It’s very rare that a book makes it into my blog, because books bring me joy every day and it’s hard to single them out. Plus, as time has passed, I’ve made more and more writer friends and I don’t want them to think I’m being favouritist, like.
But then again it’s very rare that I read a book that simultaneously enthrals me, devastates me and somehow lifts me up beyond my quotidian existence quite like Rowan Coleman’s beautiful novel The Memory Book.
Spoilers aren’t an issue here, because it’s clear from the outset that the heroine is on a very serious downward trajectory with her health that has only one possible outcome. And I’ll admit that when I began it, I felt bleak. I wondered what Rowan could possibly do to deliver the redemptive ending that other reviews promised, and how I was going to cope spending three hundred and eighty pages watching a brilliant and deeply loveable woman gradually lose a life into which she’d poured so much energy and warmth.
I should have known better. Rowan is a truly outstanding writer and this book, against all odds, manages to be gloriously uplifting, funny and absolutely compelling. By the end I was reading at one a.m., in the middle of an epic house move; so exhausted I could barely hold the bloody thing and yet completely unable to put it down. Only the most gifted of writers could handle a story of such unbearable sadness and produce a novel so joyous. Rowan’s depiction of the mother/daughter relationship is quite simply beautiful and it’s this – this messy, heartfelt and ferociously unbreakable bond that has stayed with me since I finished it late last night, and will stay with me for some time to come.
A stunning book that everyone who cares about being alive should read.