Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: June 2, 2016

Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her. While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love. But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?

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The wasn't much question about whether or not I'd read Camille Di Maio's The Memory of Us. I'm such a WWII junkie that I was sold the minute I saw 'Blitz' in the jacket description and rest as they is say, is history. 

Inspired by the song Eleanor Rigby, The Memory of Us chronicles the life of Julianne Westcott and the love she holds for a young man named Kyle McCarthy. It's not much of a war story, but the conflict is a key component of the narrative and I ultimately appreciated how the author used it to propel the plot. 

The book is a slow starter and the entire novel is bittersweet, but I think it a solid debut just the same. I liked Julianne and Kyle enough to wonder how their story would end and there were a couple of very genuine moments that captured some deeply authentic and personal emotions.

That said, I wish the novel had been structured differently. I don't mean to sound impertinent, but Jane Bailey captured my attention the moment she entered the story and I can't help feeling the novel would have been stronger if it had been told through her eyes as she uncovered the clues and unraveled the secrets that haunt Julianne.

The Memory of Us is not the most excited novel I've tackled this year, but it proved a pleasant read just the same and I'd definitely recommend it alongside Letters from Skye and The Last Telegram.

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I hadn’t set foot in a church since that Christmas morning when I became somebody else. The condemned don’t have any need for religion.
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1 comment:

Hopewell said...

I passed this over based on a blurb, but now I want to read it. Very good, helpful review.

I LOVED the writing of Letters from Skye and love her new book, but I thought Skye far-fetched in that the whole Island would have been gossiping and possibly shunning her. Still a great read though
Lisa @