My Memories of a Future Life by Roz Morris
Last to read again, there are reasons I’ve reviewed this book when my only other review on this new blog of mine was for the same author. That is because I read Roz Morris’s Nail Your Novel http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nail-Your-Novel-Writers-Confidence/dp/146108136X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327336345&sr=1-1 and it enabled me to begin a second draft of my novel when I was about to give up and never bother writing again. So, if there is a slight bias, it is justified. I am paying my debt to the woman who passed her knowledge on to me. But no way would I have said what I said if it was a crap novel. Nor would I have bought it in paperback. So….
From the moment ‘Memories’ opens in a yoga studio, where candles ‘knew the truth’ and which were ‘shivering to an influence none of us could hear or feel’, I was drawn into Roz Morris’s narrative. What is it we can’t hear or feel, apart from subterranean trains? As surely as Carol, her heroine hypnotee, was drawn into her future life regressions (or were they progressions?), I found it difficult to stop reading. Dinners went uncooked, dog unwalked.
Carol Lear, a concert-level pianist with RSI in her hands, is at a painful crossroads in her life. She becomes reliant upon recorded hypnosis sessions – the tapes of which have chapters to themselves – with the cold, yet mesmerising, Gene Winter in which she becomes the spirit of the flawed future healer, Andreq. Gene, who stubs out cigarettes with his bare feet among other party-pieces, entices her to the village of Vellanoweth to house-and-cat-sit for a female colleague and to work in her place as the music shop’s singing teacher.
Working and living in Vellanoweth enables her to continue her progression sessions with the nocturnal Gene Winter, be perplexed by some of the locals, visit the country’s first nuclear power-station, and check out the weather-reliant local radio station. There appears to be a religious –v- spiritualist divide in the village, and in the nearby town of Ixendon. Quite who is friend or foe among this bunch of musicians, doctors, esoterics or the religious is a mystery, yet Carol is eventually accused of being ‘unfit to have custody of spirit’ at a time when she is questioning what is going to become of her own spirit, in the present day.
Characters drawn particularly well were Jerry, Eleanor Lear (hilarious keyboard-thumper, certain Carol is one of the family), and bow-tie’d Richard Longborrow. Carol grew on me eventually when I saw her doing the same kinds of things, and making the same kinds of mistakes, that any of us might. Gene and Willa, I’ll leave you to decide for yourself.
Having read, and been very well guided by, Roz Morris’s useful book for writers, Nail Your Novel, I admit I was curious to see how Roz practices her own system. With ‘Memories’ she demonstrates her own methods very well, keeping the narrative tight with almost every scene a chapter, which suited my narrow attention-span. The movement towards a satisfying conclusion for the reader was well-paced. Her use of original metaphor (‘the muted piano, like bells tolling underwater’) helped me in revising my own writing. I began to worry I don’t use metaphor nearly enough.
Once I’d put the book down, I had to let it clarify in my head for a week. My husband enjoyed a cooked dinner, the dog was walked, and order restored. The book had many themes for me: of truth and of what truth is; of the ‘talented soul’ and what lies behind that talent; of deceit and how we can deceive ourselves; of how the troubled can be unable to make the wisest life decisions; about freedom to choose; about personal restriction and about power. The power of the universe, the power we allow others to hold over us and the power that lies within us. And, of course, the possibility that, at some time in the future, we’ll be xeching away all over the place, under the sea.
Read it – it’s unusual, intriguing and ultimately satisfying, even with all those ‘Yes, but what…’ questions which arose as soon as I closed the book and sat there looking at the front cover. While my husband said ‘What’s for dinner?’ There are many questions in life that will go unanswered. I shall probably die puzzled…
Call me biased if you like: I don’t care. I loved this book!