Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

The Memory Garden

on August 6, 2010

At long last I’ve finished reading The Memory Garden.  Or, more accurately, at long last I finished reading it and at even longer last I’ve got round to blogging about it.  Same with The Little Stranger which is next up for comment.

I enjoyed The Memory Garden.  The two storylines (the 1912 one and the present-day one) fitted in well together and the flashbacks to 1912 provided a kind of dramatic irony with the modern-day story of Mel and Patrick, trying to piece together the mystery of the paintings found in the old houses.  I loved the resolutions to both the stories, a mixture of happy and sad, although I was slightly disappointed that the 1912 story wasn’t more fully developed, as there didn’t seem to be much of what at ‘A’ Level we used to refer to as “Local Colour”, supporting the picture of early twentieth century life and Pearl’s love of painting and the garden.  Surprisingly what I found most interesting, and the most effective writing, was the development of the relationship between Mel and Patrick themselves.  As an avid reader of chick-lit and the romantic genre I’m well-used to having my feelings manipulated towards (or away from) certain characters and situations and it’s no surprise to find that the thing you were hoping for – usually that the heroine would end up with a particular man, rather than the less suitable one she initially finds herself attracted to – occurs in the end.  However in The Memory Garden this manipulation of feelings took on a different significance, as it actually mirrored the feelings of Mel herself.  Before she and Patrick initially “get together” there’s quite a bit of sexual tension and she frequently finds herself in situations with him in which she’s not quite sure of his feelings or intentions.  Finally they do become a couple but, far from the satisfying sense of  “all’s right with the world” usually experienced, everything begins to feel rather uncomfortable and really dissatisfying.  At the same time Mel is constantly questioning the relationship, Patrick’s feelings and her own, because they are both recovering from previous break-ups and not yet emotionally ready to commit to another relationship.    When they part company Rachel Hore manages to evoke a sadness at the same time as a recognition that it’s the right thing to do.  Obviously, that isn’t the end of the story but I do try not to give everything away in my reviews!  However, the writing, and the feelings it gives rise to, continue to mirror Mel’s state of mind as she continues to recover and to progress emotionally.

I still have one more of Hore’s books to read: The Glass Painter’s Daughter.  I look forward to starting it when other commitments allow.

Austen Challenge update – haven’t got much further with it as time has been a problem and I’ve been reading for reading group mostly.  I’ve now started Lady Susan as my latest idea is to read them in the order they were written.

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