The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

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The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jo Heffer
Reviewed by Jo Heffer
Summary: What must it feel like to know that your life is coming to an end? Even worse, what if the life you have already is steadily being lost as your mind succumbs to early onset Alzheimer’s? That is the frightening future that Claire Ryan faces as she tries to cling on to the memories that she holds most dear. One solution is to collect and preserve all those special times in a book – one that helps her to remember and one that her family will treasure once she has gone. The Memory Book is the place for Claire to make sure that while she continues to forget, she will not be forgotten.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Ebury Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780091951375

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When Claire Ryan first hears the devastating news that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, her first instinct is to run away. However, she does not get far before she realises that she is already forgetting where she lives and the names of simple everyday objects that she has always taken for granted. The worst implication of the news though is that soon she will no longer remember the special events in her life such as giving birth to her daughters nor will she recognise their faces or remember how much she loves the man that is her husband. Not only is this traumatic for her, the effect on her family is unbearable. This is a modern day tragedy with seemingly, no happy ending.

As the disease takes hold, Claire’s behaviour becomes more irrational and childlike especially when her mother arrives to look after her. It is a case of a reversal of their roles and adds to the indignity of all that is happening to her. She no longer feels capable of being the mother she needs to be to her own daughters and this becomes particularly apparent when twenty year Caitlin cannot confide in her when she needs to. It is terribly sad to witness the disintegration of Claire’s mind as one reads this particularly poignant story. Although it is desperately sad though, it is also a story of a family pulling together.

I was slightly concerned when I started reading ‘The Memory Book’ that it would be too sad but it isn’t. However, there are many moments when it is distressing and you probably have to be in quite a positive frame of mind to keep with it. It is not a book I would recommend if you are close to someone going through anything similar to Claire or have had to witness the sad demise of a close one’s mind in the past. However, it many ways, it is also an uplifting book and it does seem to have an underlying message of hope and love. The way that all the family contribute to the book of memories is quite poignant.

I always enjoy reading Rowan Coleman books particularly because she is not afraid to tackle difficult issues. Her characters always seem very real and, as a reader, one can’t help but be drawn to them and to start feeling involved with their lives. She is very good at showing different points of view and this is done particularly well through different characters telling different chapters. I was extremely moved when reading this book but be warned – it’s useful to have a pack of tissues at the ready!

If you like the sound of this, why not also take a look at Lessons in Laughing Out Loud by Rowan Coleman

Buy The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman at

Buy The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman at


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