When a mysterious countess arrives late in life to live in a large, deserted house on the edge of a sleepy Hampshire village, the local tongues start wagging. No one is more intrigued than Cecily Chadwick, idling away the long, hot summer of 1911 with nothing much to do. Cecily is fascinated by the exotic elderly lady, and as she gets to know her, is riveted by her tales of expatriate life on the continent.The Last Summer was one of the best books that I read last year so I had very high hopes for The Memory of Lost Senses. Judith Kinghorn has delivered another intricate tale with believable characters and secrets all the way.
But the countess is troubled: by her memories, her name, and by anonymous threats to reveal a ruinous secret... it is, she has decided, up to her close friend, a successful novelist who has come to stay for the summer, to put the record straight.
For aspiring writer Cecily, the novelist's presence only adds to the intrigue and pull of the house. But it is the countess's grandson, Jack, his unanswered questions about his grandmother's past and his desire to know the truth, that draw Cecily further into the tangled web of the countess's life, and the place known as Temple Hill.
It took me a little longer to get into The Memory of Lost Senses but once I had a good idea of the characters and their pasts, I was hooked.
Cora is the mysterious countess who has returned to England to watch over her grandson Jack who is about to start university. She is an extremely private woman and we are left wondering why she has returned, why she's stayed away for so long, why so many husbands and where was her childhood spent?
These questions and many others are answered as we flit between the past and the present. Sylvia is Cora's novelist friend who is there to supposedly write Cora's memoirs. Yet how can she when Cora is keeping secrets and Sylvia has her own memories of the past which differ to that of her friend. Cecily lives in the village and is intrigued by Cora and in love with her grandson. Can Cecily finally uncover the truth or will Cora's memories always remain private?
Judith Kinghorn closely looks at love in this book; love in a relationship, love between friends, what we do to protect those we love but also the ways in which we choose to hurt them.
I felt that Cora and Sylvia were quite tragic figures; Sylvia has been living vicariously through Cora and so has not actually created her own life and Cora has spent so much time keeping secrets that she hasn't had time to enjoy what really matters.
The Memory of Lost Senses will appeal to fans of historical fictio
n; the story is extremely absorbing and will keep you guessing all the way.
Dot Scribbles Rating: 4.75/5
Publisher: Headline Review
Many thanks to Headline for sending me a copy of the book to review, it is out now!