The Last Tuesday Book Club: Stolen Memories

Welcome to the second edition of the Last Tuesday Book Club. Last month we read The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro and there were some interesting points made during the discussion. My plan is to read a book every month and to discuss it on the last Tuesday blog post of the month. I hope more people join us in the coming months!

This month’s selection for our Last Tuesday Book Club was Stolen Memories by Mary Miley. Mary is also the author of the Roaring Twenties mysteries, as well as a large number of non-fiction books. Stolen Memories is a work of Gothic fiction and I found it to be an exciting page-turner. Here’s a synopsis:

It’s 1928. A young English woman in Paris is attacked and thrown into the Seine, where she is left for dead. Thanks to the quick thinking of two sailors nearby, she is rescued and taken to a hospital. When she awakens, she is alarmed to discover that she has lost her memory. She doesn’t remember marrying the man standing over her with angry, flashing eyes, and she doesn’t remember why she was in Paris. The man is demanding that she reveal to him where she has hidden a number of paintings, and she has no idea what he’s talking about. As the woman slowly regains some of her disjointed memories, she is disturbed to find that she still doesn’t remember anything about her marriage, her home, the paintings, or her family.

I loved the book. Gothic fiction is my favorite genre to read and this did not disappoint. There is a French chateau, a woman who has lost her memory, a mysterious man of wealth and a dubious past, missing artwork, and an attempted murder. It has all the ingredients of a dark mystery.

There are a number of discussion questions at the end of the book, and I have opted to choose a few of them and supplement them with my own questions. Please feel free to join the discussion in the comments below and ask any questions you  may have.

  • When does Eva/Claire begin to question her identity? Why does she initially explain away her doubts?
  • Dr. Thomas J. Barnardo was a real person who died in the 1950s. Was he correct, that heredity counted for very little and environment was everything? Would Eva have become Claire and Claire, Eva, if they had been adopted by the other’s parents?
  • Clearly, both heredity and environment (nature and nurture) play a role in every person’s development, but how would you rank the importance of each?
  • Did you recognize any of the other characters in the book, besides Dr. Barnardo, as being “real people?”
  • Why do you suppose Alex wanted the paintings back? Was it pride, financial need/want, determination, or something else? Was it a combination of things?
  • What did you think about Lianne’s role in bringing Eva/Claire to Luca? Do you think it was romantic imagination on Lianne’s part, or did she suspect that Luca meant Eva/Claire harm?
  • How do you feel about Alex’s sister Danielle? Do you like her? Dislike her? What do you think about her motives in visiting the chateau?
  • Why do you suppose Madame Denon and Cousin Pauline were in the book?

I reviewed Stolen Memories, giving it 5 stars. I hope you enjoyed reading and discussing the book. If you have any suggestions for a June book club selection, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. In the meantime, the selection for May is What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman. I’ve read The Plum Tree by Ms. Wiseman and she is an incredibly skilled writer.

Until next time,

Amy

6 comments on “The Last Tuesday Book Club: Stolen Memories

  1. macjam47 says:

    I didn’t read this, but I am going to have to add it to my TBR.

    Like

  2. Maude says:

    Given the descriptions of what you enjoy, you might like (if you haven’t already) the series of Phryne Fisher Mysteries – they take place in the 20’s and are splashed with a great touch of humor! Also if you like the series, there are around 16 of them.

    Like

  3. 1.When does Eva/Claire begin to question her identity? Why does she initially explain away her doubts?
    This is a tough question…. She knows from the start that she isn’t Eve based on her slight memories of Claire and her dreams, However, there are people all around her telling her that she is. This leaves her with lots of doubts about who she really is. She really begins to believe she isn’t Eve when she dresses in her clothes/shoes and they don’t fit properly.

    2.Dr. Thomas J. Barnardo was a real person who died in the 1950s. Was he correct, that heredity counted for very little and the environment was everything? Would Eva have become Claire and Claire, Eva, if they had been adopted by the other’s parents? Controversial question for sure. I can’t say that they are equal by any means, but heredity does play a part. I raised 2 of my sons with very little interaction with their father…. Yet, I see him in both of them. Of course, I believe that environment plays a bigger part…. Someone being raised in a negative environment would more likely become negative versus someone being raised in a positive environment. And then there is the intelligence level to consider as well. It is more likely to come from inheritance than an environment, meaning IQ versus book learning.

