Title: The Memory of Us
Author: Camille Di Maio
Series: No Series
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Published: May 31st, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)
I originally saw this book because it was on sale. I bought it because it’s hard for me to resist what sounds to be a good historical fiction novel. I couldn’t put it down because it was beautiful and heartbreaking.The summary of The Memory of Us from Goodreads:
Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her.
While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love.
But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?
What I Liked:
First of all, the setting was gorgeous in the beginning. It was idyllic and beautiful and probably could have come out of a painting. Julianne has the life most girls dream of, yet she knows that what others see is just an illusion. They don’t know about her brother, hidden away because he was born blind and deaf. They don’t know that she feels like she has to be perfect to make up for what her parents see as her imperfect brother. They don’t see how she doesn’t love every aspect of her life, that she wants something more in her life.
Kyle doesn’t look at her and just see the prettiness. He sees a girl who visits her brother when so many others at the institution where he lives don’t get visits from family. He sees her kind heart and compassion for those around her. He sees a truer side to Julianne than many people see.
Their romance was sweet at first, and then it grew into something very powerful. Kyle is studying to be a priest, he’s Catholic, he’s a lowly gardener, and he’s Irish; all four things make their relationship nearly impossible. Yet neither can deny that there is something wonderful between them, no matter how hard they try. I loved how it began on something as simple as caring for another person, Julianne’s brother.
The World War II aspect was fantastically done. It really portrays the struggles and fears of that time well and how it impacted the daily lives of everyone in England. The war plays a major role in the story that I don’t want to give away, though, so I won’t speak on it much.
The book covers several decades, yet the pacing never feels slow or too quick. Di Maio knows when to take her time and let us savor the details and when she can push through time a little quicker to progress the story. She does an amazing job of bringing us into Julianne’s world and allowing us to follow her as she grows up from an innocent girl to a weary and scared woman.
What I Didn’t Like:
Julianne makes a decision that, initially, I had a problem with. However, her struggles after that decision and how she wrestles with herself constantly for years made me understand that it wasn’t as impulsive as it seemed. It was just as hard for her to make that decision as it was for me to read it. So while I still don’t completely agree with her decision, I understand the struggles that brought her to it.
I’d Recommend To:
It’s an emotional read, so be prepared for that. The Memory of Us is probably a good choice for people who like romantic historical fiction and romances that span decades. It’s not a quick story because you can’t encompass a lifetime of joy and pain quickly.
You can purchase The Memory of Us here: