesting but still, it was a nice, easy read.

The main character is a young woman called Phoebe who returns to her grandmother's house, where she grew up, when her grandmother becomes ill. Her mother was murdered when Phoebe was 5 years old, but Phoebe has only a shadowy memory of seeing her mother laying on the floor surrounded by blood and a large male form standing over her.

She carries a lot of emotional baggage into all her relationships as an adult, including her engagement to the man she loves. As the story unfolds she finds a book with old family photos and mementos and eventually she also finds the journal of her grandfather's sister, also called Phoebe. She gains insight into her family history and is able to resolve the issues that kept her from fully entering into close relationships.

The part of the story that most held my attention is the section in which Phoebe has an accident and lies unconscious in bed for several days. She has a dream in which she has awakened in 1927 as the other Phoebe at 18 years old, looking after her 6 year old brother, Lewis(her grandfather), and living with their abusive father. The story gets a little far-fetched at that point with Phoebe making conscious decisions and being aware of herself as having gone back in time. Her "beau" from that era has the same initials as her current fiance, and she has two close female friends, also the same as she has in the present. After she wakes up as herself again, she uses lessons she has learned from her experiences in the past to help change her life in the here and now. She keeps talking about it as being more than a dream, but I don't quite see what we are meant to think happened to her.

I found it overwritten and a little melodramatic in spots. We are told several times early in the book about how Phoebe feels, but for me there are too many words used to make the point. I would rather an author let me figure it out for myself through the characters words and actions. Otherwise I am always aware that I am reading lines someone has written and never get to the point where I can fall into the story and forget it is a book. I really think this one would have benefited from more editing.

I found the characters stereotypical and not terribly interesting, and the ending predictable. There are a couple of surprises toward the end of the book that add interest, but all in all it lacks complexity. A subplot or two would have made a huge difference.

I know this genre is very popular and I am probably expecting too much of it. In fact there are times when it's exactly what I'm looking for, especially if I've been reading a lot of serious stuff that I need a break from. That last sentence sounds terrible but I'm too tired to rearrange the words. I'd give this book a 6 out of 10 and recommend it for anyone who likes light Christian fiction.

3 comments:

....Petty Witter said...

I disn't rally enjoy The Blue Bottle Club (too full of stereotypes and rather predictable) so thinkk I'll give this one a miss.

This Miss Loves to Read said...

Great review! An interesting book. I don't know this author, but your review makes me curious.

bibliophiliac said...

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