Reviewer: Nicola Smith – Short Book and Scribes

Publisher: Headline       11th November 2021

ISBN : ‎ 978-1472265951              PB

 

The Memory Box had me spellbound from start to finish. It’s beautifully written, evocative and emotional and absolutely my favourite kind of read.

Jenny is about to turn the grand old age of 100. She’s doing so in Green Meadows Residential Home because everybody she ever loved or cared for has gone. By her side is Candice, a carer to whom Jenny has become close. The two of them plan for a trip to Italy to deal with something in Jenny’s past which unfolds throughout the course of the book.

Jenny is a wondrous creation. She’s feisty, sharp-witted and nobody’s fool. Her narrative and her inner thoughts, especially about Candice’s boyfriend, made me smile so much. But there’s also heartbreak in Jenny’s story going back to World War II and when Candice finds the memory box full of Jenny’s most important mementoes she knows it’s time to face the past before it’s too late.

The Memory Box is a fairly large book but I didn’t want it to end. I love a book which follows a long life, one well-lived but full of the ups and downs that come with it. The author has weaved some real events into the story which really added to the interest for me. Taking us from the relative safety of Wales to occupied Italy and then back to the current day in England, each setting was portrayed to perfection, putting me right there alongside the characters I had come to care about.

There are a couple of surprising turns in the story, one of which had me exclaiming out loud. I think it was testament to the author’s all-consuming writing that I felt that surprise so keenly. I absolutely adored this tale of a woman looking back on her long life and the young woman who has barely embarked on hers but for whom spending time with Jenny might just change it forever. The Memory Box is easily one of my favourite reads of the year and is one I won’t forget.