Daily Archives: June 24, 2012

Mailbox Monday – June 25, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday which is hosted this month at Marie’s blog – Burton Book Review.

Go to the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Here is what showed up at my house this week:

As part of BOOK CLUB, Other Press sent me a copy of The Absolutist by John Boyne (trade paperback to be released July 10, 2012).  This claims to be “a masterfully told tale of passion, jealousy, heroism and betrayal set in the gruesome trenches of World War I.” The book is set in 1919 and centers around a twenty-one-year-old character named Tristan Sadler who is traveling by train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of the man he fought alongside during the Great War. But Tristan also carries a secret. This novel is a tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I.

John Boyne was born in Dublin, Ireland and studied English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. His award winning novel The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas was made into an award-winning Miramax film.  The novel sold more than 5 million copies worldwide. Learn more about Boyne and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Elaine from Penguin sent me a copy of The Bay of Foxes by Sheila Kohler (June 2012). The publisher calls this an “erotic tale of passion and power.” Set in 1978 Paris, the novel features Dawit, a young, beautiful, and educated Ethiopian refugee, who meets the famous French author M. at the height of her fame. M. invites Dawit to live with her, but when she brings him to her Sardinian villa, beside the Bay of Foxes, Dawit finds love and temptation—and perfects the art of deception.

Sheila Kohler was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. She lived for 15 years in Paris, where she married, did her undergraduate degree in literature at the Sorbonne, and a graduate degree in psychology at the Institut Catholique. She moved to the USA in 1981, and did an MFA in writing at Columbia.  Kohler has won two O’Henry prizes. Kohler has previously published eight novels. Her novel Cracks was nominated for an Impac award in 2001. Learn more about Kohler and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Jessica from Random House/Bantam Books sent me a copy of Getting Over Mr. Right by Chrissie Manby (July 10, 2012).  From the publisher: “This is one woman’s journey from love to lunacy and back again. If you ever recall past heartbreaks with acute embarrassment and an urge to go into hiding, this will make you feel better. Sure, you may have sent his new girlfriend a bunch of dead roses, but did you spend a grand on psychic hot-lines and a voodoo curse?

Chrissie Manby has published thirteen novels on the single life. She currently lives in London. Learn more about Manby and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR home this week?

The Memory of Love – Book Review

And when he wakes from dreaming of her, is it not the same for him? The hollowness in his chest, the tense yearning, the loneliness he braces against every morning until he can immerse himself in work and forget. Not love. Something else, something with a power that endures. Not love, but a memory of love. – from The Memory of Love, page 185 –

Sierra Leone is filled with survivors of a brutal civil war – people who are moving through the remains of their lives, traumatized by loss.

Kai is a young surgeon working in the capital hospital and struggling with his own memories of a lost love and an incident he has buried deep within his heart. Elias Cole is an old man, dying in a hospital bed, and wanting to unburden himself of terrible choices he made, to re-write his own history and spin his story to his own advantage. Adrian is a British psychologist who has left his wife and daughter to come to Africa and help survivors to recover emotionally.

Bound together by their own secrets, desires and one woman, these three men’s lives will become interwoven in ways none of them could ever have anticipated.

Immersed in the novel are the stories of not just the characters, but of a whole country changed by war. Aminatta Forna explores the resilience of the human spirit, the fine line between truth and lies, betrayal, and the ethereal power of love in a novel which spans nearly two decades.

People are blotting out what happened, fiddling with the truth, creating their own version of events to fill in the blanks. A version of the truth which puts them in a good light, that wipes out whatever they did or failed to do and makes certain none of them will be blamed. – from The Memory of Love, page 351 –

Forna constructs her novel with three distinct narratives which move the reader back and forth from present time to when Sierra Leone was embroiled in civil war. The voice of Elias Cole is the echo behind the other stories. Here is a man who begins his narrative with his attraction to a married woman, but whose story changes as the reader begins to see the character through the eyes of others. Driven, competitive, and willing to do anything to advance his career, Elias is a man who represents the quiet support behind the scenes which allows evil to propagate.

Adrian is a complex character – a man who is searching for something greater. He loves his child in England, but has grown distant from his wife. He is drawn to the people of Africa and wants to understand their torments. The last thing he expects to find, however, is love.

How does a man whose task in life is to map the emotions, their origins and their end, how does such a man believe in love? – from The Memory of Love, page 362 –

It was Kai, however, who I was most drawn to in this novel of loss. A young and gifted surgeon, a man whose job was to put back together the physically shattered lives of his patients, but whose own life was emotionally fragmented. My heart ached for Kai. I wanted to know what had happened to him…and Forna waits until the end of the novel to fully reveal his story. It is Kai’s character who brings the novel full circle, who links all the characters together.

Close at hand a dog adds its voice to those of the others. Kai thinks of the day and the journey he now has before him. He does not lack the courage for it. No. Rather it was the courage to stay that had failed him. – from The Memory of Love, page 287 –

The Memory of Love is a quiet novel which reveals the people of post-war Sierra Leone: a boy whose father was murdered, a man rebuilding his body and dreaming of marriage, a woman ready to reclaim her son born of a rape, a community strengthened by its collective memories and cultural ties. Forna’s writing is graceful, introspective, and beautifully rendered.

The Memory of Love is a novel for those readers who enjoy literary fiction and works which examine African culture. It is a book about survival and the power of love to heal us.

Highly Recommended.