Who is Cora? What is her story? What is currently known about her story? What is the mystery behind her? Does anyone know the whole truth? These are questions which within the first few pages of The Memory of Lost Senses come to mind. Quickly you are drawn in to the intrigue and you have to keep reading for the answers.
Sylvia says she knows the whole truth. But does she? She has lived in a fantasy world as much as Cora. Then along comes a bright young thing called Cecily Chadwick enamoured by Cora’s grandson Jack. All of a sudden the true story changes again and it is Cecily who is nearly at the truth, perhaps she’s starting to find out exactly who Cora is.
“Secrets are quite often beautiful in themselves, you know. We should all keep a part of ourselves for only us to own. We must never share the essence of who we truly are, for then we are lost, well and truly lost”.
What you don’t know initially as you read on is why Cora does not want Jack to know the truth about his grandmother. As the story starts to unfold, like a flower coming into bloom, brightening our day and then slowly closing and dying for another time, as readers we learn this is simply the story of Cora. How she came to where she was. How she got to where she was and how she ceremoniously could have fallen from grace from a very early age and taken many different paths in life. Coupled with the intense heat of the summer of 1911 which take Cora and the reader back to the smells and the sights of Rome and Paris in the past as well as the house in the Hampshire village.
Sylvia is the opposite to Cora; seemingly hanging on her coattails for all of her life after a friendship is forged when they are young. Still Sylvia is determined to get to the bottom of the truth to get to the true Cora. Cora has other ideas regarding Sylvia as she seems suddenly rather tired of Sylvia’s presence and insistence of going over the past. Something about Sylvia is sinister and the infatuation is strange, even down to Sylvia’s novels being based on Cora’s life. It is when Cecily appears that Sylvia’s friendship with Cora is tested and the real truth is acknowledged in a very different way. It is up to the reader to decide on the real Sylvia at this point and not Cora.
All of the mysteries in this story run throughout. They crossover continents, decades, friendships and relationships and culminate in a conclusion some 12 years later in 1923. Everyone has changed, the world has changed and perhaps once Cora and her story have died, her past will finally become clearer and the future subsequently brighter. Cecily thinking about Cora:
“And yet so much of life remained an enigma, even to Jack. But perhaps it was this, Cecily thought, perhaps it was the not knowing which allowed others, including herself, to imagine and fill in the gaps. In fact, they only added to the intrigue.”.
How can I define such a novel? This is a romance. This is a mystery. This is the story of intrigue. This is a story of heat affecting somebody’s mind and is perhaps a reflection that the truth is sometimes best left to the memory and the real truth best left to the past. There is only one way to find out – read this novel. It will intrigue you I am sure.
Thank you to the author and publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read this novel.