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The Memory of Love Paperback – 7 Mar 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks; 1st Edition Pbk edition (7 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408809656
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408809655
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A writer of great talent and courage' (Monica Ali)

'An intricate tapestry of betrayal, tragedy and loss ... an affecting, passionate and intelligent novel about the redemptive power of love and storytelling' (Daily Telegraph)

'Let us hope that it takes its place where it deserves to be; not at the top of the pile of "African Literature" but outside any category altogether - and at the top of award shortlists' (The Times)

'Intelligent, engrossing and beautifully crafted' (Daily Mail)

Book Description

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize 2011

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"The Memory of Love" is a story set in Freetown, Sierra Leone featuring two triangular relationships separated by a generation, with parallel accounts set during the political unrest in 1969 at the time of the Apollo 11 moon landing and during the period 1999 to 2001 following the brutal civil war.
The earlier era features Julius Kamara and Elias Cole who are both lecturers at the same University. Whereas Julius is charismatic,politically motivated and an idealist, Elias Cole is traditional, politically disengaged, and possessed with only mediocre talent.These two characters have only one thing in common; their love for Saffia.
Julius' life and fate is dictated by his political ambitions and that of Elias by his infatuation with Saffia.
Move forward 30 years and Adrian a disenchanted Psychologist from London takes advantage of an overseas government sponsored post in Sierra Leone to research Post Traumatic Stress disorder. However, underpinning his decision to take up this post, is his need to escape from a stagnating marriage and to discover what he really wants out of life.He befriends Kai Mansaray a dedicated and accomplished young trauma surgeon who works tirelessly at the city hospital.
Like so many other victims of the civil war, Kai too is suffering from PTSD played out as recurrent nightmares and insomnia. Young hopes,plans and romances are destroyed and by a sad twist of fate work to Adrian's advantage.
Adrian is the centre point of the story which oscillates between the city hospital where Elias Cole, now terminally ill, talks through his earlier life at the university in an attempt to seek absolution, and the local mental asylum.
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Format: Hardcover
Aminatta Forna's memoir (The Devil That Danced on the Water) was, for me, an introduction to the recent history of Sierra Leone that went far beyond the headlines... it was a brave and true account. I enjoyed her first novel (Ancestor Stones)with its interwoven stories, but The Memory of Love book had me ignoring children, skipping meals and sneaking an extra half hour during my lunch break so I could spend more time with the characters. It's beautiful. She takes the reader deep into the heart of a story of two generations, betrayal, love and longing...and in these pages one travels to another place - to Free Town at the heady time of Independence, through the country's darkest times of war and, in the 'present day', with its traumatised people as they try to rebuild their city, their country and their lives. It's impossible not to fall in love with these characters - so intimately does the reader come to know them. It's Forna's skill that throughout, the politics (both personal and historic) remain as complicated as we know life to be - whereever we are. This is her best book yet...
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Format: Paperback
Set primarily in the late 1990s in Sierra Leone, a time in which a brutal Civil War is being waged and over fifty thousand people killed, this novel comes as a surprise. Telling two tales of love in two different generations, the author is mightily challenged to be true to her setting and time periods while also allowing the love stories to develop naturally within this fraught environment. She accomplishes this, largely, by referring to the war only obliquely for most of the novel, with flashbacks by individual speakers providing details of the war and explaining how the memories of war have affected the behavior of characters whom the reader has come to know. A flash-forward which takes place in 2003, after the end of the war, occurs at the end to reconcile elements of the plot and themes.

As the novel opens, Elias Cole, a former professor and Dean of the university in Freetown, is now an elderly hospital patient, dying a slow disease which robs him of his breath. There, he is a patient of Adrian Lockheart, a British psychiatrist who has left his wife and daughter behind in England while he works for six months in the hospital near the university. Adrian quickly discovers that the dying Elias has memories that he is impelled to share about his life in the 1970s, many of these involving Saffia, the wife of Julius Kamara, a young professor. Old-fashioned story-telling conveys episodes from Elias's memories of his much younger life, and the author emphasizes from the beginning that it is with these three characters that the entire story really begins--Elias Cole, Julius Kamara, and Saffia.

A parallel narrative, with different main characters, takes place sometime around 2001, near the end of the war, with flashbacks to events of the late 1990s.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This tale of the intertwined lives of three men living through the aftermath of a terrible civil war in 1990s Sierra Leone has the potential for a moving and thought- provoking drama.

It begins with Elias Cole as he suffers a slow painful death, haunted by memories of his obsessive love for Safia, the lovely wife of a charismatic colleague. Driven by the apparent desire to make some death-bed confession, but on his own terms, his calculating and manipulative personality is revealed.

Then there is Adrian, the introspective British psychiatrist with some vague urge to do good in a developing country struggling to recover from its shattered state. In fact, he is escaping from his marriage, for reasons that remain unclear. His affair with the beautiful Mamakay, who makes a sudden appearance well into the book, does not entirely convince me, and the guilt he feels for abandoning his wife and daughter is insufficiently explored.

Thirdly we have Kai, the young doctor traumatised by the horrors of the war, his nightmares alternating with nostalgic memories of his girlfriend Nenubah, whom I imagined for a long time to have perished tragically in the fighting. Kai makes the decision to emigrate to the States, lured by the encouragement of his best friend Tejani, but it is unlikely that he would do this without worrying more about the fate of Abass , the young nephew for whom he acts as a father. I also found the graphic descriptions of Kai conducting operations unnecessary - they serve only to give the author an opportunity to show off medical knowledge gained to give the book an authentic touch.

Forna creates a vivid impression of the scenery and way of life in Sierra Leone.
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