Published in 2010 by Grove Press, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic
Source: My personal library
And when he wakes from dreaming of her, is it not the same for him? The hollowness in his chest, the tense yearning, the loneliness he braces against every morning until he can immerse himself in work and forget. Not love. Something else, something with a power that endures. Not love, but a memory of love.
Elias Cole is dying. The former dean of a university, Cole has survived and even thrived during Sierra Leone’s civil war. Now it’s decades later and as a much older man, Cole wants someone else to know how he succeeded when others faltered. Adrian is a young British psychologist who’s in Sierra Leone as a volunteer. Kai is a talented surgeon who’s witnessed more than most people his age. What brings these three men together is the memory of the past, of what they’ve lost and what’s left to be gained.
I should warn you: The Memory of Love is one of those books that you should read with a friend because once you’re finished with it, you’re going to need to talk to someone about it.
Forna does a magnificent job of giving readers beautiful writing, a very realistic story, and also the history of Sierra Leone. Before reading this book, I knew very little about the country’s civil war. I just knew that there had been a war and like most wars, mass casualties. The author gives readers history without turning it into a lecture. There aren’t gory details but the illustration of the psychological effects from it all.
‘I was doorman here,’ he adds. ‘Before.’ He says it as others do, in a way that conveys a sense of timelessness. Before. There was before. And there is now. And in between a dreamless void.
I found myself becoming invested in not only the main characters, but the people they tried to help. I wonder if Sierra Leone and its people could ever recover psychologically from all that it has been through, and what the future holds for it.
The Memory of Love, a haunting story of betrayal, love, and the possibility of hope, is not a book to miss. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction