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The Memory of Love
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on 29 February 2016
The Memory of Love tackles how people overcome the brutalities of war and the trauma which follows. It is a tale of love , of loss and of regret. Of how people conform to others to save themselves from oppressors and the consequences of their decisions. This novel touched my heart, made me weep and has left me with deep thoughts about how people act. The writing is superb. The detail is enough to immerse you on the surrounding of Africa, without being too much that it looses it's points. I would absolutely recommend this book if you enjoy a novel that offers a reflection of am event in history through characters that suffered its horrific events, yet manage to hold on to hope throughout. The descriptions of brutalities are not for the faint hearted but nor are they there as a f
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on 13 January 2014
Secrets, memories and living to survive. This skilfully portrays the disconnect between well meaning foreigners coming to Sierra Leone to 'help' without really understanding what went on here during the war and before. Much cannot be 'fixed' like the surgeon in the book repairs wounds, but even he cannot fix the deeper wounds. It asks questions about the complicit silence which remains - people cannot forget, but neither can they talk about what happened without re-opening the sores and unleashing who knows what. How far can you go in looking after yourself and your family at the expense of others?There are enough mental health issues here for a lifetime's work for a legion of psychiatrists. Most people will get no help, but will have to find their own way to continue surviving. On first reading I found the mixing of past and present a bit difficult at times, but on re-reading it was clearer.
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on 29 September 2013
One of the very best books I have read in a long time, it is subtle, thought provoking and evocative. The main characters Adrian the idealistic psychologist, Kai the war traumatised surgeon and Elias Cole the academic craving absolution through the retelling of his story are irrevocably linked together. Set in Sierra Leone and shadowed by the atrocities of war, the story revolves around choices made, the motivation behind them and the implications resulting. Written in language that brings the emotions and events vividly to life the book is one to be savoured as an experience. The story moves from past to present skilfully and it seems at times to delay the gratification of the reader as to what happened next or to protect one from overwhelming emotion
A superb book; the first I have discovered by Aminatta Forna and a stimulus to read her others.
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on 16 May 2012
I couldn't put this book down. Her characters have flaws but I felt for each of them. The author skillfully weaves her tale and draws you into their lives. Gradually their stories unfold and you realise how they are linked and how the war and its aftermath and the state of the country has affected them. I must admit I only had a hazy knowledge of the history of the country in which it's set, so her novel prompted me to read up about what happened there.

I don't agree with some of the reviewers that the format is confusing. Yes, the author goes back and forth in time and between characters, but because they are so strongly drawn I felt as if I knew each person really well.

It's not an easy or comfortable read, but it's well worth it. The details of the operations performed by Kai, the victims' accounts about the atrocities of war and the impact on their mental state are harrowing, but the story is both moving, powerful and thought provoking.

I'm planning to read her other novels now.
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on 1 March 2015
Excellent, eloquently written book. Rich in detail of the ravages of civil war, broken hearts and broken people. But in the end a conclusion of enduring hope. The book for me took a little while to settle into - but in then had me gripped- so well written I did not want to squander the reading in hasty snatched episodes. I read it in deeply satisfying chunks. If you are interested in culture and other countries troubles, and the human condition- this will be of interest - in the league of a thousand splendid suns.

The ending nothing to give away -a few bits and pieces tied up, but in the main sufficiently satisfyingly incomplete- another story/life unfolds.
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on 23 January 2013
I have read some of Aminatta Forna's work before, and enjoyed it.

This however is in a different camp. It's slow to get going, a hard read for at least 10 chapters. Eventually the flow gets going and there is some excellently researched detail in the novel, but the narrative seems contrived, forced, to portray the story of Sierra Leone (or Freetown at least) in a different light. The plot achieves neither the slow burn of a story unravelling nor the punch of an unexpected ending.

Too many coincidences to be plausible, a jarring and inconsistent finish out of context with the overall novel: these don't detract from the quality of the individual words, but alas the sum is not greater than its parts. Once it got going I enjoyed this book, but not so much I would want to read it again. Next!
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on 17 September 2012
I was little apprehensive about this book that it was going to be quite a traumatic read which lead me through the trials of people facing up to the horrors of a brutal civil war and genocide. In fact it was much more about personal stories of love and its loss and the exposure to the horrors of what happened was relatively short-lived and self-contained, whilst the allusions to the sinister goings in the country at the peak of the trouble are clearly felt throughout. I loved this book and the journey it took me on and I was left feeling very satisfied, as if having dined on a very good meal.
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on 9 September 2016
A wonderful, sad, complex story of the many faces of love. Of the aftermath of war and its affects on a group of people, some holding scars some trying to help people on all sides of it remember so they can move on from being haunted by it. The sad part when people survive the horrors but are then taken unexpectedly.
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on 30 July 2011
I just wish this compelling and moving story had been told in fewer pages! Never having read anything by Aminatta Forna before, I downloaded The Memory of Love based on its many 5-star ratings and because the subject intrigued me. Whilst enjoying the lyrical prose style I found the first 30% frustratingly slow, and very nearly gave up. However, I did persevere, though it wasn't until I was past the middle that it really began to grip me.

I was struck by the sensitive and unsensationalised recounting of unimaginable horrors and their consequences, and the hauntingly evocative sense of time and place. I would endorse the glowing comments of other reviewers and feel it has given me an insight into a world I previously knew nothing about.

I am reluctant to criticise a published author of great talent and emotional intelligence, and do so only to encourage anyone tempted to give up to stick with it - it will reward you!
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on 1 September 2014
I almost put this book down several times. It felt like nothing was happening, but there was something compelling in the story which slowly unravelled. At first, because I so disliked the character of Elias Cole, I didn't think I could bear to expose myself to more of his character. He is a character for whom it is impossible to find any sympathy for. The other characters are more intriguing and likeable. I cared what happened to them. To be honest I found the beauty of this book in the last fifty pages or so...
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