Friday, May 19, 2023

Blog tour : The Memory of You by Samantha Tonge

Alex Butler is a very successful author. She has it all. A sleek modern apartment, a buzzing social media presence, and of course all the luxury items a woman could want. She has also the kind of attitude where you know that she has uttered the phrase "do you know who I am?" at least once in her life.

Except that it is all an illusion. Her career has taken a nose-dive after receiving a scathing review from an influential blogger, and there is no guarantee that she is going to receive a new contract. She is broke and the bank is chasing her for the arrears of her mortgage payment. She has a matter of weeks to get her agent the first part of her next book, and it has to be good.

She is also alone. When her marriage fell apart and then her mother died, Alex threw herself into her work, alienating her former colleagues and friends. 

And so it is that she finds herself alone in a bar in Manchester. What she doesn't know is why is alone in a bar and crying. Hope is also alone in that bar and crying. She is crippled with fear. She is supposed to be leaving on a dream trip around with the world with her daughter in just a few days. The idea of going to strange countries scares her completely.She hasn't told her boss that she is going and she knows that if she does go she will also lose her home as it comes with her job, but if she doesn't go then she will disappoint her daughter

Somewhat impulsively Alex and Hope agree that Alex will fill in for Hope working in a cafe. Hope tries to tell her what makes the cafe unique, but Alex being Alex she doesn't listen. And so it is that Alex finds herself at the Wrong Order Cafe.

The Wrong Order Cafe is a special place. It is owned by good hearted Tom - a man with a penchant for wearing odd socks. He owns a cranky, opinionated parrot by the name of Captain Beaky. The thing that really makes The Wrong Order Cafe special is the staff. Many of the employees have varying degrees of dementia. They are each still able to work but on occasion they may get the orders mixed up, hence the cafe name. Tom works hard to ensure that his team is allowed to feel safe in their workplace and that they feel valued and useful. He knows how hard dementia is for both the person with dementia and for their family. as his own father was diagnosed with the condition.

Alex realises very quickly that this is not the place for her. She has no patience and she doesn't have time. Her deadline is fast approaching. But she does feel a bit guilty that if she doesn't fulfil her part of the bargain that Hope will lose her home too. In due course, she begins to see beyond the superficial, to see the strengths of the other people at the cafe. Even the parrot. 

Whilst dealing with dementia is one of the major themes of the book, there is another, and that isthe dreaded M word for women my age - menopause. After realising that she has skipped her period for months, Alex is shocked to be told that she is peri-menopausal. This is not something that is talked about very often so it was interesting to read as Alex begins to relook at her life over the last few years to see how her changing body might have impacted on her life.

Alex was a difficult character to read about. She is very self contained and isolated from everyone. It is only as the book progresses that she begins to thaw. I am not sure that Alex is ever going to bel ight and fluffy but she does get better.

The strength of this book is in the issues it deals with. I loved the Wrong Place Cafe and the team that works there. They each are at different stages of their condition and each need different things to ground them in reality for as long as possible. They, and their families, know that it is only a matter of time before their condition worsens. There were lovely moments all through the book with each of the characters. Even the people in the cafe who are do not have dementia are given the space on the page for them to blossom.

And to read about two women discussing how menopause is affecting them? Unheard of. Or at least I can't remember reading one any time recently.

I had read one book from this author before, and I have another here waiting for me to read.  I am looking forward to seeing what issues the author is going to explore next.

Thanks to the publisher, Rachel's Random Resources and Netgalley for the review copy.


About the book

The Memory of You

A gorgeously uplifting story about memories, storytelling, love and friendship, about the journeys we take and the people we meet, what we remember and how there are some things we can never forget.

Alex would like to believe she’s a woman who has it all. Or that’s what she tells everyone, including herself. But this is far from true. Actually she’s on the cusp of losing her home, her dream career as a writer is in tatters, her ex won’t speak to her, and her mother’s gone forever.

But then a chance meeting with a stranger named Hope gives her the opportunity of a lifetime, when Hope jokes that perhaps Alex should take over her job in a cafe while she goes travelling.

Just at that moment, it sounds like the answer to all her problems. So Alex persuades Hope to let her step into her shoes for a month. She brushes away Hope’s attempts to explain about the café, instead demanding to know more about the owner Tom.

But she should have asked to know more. Because the ‘Wrong Order Café’ isn’t like anywhere she’s ever been before. And Alex’s life is about to change forever…

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About the Author

Samantha Tonge is the bestselling and award-winning author of over 15 romantic fiction titles published by HQ, and most recently Aria. Her first book for Boldwood, Under One Roof, was published in February 2022 and her move to Boldwood marks a broadening of her writing into multi-generational woman’s fiction. She lives in Manchester with her family.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting plot, I've not heard of this author so thanks for highlighting it.