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12 September 2013

Review: 'The Memory Box' by Sarah Webb (2013)

Pandora Schuster is about to turn thirty but that’s the least of her worries. In Dublin she has just been tested for a hereditary family illness and, expecting the worst, is desperate for her ex-boyfriend and father of nine-year-old Iris to be a part of her daughter’s life. There are two major problems: Olivier Huppert lives in Paris and he has no idea that Iris even exists. So when Pandora secretly tries to find Olivier during her Parisian birthday weekend, it all ends in disaster.

As the agonising weeks until her test results crawl by, Pandora manages to find some distraction with her kind and sensible boyfriend, Declan, and with her fellow Shoestring Club members as they time-share a fabulous new designer dress. Yet matters of the heart are not easily forgotten and Pandora is determined for Iris to know the truth about her handsome, charismatic father. So she creates a memory box filled with photos, letters and mementoes of the magical time she spent with Olivier in Paris.

But when the past and the present start to collide Pandora finds herself having to choose between her head and her heart...

One of the best things ever has to be book post. I love receiving packages with books in them; packages promising lovely new stories to get lost in! Several weeks ago I received a package I wasn’t expecting, and I pulled out a review copy of Sarah Webb’s latest release, ‘The Memory Box’ (thanks so much for sending me a copy, Lucie!). By simply looking at the title and the cover, I already had a feeling this would be a novel I’d definitely enjoy. Sarah Webb is not an unfamiliar name, but I had never read any of her novels before, so I was quite curious to start reading, hoping my expectations would match reality!

Pandora Schuster lost her mother to cancer when she was just a teenager, which resulted in Pandora and her sister growing up with their father and the help of their grandmother. Now, Pandora’s thirtieth birthday is nearing, when she is unexpectedly contacted by a former friend of her mother who happens to be a doctor. She tells Pandora about a breast cancer gene she might have, which would increase the risk of her getting the same disease that eventually ended her mother’s life. Pandora decides to take a test to see if she has the gene or not, while at the same time it makes her think about her daughter, Iris, and the father she never met, Olivier. Pandora plans a birthday weekend to Paris, to track down Olivier and convince him to play a role in Iris’ life. Yet, things don’t go exactly as planned, and Pandora soon finds herself back home, not only worrying about her test results, but also about her boyfriend Declan, the Shoestring club, and the question of whether to continue to make sensible decisions or to simply follow her heart...

I absolutely love the idea behind the Shoestring Club; a group of women who can’t afford expensive dresses, but in order to be able to wear them after all, they share. I think this is a brilliant idea, also one that brings people with a shared passion for beautiful clothes together, and I’d love to be part of a group like this. ‘The Shoestring Club’, which was released in 2012, is actually the first part of the Shoestring series, followed by ‘The Memory Box.’ I didn’t read the other novel, but this didn’t influence the reading experience in any way. Sarah Webb explains everything and there wasn’t any moment in the book when I felt like I was missing bits of the story. ‘The Memory Box’ includes some fabulous characters, like Pandora and her entire family (I especially loved her grandmother, Bird, and little Iris), and after reading this novel I am even more excited about being able to pick up a copy of ‘The Shoestring Club’, to discover more about some of these fascinating characters!

The idea of a memory box (in this case, Pandora’s box, which is of course a great play of words) immediately spoke to me. I’ve always been fascinated by memories and capturing events and emotions by saving little things that remind you of that particular moment in time. The novel deals with quite some heavy and emotional things, but Sarah Webb manages to keep the tone light and pleasant. I also loved how there were different storylines; especially Alex and Markham’s plotline was really enjoyable to read. Overall, ‘The Memory Box’ is a warm and touching novel, a perfect read to help ignore the wet and colder Autumn weather that is coming up!    

 Keep an eye on this blog for an interview with Sarah Webb and a chance to win a copy of 'The Memory Box'!

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