Saturday, 26 March 2011

Orange 2011: The memory of love (Forna)

I'm afraid that The memory of love, my fifth Orange read since the longlist was announce, is the first that has made me stall a bit. I've eventually made my way through it, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the first four which I could not put down. That's not to say it isn't an excellent novel and extremely well written- it's got 8 reviews on Amazon, all of which are 5*, and excellent critical acclaim on the back cover - it just wasn't the sort of book that I usually enjoy. Being more specific, if you like wordy, literary novels, along the lines of Kiran Desai, then I am sure you will get on far better than me - I don't, and it felt like hard work to finish it.

It's another globe-trotting Orange, set in Sierra Leone following the Civil War, and at the end of the twentieth century, and centres around the characters of Kai, a young surgeon, Elias, a former university lecturer who is in hospital, and Adrian, a psychiatrist from Britain.

I think I struggled most with the dense, descriptive prose which just seemed to slow the pace down for me. For example, this paragraph, which is beautifully written, is an example of how I felt that the detail got in the way of the events - rather than stopping for a snack of chocolate cookies...

"In the kitchen he finds a packet of chocolate chip cookies. The cookies are soft and dusty. The chocolate has melted, seepred into the stratum and hardened. They eat the cookies in place of supper, washing the taste away with whisky".

Please don't be put off by my inability to cope with too much description!

Thanks to Alice from Bloomsbury for sending me this one.


  1. Hm, this sounds like my type of book! I quite like that cookie description. Great House has a similar literary, over-descriptive style and I loved it.

  2. Yes - I was about to say exactly the same as Claire - that passage could easily have been taken from Great House! I picked up a copy of this from the library yesterday. I hope I have better luck with it than you :-)

  3. I struggled with one of her books before. I don't cope with too much description either.

  4. Predictably, The London Train has my vote so far as the title I would most like to read.

    Chocolate chip cookies and whiskey...hmmmm.

  5. I hope that Great House isn't too much of a struggle - it's a shorter book with bigger writing anyway...

  6. Oh dear. I'm saving this one for a train ride this week, and I hope I get along with it better than you did!

  7. I agree that sometimes such detailed stories are difficult to read. Yet, I really would love to read Aminatta's novel. I came here by way of Iris.


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