Summary and book reviews of The Memory of Love by Linda Olsson

The Memory of Love

by Linda Olsson

The Memory of Love
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    Feb 2013, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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Book Summary

From the beloved author of Astrid & Veronika, a moving tale of friendship and redemption. Fans of Astrid & Veronika and Chris Cleave's Little Bee will be thrilled to read Linda Olsson's third novel. Here is Olsson doing what she does best: illuminating the terrain of friendship and examining the many forms that love can take.

Marion Flint, in her early fifties, has spent fifteen years living a quiet life on the rugged coast of New Zealand, a life that allows the door to her past to remain firmly shut. But a chance meeting with a young boy, Ika, and her desire to help him force Marion to open the Pandora's box of her memory. Seized by a sudden urgency to make sense of her past, she examines each image one-by-one: her grandfather, her mother, her brother, her lover. Perhaps if she can create order from the chaos, her memories will be easier to carry. Perhaps she'll be able to find forgiveness for the little girl that was her. For the young woman she had been. For the people she left behind.

Olsson expertly interweaves scenes from Marion's past with her quest to save Ika from his own tragic childhood, and renders with reflective tenderness the fragility of memory and the healing power of the heart.

1.

It was Thursday and I was making soup. By now it was an established routine. Greek fish soup this week. I was boiling the vegetables, and steam covered the window above the sink. The kitchen faced the beach with an unobstructed view of the endless sea, which at that moment was just a grey blur behind the film of condensation. I had cleaned the fish, three small snapper, and I was making the avgolemono, the lemon and egg sauce. The lemons were scruffy to look at, but as I cut them the fragrance filled the kitchen. The lemons from the tree behind the house seemed to have more taste and a more intense smell than any I had ever come across anywhere else. I whipped the egg whites, folded the yolks into them and then I added the lemon juice. I chopped the parsley, and it was all prepared. All that remained was to allow the vegetables to boil till they had softened, add the fish, and then at the last minute stir in the avgolemono and parsley. I had time to go and sit on the doorstep for a...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Linda Olsson’s story unfolds slowly, like a shell emptying sand, and just as that shell exposes its inner secrets, so too does the tale. The artful storytelling and transfixing characters creates a beautiful novel, one that passes from unhappiness to hope and regret to joy.   (Reviewed by Sarah Sacha Dollacker).

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Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Olsson’s eloquent prose offers an intimate, poignant portrait of a woman at midlife who finds her way back…to a life filled with love.

Booklist

[A] deeply poetic novel...and a credit to Olsson’s narrative technique…Fans of Jennifer Haigh and Heidi W. Durrow will appreciate this darkly emotional novel.

Mahrangimatters (New Zealand)

Olsson successfully intertwines New Zealand and Sweden to create a beautiful and compelling story.

Weekend Herald (New Zealand)

[A] tender, loving story ... concerned with searching and healing...You sense an author of real integrity.

Listener (New Zealand)

Olsson's lyrical style is perfectly suited to the reflective tenderness that characterises Marion's narrative voice. . . . The tragedies of the novel, combined with the powerful resonance of the windswept and lonely coast, makes [The Memory of Love] a heavily atmospheric novel of great emotional weight.

Sunday Star Times (New Zealand)

The emotional weather of the story is changeable and dramatic, with storm clouds sometimes threatening, unpredictable tides and winds of inner conflict, and chance meetings.

Gisborne Herald (New Zealand)

Linda Olsson writes beautifully, capturing the fragile nature of her characters and the beauty of the rugged landscape around her with great precision and subtlety.

Otago Times (New Zealand)

Haunting and beautiful, [The Memory of Love] is a reminder of the fragility of happiness and the impossibility of living without hope.

The Star (New Zealand)

One of the most stirring and sensitive books I have read for a long time... An outstanding read

Reader Reviews

JOAN MAYFIELD

Love is fragile
I loved this story even though it was heartbreaking to imagine that a child could go through such trauma and her ability to feel love resurrected by a child. I am presenting this book to my bookclub this month.

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Beyond the Book

Three New Zealand Authors of Note

The Memory of Love is mainly set in New Zealand where Swedish author Linda Olsson spends half the year. She spends the other half in her native Sweden. Olsson's novels have enjoyed worldwide readership, something, she says that most New Zealand authors rarely experience. There are brilliant New Zealand writers, Olsson says, whom many in the larger English-reading world have not heard of. Here are three to put on your to-read list:

Kerii Hulme Keri Hulme was born in 1947 to Scottish, English and Maori (native inhabitants of New Zealand) parentage, Hulme's only novel The Bone People, won the Man Booker Prize in 1985. As of 2012, she is the only New Zealander to win this coveted prize. The Bone People analyzes the intersection between European and...

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