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Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Memories That Make Us

Title: The Memories That Make Us
Author: Vanessa Carnevale
Publisher: 19 February 2018 by Harlequin (Australia), TEEN / MIRA
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: women's fiction, contemporary
My Rating: 5 crowns


Gracie Ashcroft is supposed to marry Blake Beaumont in three months’ time. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who he is…

After an accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia, she’s forced to decide: live a life that is made up of other people’s memories of who she was, or start a new life on her own. Leaving her fianc√© Blake behind, she moves to the country where she takes on the task of reviving her family’s abandoned flower farm.

While attempting to restart a business with an uncertain future, she tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a mother she can’t remember and a fianc√© she so badly wants to fall in love with again. What she doesn’t count on is developing a deep connection with Flynn, a local vet. Worst of all is having to confront the fact that she might lose either chance at love.

Forced to examine the person she has become, Gracie confronts the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

My Thoughts

I read Vanessa’s first book, ‘The Florentine Bridge’ (review HERE) and loved it - would her second novel be equally as compelling? Let me just say, I have only now come up for air - finished it in a day - beautifully compelling, I could not put it down. What not to love - the delectable cover, my home state setting (love Daylesford), the storytelling and the twist - yup, this is one special book to lose yourself in for a weekend.

‘Somehow, even if not by choice, you’ve been given a clean slate, a way to create a life you want that’s free from all the baggage and the drama that most people spend their whole lives trying to escape.’

Where to start? Well, how about at the beginning. What’s this book really all about, the blurb states it outright: ‘if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?’ So very interesting and Gracie’s story here really gets you thinking what would you have done if in her shoes? Written in the first person throughout, you are totally aligned with all Gracie is going through with her amnesia. I love her decision to remove herself to her late mother’s flower farm for perspective and reflection.

‘I don’t want to be told stories about how things were and what I felt. I want to know it and feel it myself. Otherwise, how am I going to know if what I feel is real?’

Secondly, I have to make note of the setting - a small country town, Daylesford, in my home state of Victoria (Australia). This is a beautiful part of the world and Vanessa really captures everything about it - from the main street, to the local pub to the past glory of her mother’s flower farm. An area full of natural beauty and on this occasion, the perfect setting for all the reflection and memories that were to unfold. Next, let’s talk about flowers - my gosh! Has Vanessa done her homework here and how interesting is it! Without being overly burdened with facts, you are provided with an honest introduction to many things involved with not only flower farming but also individual flower meaning and significance (I loved the character of Tilly!)

Finally the characters - both primary and secondary - are so well thought out. You feel for Gracie and what her obvious frustrations must be. You understand her best friend Scarlett trying so hard to help remind her of all she once was. Even the likes of Charlie and his wife Maggie (suffering alzheimer's) have their part to play. Then there is the romance and Flynn ... sigh ... no words - just read the book.

‘But isn’t it our past that shapes our future?’
‘To a degree …’
‘Exactly,’ I say. ‘It’s our memories that make us who we are.’

This is just a really beautifully told story full of heartbreak, fear and ultimately, trying to discover who one really is, especially when all seems lost. I feel like I have been on a real emotional journey and that is just how one wants to walk away from a book of this nature. Considering, just how much does our past shape our future? Or ....

‘Maybe what matters is simply how I feel about you all, now.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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