    3.Clearly, both heredity and environment (nature and nurture) play a role in every person’s development, but how would you rank the importance of each? Food for thought… I really don’t know. But for discussion purposes, I would say 65% environment and 35% heredity.

    4.Did you recognize any of the other characters in the book, besides Dr. Barnardo, as being “real people?”Not that I know of. Unless you are talking about the actress, I didn’t recognize anyone. Please do tell!

    5.Why do you suppose Alex wanted the paintings back? Was it pride, financial need/want, determination, or something else? Was it a combination of things? Definitely wasn’t financial; I think it was more of a pride situation. Women being the weaker sex put one over on him. That was just unacceptable.

    6.What did you think about Lianne’s role in bringing Eva/Claire to Luca? Do you think it was romantic imagination on Lianne’s part, or did she suspect that Luca meant Eva/Claire harm? Lianne seemed to like Eve/Claire, Although she was very jealous of her. She wanted her father’s attention. I think she felt she could get rid of her by sending her off with Luca. I personally don’t think it was malicious.

    7.How do you feel about Alex’s sister Danielle? Do you like her? Dislike her? What do you think about her motives in visiting the chateau? Danielle was my least favorite character. I think she was selfish and just plain nosey. She wanted to meet the woman who put one over on her brother.

    8.Why do you suppose Madame Denon and Cousin Pauline were in the book? Good question, they didn’t play much of a role, did they? While they didn’t add a lot, for me they gave me a good sense of the era. A time where meals and or tea time was a certain time of day, etc…

    I too enjoyed this book. Mary Miley has a style that keeps her readers turning pages. I also reviewed it and gave it 5 stars. I read Ms. Miley’s “The Impersonator” and loved it as well. I highly recommend Mary Miley’s books!

    Like

    • amreade says:

      You make some points I hadn’t thought of. For one thing, I was unsure of the presence of Madame Denon and Cousin Pauline. Madame Denon seemed to exert some kind of influence over Alex’s actions, but I’m not sure her gentle suggestions were things he wouldn’t eventually have done on his own, such as contacting Mr. Marsh to see about Claire’s adoptive family. I think you have hit on something with your answer–both Madame Denon and Cousin Pauline were largely silent characters, but they told the reader a lot about old, aristocratic families and the customs of wealthy people at the time of the book’s setting.

      As for Claire’s identity, I think she began to question it from the very beginning, but then she began to question herself. You could see her confidence in her own thoughts slipping the more she talked to Alex. Everything he said seemed perfectly reasonable, but I think there was a kernel of doubt there from the moment she awoke in the hospital.

      As for nature vs. nurture, I think that’s a hard question. I think both Eva and Claire would have turned out differently if they each been adopted by the other’s family, but I don’t think their personalities would have been completely different. I think Eve probably would have had a mean streak and that Claire would have been the more gentle one with the malleable opinions of herself and others.

      I suspect some of the suffragettes in the book really existed, but I don’t know a lot about the suffragette movement. I would like to learn more about them. There have been a couple movies recently, but I haven’t seen them. Maybe I should borrow them from the library if they’re out on dvd.

      I think Alex was after those paintings for two reasons: first, it really stuck in his craw that a woman had managed to get them away from him. Second, I think getting them back became second nature to him. I don’t think he ever gave any thought to letting the whole thing go, at least until Claire came along and showed him how silly the whole thing was.

      Danielle? I couldn’t stand her. At first I thought she was going to be a moderating influence on her brother, but she turned out to be nothing more than a malicious social-climber who, as you said, wants to meet the woman who allegedly bested her brother. There’s not much love between her and the rest of the family. I’m not sure how she felt about Jean-Claude, but I think he was in for a big let-down if that relationship went any further.

      And as for Lianne, I can’t decide if she was acting maliciously when she brought Claire to Luca in the old house. She was definitely jealous of Claire. I agree with you that she saw an opportunity to get rid of the other person vying for her father’s attentions and she took it. I just can’t decide if she did it with complete innocence or because she had a bit of a mean streak.

      I’m really glad you found time to read the book and that you’re adding your voice to the comments! I can always count on you to participate and I love it. I hope we get more people next month! Have a great day!!

      Liked by 1 person

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