Margaret Forster: The Memory Box

R aunt and stepmother with no dialogue and virtually no interaction with other people The character of Catherine however I feel is not one you immediately warm to She comes across as spoiled and than a little self absorbed something the first person narration only emphasizes in my opinion The basic premise of this book is a great one however and you can t help but wonder what you would leave loved ones to help them get a sense of the person you really wereI think one of the things the book captures really well is how elusive and fragile memories can be Our sense of those that have died is an amalgamation of so many things our memories of them if we have any but also what we have been told about them good and bad and our judgement of the way they lived their lives At the end of the book you will be left wondering how well we can ever really now those that have gone before us This is the first of Margaret Forster s books that I ve tried reading and it won t be the lastSusannah died when her daughter Catherine was just six months old but Catherine grows up happily with her father s second wife becoming her Mummy and never wants to find out about Susannah However when Susannah How I Became a Nun knew she was dying she assembled a memory box for her baby daughter Finally opening the box as an adult having ignored it for years Catherine tries to piece together this jigsaw of a legacyI really liked the premise I thought it might be a bit of a manufactured sort of a story but it came over naturally enough The objects in the box aren t obvious and I thought that Catherine could probably have taken a different path through them and found out different things about Susannah Which isn t the point really the point is that it was a good story and the characters were consistentThe narrative reminded me of Barbara Vine a little possibly because there is a uiet sense of impending doom in the what will she find out about her mother uestion but there isn t a hugely terrible hidden secret in here like there would be with Vine It s a case of the surprising things that are hidden in ordinary lives Enjoyable read good writing an interesting plot and great characters I don t ask for much than that from a book really Absolutely loved this book so well written Catherine nevernew her mother Susannah who had died when Cathrine was just six months old But she had grown up hearing of how perfect Susannah was beautiful selfless and happy all the things that Catherine was not When Catherine opens her mother s memory box she finds it is full of strange unexplained objects all carefully wrapped and numbered As she begins to solve the mysteries she discovers the mother she never The Rose Tattoo and Other Plays knew realising that there was much to her than the family legend of a good and selfless person In doing so she in turn discovers truths about herself Written with Forster s usual deft touch this is a wonderful book about memory and grief Forster is always excellent when writing about the complex relationships within families and especially so those of her female character. Ing out what the objects represent is her only chance to find out about the mother she neverne.

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I discovered author Margaret Forster when I swapped for this book at our Lumburn Court campsite near Tavistock The Memory Box was in a book box in the shower roomI was interested to see how Forster would develop her premise of a woman discovering her lost mother some thirty years later through the contents of a gaudy hat box Catherine s mother Susannah died when she was just six months old Her father remarried and Catherine had always rejected the idea of her birth mother instead insisting that her stepmother Charlotte fulfilled that maternal role perfectly Knowing she was dying Susannah carefully chose wrapped and boxed eleven items instructing that the box be given to Catherine However through various circumstances Catherine didn t get the said box until after her father stepmother and grandmother had died too With a prickly aunt being the only person left who actually The Undoing Project knew Susannah Catherine is left unravelling the myth of her perfectly happy mother s perfect life single handedlyThe Memory Box is an incredibly introspective and introverted novel which is uite unusual and I thoroughly enjoyed the book Catherine examines her own life seeing her choices differently in the light of what she learns about her biological mother Forster uses her characters to develop a fascinating discussion of motherhood in its many forms and influences Did Charlotte s constant presence mould the young Catherine to a greater extent than Susannah s genes Is Catherine s rejection of close friendships and of motherhood for herself a result of her early abandonmentFor me this novel was a page turner all the way through and I never lost interest in Catherine s uest Some of her intuitive jumps were too convenient to be believable which why I have only awarded four stars however overall I very much enjoyed The Memory Box and look forward to discovering of Forster s workSee of my book reviews on my blog Stephanie Jane Irritating readEventually I became irritated by her conjectures about people s motives I thought her emotional responses unconvincing I was intrigued at the start by her story but lost interest by the last 25% of the book I d never heard of Margaret Foster before I came across this book at a charity sale but I ll definitely look up some of her fiction in the future She reminds me a lot of Margaret Atwood specifically Cat s Eye both in style and content I ve seen reviews where readers disliked the lack of a huge ending but I think that s what makes the plot so interesting Through the exploration of the memory box the narrator goes on a journey of discovery not only of her birth mother but also of herself and gradually she begins to understand her personality and her behaviours In addition she grieves the death of the mother who shenew and the mother who she didn t and comes out of the other side of the process accepting of her childhood and life experiences If you appreciate the gentle self discovery of characters rather than always needing a bug reveal then I think this is definitely one to try I was hoping. A young woman leaves a sealed memory box for her baby daughter before she dies Years later as

That Catherine would discover something huge about Susanna In this case I was totally disappointed I do not fancy people who seem to enjoy wallowing in their unhappy states and clearly Catherine is one of such she cuts off people who try to reach out to her admits she has no friends to speak of ignoring them till they take the hint and leave her alone Edging out Tony who clearly loves her then digging deep into her to find fault with Charlotte who she describes as having loved her unconditionally so much that she did not feel that she missed Susanna Not everything in life is to be analyzed and understood Some things just are and should be taken as such Life is to be enjoyed something Catherine needs to learn Really great story about what happens when a daughter opens a memory box from her dead mother This is not the story line from my perspective it s about finding herself in some surprising placesBrilliantly written and a great read What an interesting writing style Margaret Forster has She takes an awfully long time to get to any point but it s really engaging along the way I liked the way this book gradually revealed information about both the main character her dead mother and some of the other characters in the book The book like Margaret Forster s writing is a slow burn The characters were well described and empathetic I loved the way Rory was a very selfish yet sensitive character He was completely believable and I m sure everyone First Flight (Dragon School knows someone like himCatherine though was slightly harder to get your head around but that is I think the point of the book the learning about peopleThis is not a hard read but it is slow and not gratifying for someone who likes action I did enjoy it and the concept of a box of memories from beyond the grave was well thought out however I think it promised a little in the way of reveals than it delivered Clearly this is Margaret Forster s style and she has written it well but I think the same premise could have been an actionmystery novel with another writer and unfortunately the premise is so compelling that it disappoints in the execution Catherine s birth mother Susannah died when she was just a young baby leaving her with no memories of her at all Her father remarries shortly afterwards and Catherine is only too happy to accept this new woman into her life as the only mother she will ever need Throughout her childhood she manages to block out all references to Susannah and refuses to hear of any traits they may have in common when family members speak of herIt is only years later when she stumbles across a box of objects Susannah had carefully selected for her when shenew she was dying that Catherine becomes intrigued But what starts off as a hunt for clues about her dead mother and her past may end up revealing just as much about Catherine and her present I was hoping that Catherine would discover something huge about Susannah In this case I was totally disappointedThe book is effectively Catherine s internal monologue about her feelings towards her mothe. Young woman herself Catherine finds her mother's box full of unexplained even weird objects Find.

Margaret Forster was educated at the Carlisle and County High School for Girls From here she won an Open Scholarship to Somerville College Oxford where in 1960 she was awarded an honours degree in History From 1963 Margaret Forster worked as a novelist biographer and freelance literary critic contributing regularly to book programmes on television to Radio 4 and various newpapers and magazin