Julianne Westcott was living the kind of life that other Protestant girls in prewar Liverpool could only dream about: old money, silk ball gowns, and prominent young men lining up to escort her. But when she learns of a blind-and-deaf brother, institutionalized since birth, the illusion of her perfect life and family shatters around her.
While visiting her brother in secret, Julianne meets and befriends Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic groundskeeper studying to become a priest. Caught between her family’s expectations, Kyle’s devotion to the church, and the intense new feelings that the forbidden courtship has awakened in her, Julianne must make a choice: uphold the life she’s always known or follow the difficult path toward love.
But as war ripples through the world and the Blitz decimates England, a tragic accident forces Julianne to leave everything behind and forge a new life built on lies she’s told to protect the ones she loves. Now, after twenty years of hiding from her past, the truth finds her—will she be brave enough to face it?
My Thoughts on The Memory of Us
When I began reading Camille Di Maio’s début novel, The Memory of Us, I had no expectations as I had read very little about the book. The synopsis on NetGalley was the only information I had read about the author or her book. No reviews, no advance marketing information, no nothing.
At best, I expected the story of a Julianne Prescott, a Protestant young woman living in Liverpool, before the start of the Second World War. There was the hint of emotional turmoil in Julianne’s home with her parents, obviously over the secreted brother mentioned in the synopsis.
Di Maio develops her characters carefully as she manages to keep the secrets secret and not let anything out of the bag. The characters are realistic, human folks struggling during tension-filled times both at home and in the rest of the world. Julianna is especially conflicted over going behind her parents’ backs to see her brother, Charles. It is during these secret visits she meets someone, a young man who is a gardener at the hospital where Charles lives.
The author gives us a twinkling ray of hope that Julianna, despite her upbringing, will be able to look beyond the gardener’s meager circumstances. Quite an inner battle ensures, and Di Maio does a stellar job at creating Julianna’s personal conflict over this young man. Between her attraction to him and the secrecy of her visits to Charles, she is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The plot is somewhat slow moving and the book could have possibly been a bit shorter. However, this is the author’s prerogative in outlining the plot developments.
All in all, after reading a couple of heavy books, The Memory of Us, was a nice change of pace.
Fans of historical fiction, WWII, family relationships, and class structure will enjoy reading this book and learning how everything works out.
About the Author
Camille is an award-winning real estate agent in San Antonio who, along with her husband of 18 years, home schools their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing.
She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too.
Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmers markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries), and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it does’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal.
“The Memory of Us” is Camille’s debut novel, and her second book, “Before the Rain Falls” will be released in spring 2017.