Annabelle yearns for nothing more than motherhood. Losing her own mother in child birth at the tender age of four; a gaping hole has grown in the pit of her belly with the desire to nurture a child. Her sole purpose, she values its significance and her duty to provide an heir to devoted husband Richard Hardwick, successor to a wealthy landowning family. But motherhood may not be as she once hoped, as fate deals her a cruel hand, leaving her with a life-changing dilemma.
Her younger sister Emily, vibrant and full of zest is engaged to the dashing Lance Corporal James Wright, jubilant with thoughts of the future she imagines nothing but wedded bliss on the horizon. But as a new century dawns, darkness falls, as the Boer War gains strength James is deployed to South Africa, leaving his new bride alone with an uncertain future. As melancholy festers, Emily escapes the rural confines of Bury St Edmunds to stay with Aunt Anna by the sea, where she languishes in nature’s rough vast beauty. As the distance stretches between the sisters, so too does the life-thread of family.
April has spent her solitary childhood in the pretty Norfolk village of Winterton-on-Sea, surrounded by its quiet lanes and circular pastel holiday cottages; a child flourishing in its rural beauty and thriving off the natural elements of sandy dunes and buffering waves. But now, after leaving University and as her 21st birthday approaches, April finds herself relocating closer to her Grandmother Sarah, to her mother’s childhood home of Bury St Edmunds; a market town in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Her parents open their longed-for antique shop, and although April is eager to assist with the busy Christmas rush, she aches for something else; a missing puzzle-piece. She looks to Sarah for guidance and direction, struggling to adjust, in her heart, pining for her sea-side home; she takes solace in the extraordinary bond she shares with her grandmother.
April’s feelings of uncertainty amplify as she steps over the threshold of her ancestral home; an early Victorian townhouse at the heart of the historic town, where time has stopped in its tracks, pristine and perfectly antiquated. In a visit to the attic late one afternoon, she discovers more than just dusty tea chests and old suitcases. She encounters an ancestor that has remained, a beautiful ghostly apparition whispering secrets in the shadows.
As the weeks follow and Christmas arrives, April is confronted with strange visions and dreams; memories of a lost, long buried time, of grave secrets, of sisterly love, romance and family loyalties that stretch beyond even love’s limits. April is thrown into turmoil, living moments in two eras, experiencing love and loss in both. With the help of Annabelle’s diary, she begins to unravel the mysteries of her ancestor’s history as her own destiny falls into place. Piecing together snippets of another life, giving peace back to the house and laying ghosts to rest; she unfolds the mystery of her family’s Supernatural Legacy.”
What I thought:
Twice now has Wright introduced me to a genre I’m unfamiliar with, and twice now has she won me over! Remember to Love Me is so different to my first read by her – The Manningtree Account – but I think ‘enchanting’ describes this one pretty well!
There’s a strong theme of family in this story, and it was one of my personal highlights. Not gonna lie, I’m a little jealous! The family in this – across both time periods – is incredibly close and the love remains strong throughout, even when tragedy hits again and again. It will make you ache for your own siblings and grandparents in a way I’ve experienced with no other book.
Loss is another strong theme, and informs especially Annabelle’s story. April comes to terms with her grandmother’s mortality, while Annabelle’s chapters cover more difficult variations. I don’t want to say to much, but this family has suffered a lot, and once again it was heart-warming to see how it brought them closer together and how they coped despite the pain.
“People never really leave us, Darling. Your Nan is going to go, she is ill and well… she is old, and there is nothing we can do to change it, but she will always be with you. When you need her, she will be there, just as she is now.”
The plot develops at its own pace without taking too long. New developments happen just as we got used to the last ones. Because the plot doesn’t rush but develops as it needs to it’s a relaxed read.
My favourite part in the entire book was a conversation between Annabelle and her aunt, Anna, near the middle. It was incredibly touching and for me it was the best-written part.
“I knew every time I kissed him that he would never belong to me, but it didn’t stop me. Belle, our heart doesn’t choose with any rational thought, any more than love asks permission. I loved him and that was that.”
I read this book in April but it could easily be your next Christmas read. Christmas plays such a big part in this story and is the favourite holiday of several characters. I would happily have read this by the window while it’s snowing outside, a hot chocolate in my hands and a blanket around me.
I’m curious about the sequel because to me it read like the story had concluded. It ended in a lovely place, and I’m intrigued to see where Wright will take it from there.
Have you read Remember to Love Me? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!
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