Friday, September 18, 2015

Book Review: The Memory Weaver

The Memory Weaver. Jane Kirkpatrick. 2015. Revell. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick fictionalizes the life of Eliza Spalding Warren and her family. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it presupposes the reader's knowledge of the Spalding and Whitman families, and most crucially the Whitman Massacre of 1847 (also known as Walla Walla massacre). The way the story unfolds doesn't exactly clarify what happened in a timely way. One simply knows that the heroine--whom we meet as a teen--survived something horrible as a child, something that still haunts her day and night, something that left her broken inside. I will admit that the way the story unfolds probably helps build the novel's drama. But I was a little too confused for the first half of the novel to really find it satisfying.

The Memory Weaver essentially has two heroines. Eliza Spalding Warren (the daughter) and Eliza Spalding. Readers first meet Eliza Spalding Warren, the main character, as a teen. The novel chronicles her life from that point on, mainly focusing on her relationships with her father, her sisters, and her would-be husband, and later with her own children. Plenty of the novel is focused on her turbulent marriage. The second heroine is revealed solely through diary entries. For most of the novel, readers know more than the main character. It is only towards the very end of the book that Eliza Spalding Warren is given her mother's diaries to read. It is through these diary entries that glimpses of what happened start to come to light. If the book has a message, it is that there is always more than one way to "see" any given situation. And that memories can be distorted and miss out on important details. Eliza Spalding Warren rehearses the story of her life in her head, but, the way she remembers things doesn't exactly match well with how others remember it.

For those that enjoy historical fiction for the HISTORY, then this one may prove quite satisfying. For those that enjoy historical fiction mainly for strong romantic elements, then this one may prove quite unsatisfying. It is NOT a love story or romance. The focus is on the brokenness of the characters and the need for a Savior that delivers, redeems, and heals. None of the characters are necessarily "likable" and all are quite imperfect and flawed. That's almost the point. We're all broken; our lives are incredibly messy; none of us love others as we should; we are all impatient and frustrated; we all lose it sometimes; none of us extend mercy and forgiveness as we should. So the novel has strengths certainly. Readers can learn from what they read.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: