Book review: The Memory Shop by Ella Griffin
Sometimes memories '“ and not dreams '“ provide hope for the future.
Ella Griffin, an award-winning advertising copywriter before turning her talents to fiction writing, heads to her home town of Dublin for a beautiful, thoughtful and clever novel about a young woman looking to her grandmother’s past to make sense of her own troubled life.
Set in a warm and vibrant Irish community, this endearing and uplifting story is full of Griffin’s perceptive reflections on the importance of family and friends, and the close relationships that form the bedrock of everyday life and love.
Featuring a cast of lovable and believable characters, and the familiar slings and arrows that can make finding true happiness seem such a lottery, The Memory Shop explores the rewards of seeking out memories from the past, and the joys of forging your own.
Successful set designer Nora Malone is leaving her London home for a week for the reading of her recently deceased grandmother Lainey’s will in Dublin but on the day of her departure she uncovers a terrible betrayal.
Reeling from the shock, she moves into her grandmother’s house of memories – which was once also Nora’s childhood home – after learning that she has inherited all of Lainey’s wonderful belongings.
Nora’s grandfather Hugh had travelled the world with his work and brought home a wealth of gifts for his beloved wife… gorgeous antiques, vintage china, a feather shrug, a Tiffany mirror, a gold locket, a moonstone necklace and many other precious items.
With no home of her own now in London and unable to keep all these amazing mementoes, Nora decides to stay on in Dublin for the next six months and to turn the empty ground-floor premises into a pop-up shop to find the perfect owner for each of her grandmother’s possessions that she cannot keep herself.
Soon, The Memory Shop and its contents start to transform the lives of the people who visit as Nora pairs treasures with one person at a time, helping them to find happiness in the most surprising and unexpected ways.
As Nora lets go of 60 years of her grandmother’s memories, she unlocks tantalising clues to the old lady’s mysterious past. And if Nora can let go of her own past, she might just find the key to her future…
Griffin pours heart and soul into this superbly interwoven tale of love, betrayal, secrets and new beginnings as Nora’s inspirational Memory Shop becomes a catalyst for opening a window into the hidden past, healing old family wounds, and mending the broken lives of the people around her.
Each chapter is perfectly crafted by featuring an item from the shop with its own rich history, and then allowing the individual stories of the new owners to unfold… some heartbreaking, some heartwarming, some romantic and some intensely painful .
Difficult themes are tackled with insight and honesty, and Nora’s experiences are a timeless reflection on the precious moments we spend with family, the redeeming power of forgiveness, and the eternal optimism that helps keep us looking to the future and to appreciate the things that really matter.
(Orion, paperback, £7.99)