Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Memory of Love

 Can you imagine yourself befriending a seven-year-old boy who happens to be a victim of physical and emotional abuse? This is is what happened to Marion, a fifty-year-old woman who lives by the sea in New Zealand.
  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.
    Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate each and every comment you make.
      May 2014 be a year of creativity and serendipitous connections.
        Thank you all for being there.
         Till next year...



  1. Julia, you have written an excellent review! I will locate this book to read now!

    1. Thanks, Nellie.
      Let me know what you think. I would like to discuss it with somebody.

  2. Sounds like a great read.

    Hope you have a wonderful 2014. :-)

    1. Thanks, Misha. I hope 2014 will be a great year for everyone.

  3. Dear Julia
    You have opened the door into reading this book.... wide, wide, wide. I find all your reviews completely inviting and this is certainly no exception. In the short time we've been communicating, I've learned to trust your literary judgement. BUT (there's always the big "but") I have so little time in 24 hours and by my own priorities, fiction was the thing to go. Here's a little addendum to our last conversation..... when I finally woke up to the fact that I was aging, it was like a lightening bolt hit me to remind me of all the things I still feel compelled to do/learn. I admit that at times, I'm a little frantic, trying to get it all it and I don't have time to read about a story originating from someone's mind. I have tons of actual living that I still want to do. Why? I don't know. I can't take it with me but I just know I have things yet to atone for, people to love and gardens to cultivate.

    I'll tell you why your review is a cliff hanger for me and has aroused my interest, even though, I'm honest with you and know I won't take the time to read it right now. All of my kids and their kids are grown and can't see anymore young ones in our family AND I had been surrounded by only adults for a very long time. A young couple with a little boy not yet two, moved in behind me, across the alley.
    I'm not going to try to explain what happened when I met the little boy, Avery. There was a recognition beyond words, be it spiritual, karmic, whatever..... this little boy opened my heart immediately. He felt it too, I'm sure, because his parents said he looks out the window and says my name. He wants to spend time in my yard when he's outside and his parents don't understand it. (me either, really)
    I would love to know the "whys" and ending of this book.

    After emptying 3 houses of all contents, I found myself with more books than I could ever imagine. Right now, in time and only this morning, I am still sorting through books. I have disposed of at least 400 books..... in various ways but many of them hold memories for me because they've been with me for over 60 years. I never want to be a burden to my kids and I'm sure all my books would be just that so I must part with them myself.
    I just wanted you to know why I won't be reading the book now. I wouldn't even mind if you filled in the spaces for me. I'm the type who can begin watching a movie in the middle and still enjoy it immensely. Hahaha
    Thank you for such an enticing review.

    1. I meditated on your post, Manzanita. I know exactly what you mean. There are connections that go beyond words. These serendipitous connections suggest that life has "layers" that go beyond what we can see or explain. It is part of the mystery of life. We don't understand everything. We just perceive this energy, and all we can do is marvel at these situations and inexplicable connections. Thank you for sharing your experience here.
      Don't worry about reading the book, Manzi. The idea of my book reviews is not to "sell" a book, but to start a conversation, to open up our minds to new insights and perspectives. They can awaken peoples' interest in the book, and this is fine too.
      Thank you for your interesting comment.

  4. Sounds like a great read! Thanks for sharing.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This is a wonderfully written book review, Julia, eloquent and comprehensive. It sounds like a fascinating story that I’d love to read. I was really captivated by the thoughts in those quotes, thank you for sharing them.

    How interesting that you once lived in New Zealand! It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit, along with Australia. Happy New Year to you, and may 2014 be a year of further creativity and good fortune for you!

    1. Thank you, Jersey. Having the good fortune of meeting you is an example of a serendipitous connection.
      Let's keep interacting in 2014. Happy New Year.

  7. Hi Julia .. I've just ordered the book - when I read it is another matter .. but I must settle and read this coming year. It sounds a very interesting book - and with Manzi's comment .. adds more to the thought I'd like to read it ..

    Thanks - and I've noted it came via you .. somehow I have to remember who recommends what! Cheers and Happy rest of the festive few days ... Hilary

    1. Wow, I'm glad you enjoyed my review so much. I do believe you will love reading it.
      Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year, dear friend.

  8. Hi Julia,

    Your review is one of the most engrossing masterpieces of writing my eyes have ever laid on. You have also struck a chord, for sadly, I know of a lady who endured intolerable abuse. Abuse that she has carried on through her life in ways that even I, as best I could, could never diminish her torment.

    You lived in New Zealand. The land of the long white cloud. You will have connections in ways of your memories of that magical land. I have a friend who lives near the beach about thirty miles south of Auckland, I shall send her your way.

    And thus, an easy read with a happy ending. This I will check out.

    In peace for 2014, dear Julia.


    1. Thank you, Gary.
      That's a good idea. Let her know about my review and this book, then.
      I appreciate your insightful comment. I'm sorry about your friend. That's terrible.
      Happy New Year. I look forward to another year of interesting interactions...


I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.