Rowan Coleman’s tender novel tells the story of Claire, a vibrant, confident and quirky mother of two who fell in love with and married Greg after years of independent living. However, time is running out. Claire is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease and begins her battle to live every moment as though it’s the last one. The story follows moments of joy, sadness and comfort as Claire and her family deal with the news; they begin a memory book, the entries capturing precious moments and leaving a legacy.
I found The Memory Book moving and quite simply stunning.
The moments of sadness are effectively combined with moments that will bring a smile to your face throughout. Rowan’s stunning storytelling explores a wonderful relationship between Claire and her family members as she struggles with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The relationships portrayed between family members – Claire to her husband Greg, mum Ruth and daughters Caitlin and Esther are just enchanting. In particular Claire and Greg had me gripped, shedding tears, laughing at their old memories and absolutely aching for there to be some kind of positive outcome even though the odds are stacked against them.
“I turn and look at the receptionist for one last moment, and I know this is absolutely the right time for me to come out with a witty and stinging one-liner that will make her see I am not a pitiable person and not just a disease. But nothing comes to mind, which reminds me, only too clearly, that I am both.”
The mother-daughter bond between Claire and Caitlin felt so real – two strong, determined and hilariously stubborn females who love one another so deeply it made for some lump-in-the-throat reading and also made me realise how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful relationship with my mum who is still here creating memories with me. A book that can remind you how important family is and make you want to leave your home to go and tell your parents how lucky you feel to have them is a special one and I have to thank Rowan for writing a book that is so touching.
The entries in to the memory book were inspirational, sharing light-hearted memories and showing the strength of a family going through a terribly difficult time. It shows the reader how Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t only affect the sufferer but the family and friends who surround them and the story is so clever in being life-affirming for the reader. You can’t help but care about the characters, feeling part of the family as you read their treasured memories which are going to last a lifetime after Claire’s will be brought to an end.
Read this book – laugh, cry, fall in love with the characters, feel angry at the cruelty of life and finish the story feeling lucky for everything you have.
Follow Rowan Coleman – @rowancoleman
Follow the Publisher – @eburypublishing
Have you read The Memory Book? Please let me know what you though in the comments below!