The Memory of You by Catherine West (review)

thememoryofyou_cathywest_thomasnelsonCatherine West gets me.  She knows how to take a story that, if taken at a surface level is just another “poor little rich girl finds some gumption and romance,” and goes so much deeper and makes it so much more.  She gets me invested in characters and their circumstances and makes my heart ache for their brokenness.

She’d always been drawn to a challenge.  Always rooted for the underdog, perhaps because she identified with them.  Since this bout of depression started, she hadn’t felt like rooting for anything or anyone.  Hadn’t wanted to get involved in everyday living.  Deep down she was terrified of getting sucked under again.  But maybe…maybe this time would be different. (p.86)

Now, I thought I had my bearings with this story – faith issues, trust issues, grief, depression, complicated families – then chapter 13 started and threw me for a loop.  A new character is introduced in such an interesting and unexpected way, connecting to the main plot and previously introduced characters in a sub-plot that really left me wanting more.  I do love it when secondary characters pop up and say “you’d love me and my story, too!”

It finally came to me, a week after reading Catherine West’s new novel, that her heroine had something in common with two of my all time favorite fictional heroines.  Like Anne Elliot from Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Valancy Sterling of L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, Natalie Mitchell has decided to give herself a second chance.  She no longer allows herself to take a passive or care-taking role based on past choices and the presumptions and expectations of overbearing family members.

As I continued to consider this, it occurred to me that Tanner Collins is a bit like some Austen heroes in that he comes off as being a bit of a jerk for quite a bit of the story.  But he slowly becomes more sympathetic, and the scene where he sees his office after Natalie gets through with it?  It had me both smiling and snickering.

His dark hair fell forward, his mouth slightly open in slumber.  Natalie fought the urge to walk over there and brush his hair back.  Considering what a jerk he’d been all night, she’d be more tempted to pull it, so she studied her sneakers instead. (p.221)

The Memory of You is about secrets, second chances, and forgiveness.  If you enjoy a well told tale that touches your heart, a bit of mystery and a sweet romance, or just really like stories of messy families set in California wine country, then this is an excellent choice.  Highly recommended and I will anxiously wait for more from this author.

From the publisher:

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

And Natalie never says no to her father.

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

The Memory of You by Catherine West | Thomas Nelson,  March 2017 | paperback and ebook, 320 pages

I voluntarily received a copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, in exchange for an honest review.  A review ebook was received through NetGalley.  All opinions expressed are my own.