REVIEW: The Memory of You by Catherine West
THE MEMORY OF YOU by Catherine West seized my interest from the beginning with its vineyard setting, then riveted me with its emotional journey. An excellent character-driven story of broken faith transformed, THE MEMORY OF YOU is packed with thought-provoking issues. Listed as women’s fiction, this novel also excels in the inspirational romance category. Fans of sweet romance books, which are still a bit edgy with flawed characters, will enjoy this one immensely.
Catherine West is a new-to-me author, so I had no expectations. I was thrilled when this novel kept hitting my preferences. Natalie Mitchell is fighting PTSD from a tragic event in her life. Not willing to admit her weakness to her perfectionist father, Natalie jumps at the chance to visit her grandfather and evaluate their family’s failing vineyard. Her father thinks Natalie will agree with his assessment and advise the closure of the winery. But, her grandfather believes Natalie’s heart lies with this land.
All my favorite tropes are in this novel. First, it takes place in Sonoma, California, at a family-run vineyard. I love books that feature American farming ingenuity. Next, we have a heroine facing PTSD instead of the hero, which I found exceedingly interesting, especially since we don’t know the full extent of Natalie’s situation. The author releases the specifics slowly through interaction with the other characters. In true women’s fiction style, the emotive tally is heightened until we find out the startling reason behind Natalie’s illness.
Next, we have the reunited “best friends” theme and we’re introduced to Tanner Collins, Grandpa’s right-hand-man and vintner. Tanner was also Natalie’s first crush when they were teens. Tanner has worked hard for the vineyard and he doesn’t appreciate Natalie’s interference. He also has the added responsibility of caring for his sister’s children while she recovers from an accident. When Natalie and Tanner begin to compare their lives, they realize they have a lot more in common than they imagined, including their loss of faith.
Then, we have the MIA uncle who decides to come home for a breather and make amends. And secrets – lots of secrets to add to the emotion that’s sure to build. Natalie is a mess emotionally, but it’s reasonable considering her personal losses. Add that to all the things left unsaid between their families and you have the perfect mix for a maelstrom when all these strong-willed people decide they have the answers that don’t agree with God’s plan for their future.
I thought that the faith aspects seemed overdone in some respect, when it could have been kept to fewer characters and evolved more realistically. It was beautifully rendered, so it didn’t undermine my enjoyment, but it did make me wonder how I would have reacted with less. There were quite a few complications to be resolved that seemed to be jammed up at the end of the story. That made me want to skip ahead to find out what was going on, so I had to force myself to slow down and enjoy the journey.
THE MEMORY OF YOU is a captivating book with two love stories, lots of heartrending emotion, a passel of people renewing their faith, layered with cute kids and dogs, closing with a feel-good conclusion of hope. The author didn’t shy away from life’s challenges such as death, divorce, lies, and the reverberating effects. Be prepared to shed a few tears, even in the beauty of the resolutions. This novel is so close to a top rating of 5 for me, that I consider it a recommended read at 4.5. I can’t wait to delve into Catherine West’s backlist.
Reviewed by Dorine, courtesy of The Zest Quest. Digital ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley for an honest review.
The Memory of You by Catherine West
Category: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Thomas Nelson (March 28, 2017)
Rate 4.5 out of 5, Recommended Read!