Despite the subject matter being similar to that explored in Alice’s story, Rowan Coleman’s novel The Memory Book with its unforgettable protagonist Claire, offers the reader an even more compelling tale of the challenges and the highs and lows experienced by all who are touched by her illness.
Claire is a flamboyant, gutsy school teacher who fearlessly lives life to the beat of her own unique drum. That is until she falls victim to early onset Alzheimer’s disease and sees both her memory and her precious independence slipping away. As her disease progresses, she is presented with a brightly coloured memory book (one which Claire knows is her favourite , even though she can’t quite remember what that colour called) to use as a physical repository for her fading memories and in which, during her increasingly fleeting moments of lucidity, she writes her story.
This is a beautifully written, emotional rollercoaster of a novel that succeeds in conveying the heart-breaking reality of the disease while still retaining a humorously irreverent edge.
The Memory Book is ultimately a story of the transformative power of love in all its different forms, from the unwavering love of a mother to the heartbreak of a devastated new husband and from the love of a grown daughter for her ailing mother to the love of a three year old, whose toddler’s perspective provides the narrative with hilarious moments of comic relief.
It is ultimately an uplifting story with a twist in the tail and I hope that the film-making God’s will shine their silver-screen spotlight on this novel, as I think it would make an even better movie than Still Alice. All I can really say is read it! You won’t be sorry!