Tuesday, June 13, 2017

THE MEMORY OF YOU by Catherine West

The Memory of YouIt has been 13 years since Natalie Mitchell has spent anytime at her grandfather's California vineyard.
As a child, the vineyard was the summer playground for Natalie and her twin sister Nicole, but all that changed when the two teenagers were involved in an accident which took Nicole's life and left Natalie in a perpetual state of grief, guilt, and emotional upheaval.  Now, Natalie's domineering father
sole purpose in sending Natalie, principal stock holder in the vineyard, west is to force a shut-down of what he believes is a failing business.  Natalie sees beyond her grandfather's health issues and old fashioned ways to see new potential, but her desire to make changes is stymied by her returning panic attacks and her confrontations with Tanner Collins, the present winery manager.  Tanner just happens to be her first teen crush, and the one who Natalie believes chose Nicole over herself.

As the title THE MEMORY OF YOU foreshadows, this is a story of how one's memories of the past affect and often, hinder, the present and the future.  Natalie is not the only one struggling with haunting memories.  Tanner's ability to make any decisions about his family, especially his niece and nephew, who he is currently raising, is shadowed by his own childhood.  And when Natalie's long-absent uncle returns to the winery, he must make amends with not only his father, but with the woman he left at the altar over 30 years earlier. While I thoroughly enjoyed West's earlier book THE THINGS WE KNEW, which also dealt with family members returning, old issues being resolved, and even a teen crush reappearing, I found that this story a bit slow going.  I never truly felt immersed in a wine country setting, despite references to wine tastings and Tanner's daily responsibilities.  And I found the bristly attitude Tanner had toward Natalie was a bit overdone.  Plus there were a few winery workers who appeared in the novel to create a bit of drama and unease, but I would have rather seen more interaction between Natalie and the grandfather she loved so much.  Instead, he was often absent and when present seemed to be a shadow of a person.  I am sure most readers will love this work, as much as I loved and recommended THE THINGS WE KNEW.  Why it did not totally click with me, I am having a difficult time discerning.  I just know that it took me several days to read this book; I often picked it up and only read a few pages before putting it down again.  Most times once I start a novel, I am so drawn into it that I want to put all other projects aside,  and I never felt that way with THE MEMORY OF YOU.  If I had to give the book a ranking, I would give it a 3.5-4.0, not the solid 4.5 I give most novels I enjoyed. I try to keep the 5 rating for truly memorable books.

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