An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood, from the author of Manipulated Lives.
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, who’s 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.
Lizzie is a great character and one that I think most readers will like and sympathise with immediately – I felt genuinely angry on her behalf at times while reading this novel. She shares her memories of her childhood, and in particular her relationship with her mother, who was cold, distant, and constantly disappointed in Lizzie. I felt that this past explained her actions in the present. She’s a character who is looking for love from any quarter, and is prepared to accept quite a lot in order to get it – even agreeing with others and going against her own wishes. There were times when I wanted her to put her foot down and to say no to those around her, but it’s clear that her lack of confidence holds her back, and she avoids conflict at all costs. Leuschel has a fantastic understanding of human psychology, and this shines through in the novel as Lizzie’s childhood paves the way for the present day.
As a new mum, it shouldn’t fall to Lizzie to do everything to care for her new son, Jamie, as well as managing the house. Her husband, Markus, is around, and even if the pregnancy came a little unexpectedly, he played his part in it. Unfortunately for Lizzie, Markus makes his intentions clear from the outset – he misses the birth of his son, and then refuses to change nappies, prepare food, cook, clean, even refusing to get up in the night to comfort Jamie and allow Lizzie to sleep a little. Markus is utterly clueless, and while that in itself isn’t an issue, he makes no attempt to rectify his lack of knowledge or experience, leaving Lizzie to do everything. It’s clear that he’s an utterly selfish individual who can’t stand the slightest criticism, and sees himself in the traditional role of breadwinner, while his wife tends home and hearth. To make things worse, he is critical of Lizzie’s post-baby body, even though he proclaims his comments are made in jest.
It’s therefore understandable that Lizzie clings to the lifeline offered by their neighbour, Morag, who is only too happy to help. Her own children have grown up and left home, and Morag is more than happy to share her knowledge and experience as both a nurse and a mother with Lizzie, providing the encouragement she so desperately needs. I soon became wary of Morag, however, as she begins – slowly at first – to overstep the mark. Once she has a foot in the door, there’s no stopping her, and she seems to feel some sense of entitlement to Jamie. Her behaviour borders on the obsessive, and while she may just be overzealous, her behaviour comes across as being a little creepy at times.
It was important though that Lizzie knew how essential I had become in her life, and that she had to tread carefully before professing any criticisms again.
The Memories We Bury is by turns uncomfortable and creepy, and builds up to a shocking finale. The last line in particular has quite an impact. This is a novel that will make you question the motives and behaviour of its characters and will leave you wondering whose version of events to believe. Recommended.
The Memories We Bury will be published on 17 April. Many thanks to H. A. Leuschel for the opportunity to read and review ahead of publication.
H. A. Leuschel is the author of: