An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood.
Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher, and after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, whose own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationship with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control.
Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her?
In The Memories We Bury the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.
The Memories We Bury is unlike any other book I’ve read recently, if ever. It’s more a story about relationships and obsession and the pressure that one person can put on another through manipulation and power. That might sound a bit strong in the case of kindly old Morag, but the more you read (and eventually the more you know) about her, the more you can see how she infiltrates Lizzie’s life and then takes over. Having her own children who don’t want children of their own, she is destined never to be a grandmother. She blames their broken relationships on the children, while they blame it on her. She sees herself as a loving mum and potential gran, who only wants to help and give advice. But the more we discover, the more we realise that her children always felt that she was pushing and controlling and while they became successful, they both left home at 18 to escape her ‘clutches’.
Lizzie also had a difficult childhood. An only child, her mother never showed her any love until she discovered her musical talent. However, once she found out that Lizzie, whilst an excellent musician, was not destined to be a famous concert pianist, her ardour cooled. Lizzie’s dad and granddad loved her anyway, but never had the strength to stand up to her mother. Now they have all passed away, Lizzie is easy prey for Morag.
But I’ve jumped forward. Lizzie has had a whirlwind romance with the handsome, charismatic Markus (who’s a bit of a prat really), married him in an instant, but even though she knows he doesn’t want children for ages, has fallen pregnant. Markus is accepting without being enthusiastic and works away from home more and more. He has to pay for their beautiful home and materialistic lifestyle. And they happen to live next door to Morag.
Once Morag knows that Lizzie is pregnant, she does everything to help – to insinuate herself into Lizzie’s life so she can have a baby to care for and eventually Lizzie won’t be able to manage without her help. It’s an obsession and a dangerous one. But Morag passes herself off as this kindly ‘old’ lady – except she’s not even old (she’s younger than me!) and kindly – well yes in her own way.
The story moves quite slowly at the beginning and Morag’s controlling nature is always there in the background but doesn’t really show itself all at once. It creeps along in sinister fashion – in fact I found her behaviour quite creepy early on. Years ago I met a woman who ‘claimed’ me as her ‘best friend’ in a matter of weeks of meeting, to the point where I couldn’t find any more excuses not to do something with her as she always had an answer. I felt undermined and needed to escape. Lizzie feels beholden to Morag as she’s been so helpful, but she also feels that she can never have other friends or regain her independence. You just can’t say no to some people. They take over your life.
It’s a very clever story which gets into your head and stays there. I read into the night to finish it and ultimately felt quite sorry for Morag. See what you think!
About the Author
Helene Andrea Leuschel gained a Master in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She later acquired a Master in Philosophy, specialising in the study of the mind. Helene has a particular interest in emotional, psychological and social well-being and this led her to write her first novel, Manipulated Lives, a fictional collection of five novellas, each highlighting the dangers of interacting with narcissists. She lives with her husband and two children in Portugal.
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/312QmDI
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/310tsN5