Thursday, December 26, 2013
The Memory of Love
Marion is a retired physician who had migrated to New Zealand from Sweden, and she leads a solitary existence before she meets Ika, the shy boy who changes her life.
The novel is made up of three time periods in Marion's life. The different time periods alternate, so we read about the same character-- Marion-- as if they were different stories. Her present life is told in first person; her childhood is narrated in third person. Then there is a third story interspersed with these two stories. This third story is about Marion finding true love after she divorced her husband, fourteen years before she meets Ika. This one is narrated in third person. The three stories are equally engaging.
The author's prose is very simple. The first two chapters are lyrical and poetical, but the reader will be on tenterhooks throughout the whole novel. The book transported me to the landscapes of New Zealand, a place where I lived for almost two years.
What did I love about this book? There are many interesting thoughts and reflections. I loved to read how Marion describes herself in New Zealand, how she feels like an outsider there, even though she had adjusted to the place. I love how the author tells the story.
It is shocking to read about people conniving in the physical abuse of a child: if people know about it and do nothing to rescue the child, they are conniving in it. On the other hand, it is fascinating to witness how Marion's relationship with Ika unfolds, how they open up to each other and create a world of their own. Their communication goes beyond the realm of words. Ika is a gifted child with a natural ability to play the piano, but he also suffers from autism.
Some scenes are idyllic and very romantic. Others are filled with tension. The novel flows well; this author will not bore you. There are a couple of situations that I did not find credible, but I can't tell you about them because I would be spoiling my review. On the other hand, I liked how she puts into words the psychological quirks of the community she lives in. I found this to be very realistic (I lived in a small community in New Zealand, so I know what she is talking about).
If you want a book with a happy ending, easy to read, then The Memory of Love is a good choice.
Let me share with you some quotes from this book:
"But there was no escaping the reality of the rest of the world. I was part of it by my sheer physical presence. This remote place where I existed was connected to the rest of the world in ways that I could not influence. I could ignore the world as much as I liked, but it would still be there and it would continue to affect me and my environment regardless of what I thought or did."
"As he was, he was an extraordinary human being. Non-judgmental. Curious. Funny sometimes, though I never knew if it was intentional. I couldn't believe he would ever lose those qualities, but I knew it was likely to happen. Time would rob him of them, or life would teach him how to suppress them."
"Someone once shrugged off something I had told him, saying that such things didn't happen in real life. That it was too far-fetched to be believable. But far-fetched things do happen. In fact, many people's entire lives are completely far-fetched. I think we are surrounded by extraordinary possibilities. Whether we are aware of them or not, whether we choose to act on them or not, they are there."
"The road that is our life is littered with rejected, ignored and unnoticed opportunities, good and bad. Chance meetings and coincidences become extraordinary only when acted upon. Those that we allow to pass us by are gone forever. We never know where they might have taken us. I think they were never meant to happen."
Linda Olsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1948. She left Sweden in 1986. She lived in Kenya, Singapore, the UK, and Japan, until she settled in New Zealand in 1990.
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May 2014 be a year of creativity and serendipitous connections.
Thank you all for being there.
Till next year...