The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.” The story goes very well from beginning to end. The life that it tells, that definitely has some rough patches. But it ends very, very well.
Death and discovery. It could be a metaphor for the life of Ian McQuaid. He was, after all, an archaeologist. He was also the father of Britomartis McQuaid, and it’s his death that begins Brit’s journey. Because with her father’s death, Brit discovers that much of what she knew about her father was a lie.
Brit thought her parents’ marriage was a reasonably happy and faithful one. Her mother died of cancer when Brit was eight, and her father never remarried; Brit’s memories are those of a child. Her father’s will leaves her a house on the Greek island of Corfu, one Brit never knew he owned, and a package to deliver to his long-ago lover, a woman he met, loved and left on that island, one long ago summer before Brit was born. The summer just before Brit was born.
His last letter tells her to “Go to Corfu. I hope you will find there the peace, the beauty, the sheer joy in being alive that I found.”
Brit goes in search of the mystery of her father’s life–the secret of what happened during that missing summer. She has time, and she has the burning need to know the truth. The things Brit doesn’t have are that peace, that joy that her father found on Corfu. She’s never had them, and she doesn’t expect to find them. She doesn’t believe they even exist, at least not for her. All the people she’s ever loved have left or rejected her, and she doesn’t even know why.
But on Corfu, she finds friendship, and in bringing the villa back to life, she finds peace and purpose. Brit starts to write, and finally finds joy in her work, real joy.
Love comes looking for her. And when it finds her, she begins to understand the reasons that her father made the decisions that he did, so long ago.
But there is one secret from that summer still left to be revealed. As Brit finally finds her joy, she discovers she has the power to totally destroy someone else. Or she can keep her father’s last secret.
Escape Rating A: I really loved this story. There were so many circles within circles, and they all came to the absolute perfect conclusions. There’s the mystery about what happened to Ian and Maria in the past, and you absolutely have to find out how their tragic love story ended so badly. Then there’s Brit’s unhappiness. You both want her to have a happy ending, and you want her to deal with her ghosts. Extra points for a particular person getting his just desserts near the end.
This is a story about resolutions. Not New Year’s resolutions, but about things getting resolved appropriately. Brit has to be ready for love before she can even get within shouting distance of happy, and Andreas is not just handsome, but also patient enough to be a friend first and wait for the moment to be right.
One other thing…this was just so good that I was able to forget the absolutely HUGE watermark that Rebel Ink Press puts on every single page of their eARCs. I was so completely immersed in the story and my eyes stopped seeing it.