I very much enjoyed reading local author (to Berkhamsted), Rowan Coleman’s latest novel, The Memory Book, recently. I was lucky enough to have a little time around New Year and so read it in a couple of days!
The novel tells the story of a woman who develops early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease in her forties, and how her teenage and toddler daughters, together with her new husband and mother manage the disease and their own feelings as they watch Claire gradually descend into a state when little makes sense to her any more. To make the most of Claire’s diminishing number of days of lucidity, they decide to start writing in a book of memories, mainly filled by Claire’s own memories of her life and experiences, but also those of her husband, Greg, elder daughter, Caitlin and mother, Ruth. At times, it seems as though the only person who truly understands Claire is toddler Esther. The story is eloquently told and, as a reader, one gets a sense of all the emotions felt by each member of the family and those with whom Claire is in touch outside the home. Memories are not only recorded, they are are created, and forge new feelings of connection between the main characters. There are many wonderful, yet poignant, moments, which are often punctuated with a good sense of humour. The novel ends on an upbeat level with the promise of new beginnings… Read it and enjoy!