The Memorist is the second in a series of books about reincarnation, lost memory tools, and the struggle of Meer Logan to find herself through her past. Her father had struggled to help Meer recall her past-life memories to the surface, but she found her life bearable only when she avoided the triggers that called those memories to the surface. Readers also will find the historical bits about the Nazis and their experiments undertaken in Vienna disturbing.
M.J. Rose's narrative technique easily transports readers to Vienna, the home of Ludwig von Beethoven, and to Vienna in the past when Beethoven lived and taught in the city. She carefully weaves a suspenseful tale to find a lost memory tool once in the possession of Beethoven. Meer not only struggles with the surfacing memories, but with whom she should trust of her father's friends and how deeply she should not only confide in them but lean on them when the memories flood her mind.
"Margaux's lovely home was filled with cleaver and important people, fine food and charming music. It was all a patina. The threads that held the partygoers' polite masks in place were fragile. Everyone in Vienna had an agenda and a plan for how the reapportionment of Europe would work best for them now that Napoleon was in exile. . . . So even here tonight, at what purported to be a totally social gathering, nothing was as it seemed." (Page 226)
This paragraph illustrates the facades built up around her father, her long-time confidant Malachai, and her father's sorrowful, new friend Sebastian. The face they present to one another does not represent reality; her father hides many things from her, just as she prepares speeches she believes he wants to hear. While this story is a thriller reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code, it is much more. It illuminates the relationship between Meer and her father and the secrets that lie beneath.
"'Yes, behind the facades of these elegant buildings are ugly secrets and dirty shadows. . . .'" (Page 297)
Readers will enjoy the shifting perspectives from chapter to chapter and the subplot that lurks beneath the surface, which could change everything for the main characters and Vienna. Music, art, and mystery are the order of the day in The Memorist, and they are woven together beautifully.
"Lifting the plastic cover over the keys she put her fingers on the yellowed ivory and began. The piano had obviously been kept tuned and she was surprised at how differently this two-hundred-year-old instrument played from the ones she was used to. There was more power and feel to its sound, less control, less sustaining power and it seemed she could do more with its loudness and softness." (Page 252)
Meer underestimates her abilities, and readers will love the evolution of her character. The only drawback in the novel for readers may be the repetition of several descriptive lines as Meer enters her past memories--"a metallic taste fills her mouth." Aside from this minor annoyance, which quickly fades into the background after several chapters, this novel is action-packed, thrilling, and absorbing. M.J. Rose has done her research and created a believable world in which reincarnation is a viable theory that can be put into action through the recovery and use of various tools.
Check out The Memorist Reading Guide and an excerpt from the book.
Without further ado, here's my interview with M.J. Rose:
1. When writing The Memorist did you listen to music? If you had to chose five songs that coordinated with The Memorist what would they be and why?
All of Beethoven's symphonies because he is part of the book and the music of Doug Scofield because he wrote two songs for the book.
2. Do you have any obsessions that you would like to share?
I love visiting museums, reading, walking our dog in any and all parks, and the ocean.
3. Most writers will read inspirational/how-to manuals, take workshops, or belong to writing groups. Did you subscribe to any of these aids and if so which did you find most helpful? Please feel free to name any "writing" books you enjoyed most (i.e. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott).
Definitely not Bird by Bird. :) I might the only writer who couldn't even finish that book. Not knocking it - just not my cup of tea. What helps me is keeping a journal of my character's life, and reading and rereading great books that I've loved over the years, plus I read John Gardner's The Art of Fiction once a year.
This is one area M.J. Rose and I disagree. Check out my review of The Art of Fiction.
4. A great deal of writing advice suggests that amateur writers focus on what they know or read the genre you plan to write. Does this advice hold true for you? How so (i.e., what authors do you read)?
I think writers block comes from not knowing your character and writing too soon in the process. I don't think you should just sit down and write every day. I think you need to get inside your story and the people who inhabit its world however you need to do that - for me it requires swimming a lot and a lot of long walks where I focus on the characters for hours a time.
Foods, no. I drink green tea while I'm working but I don't nibble at the computer:) Just when I'm done.
6. Please describe your writing space and how it would differ from your ideal writing space.
I have trained myself to write anywhere so my writing space is my laptop wherever it needs to be. And as long as my dog is nearby, it's ideal.
About the Author (From her Website):
M.J. Rose, is the international bestselling author of 10 novels; Lip Service, In Fidelity, Flesh Tones, Sheet Music, Lying in Bed, The Halo Effect, The Delilah Complex, The Venus Fix, The Reincarnationist, and The Memorist.
She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She runs two popular blogs; Buzz, Balls & Hype and Backstory.