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Friday, June 15, 2012

Wednesday, 7th June 2012 - The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna chosen by Je

  • Set in Freetown, Sierra Leone, moving back and forth between 1969 and 2001
  • Complicated plot, interesting and engaging
  • Fascinating characters
  • Tale of friendship, betrayal, obsession, compassion, hope
  • and portrayal of human resilience
  • Deeply moving
  • Well researched aspects of Surgery and Psychology
  • Interesting Historically
  • Shortlisted for the Warwick Prize for Writing (2010)
  • Shortlisted for the Orange Prize (2011)
  • Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book  (2011)
  • Shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2012)

Aminatta Forna

Interactive map of Sierra Leone (Lonely Planet)

Discussion Questions

There were six at our meeting this month.  Almost all who were there, enjoyed the book.  Some felt that it took a while to get into the story and one needed to persist initially, before the plot took hold. It was an interesting read.  The characters were intriguing and we all agreed that we disliked most of the main characters except perhaps for Kai.  It was also noted that though Saffia was present as a character, we never actually got her point of view in the book.  One of us mentioned that the plot had too many twists and turns, and sometimes it was hard to keep track of what was going on.  For others, the twists and turns were interesting and kept them reading until the clearer picture emerged. Historically, the book was fascinating and horrifying for we knew so little of Sierra Leone. The death of the author's father left us shocked as we learned about her background and inspiration for her writing.  There was also snippets of other interesting information in this book, for example, the mention of a postcard of Niagra falls freezing over which we checked on and then found an  Urban Legend Link  with a few pictures of the event -
(Adding one below but check the link for more.)

1911 - Niagra Falls Freezes - see link above for more

A 1906 postcard - there are a few more out there if you search images

One of us, in search of the island that Adrian and Mamakay explored, looked up Bunce Island, in Sierra Leone, an island so much like the one described in the book. We found information on a historical fortress, the slave trade and also the presence of graves there.

medinger blog on Bunce Island (has additional links)

Blog post on Bunce island (has pictures)

Freetown on Wiki  (has picture of the famous cotton tree)

There are many beautiful lines throughout this book.  Here is one from Elias Cole, at the beginning of the book that stood out, as he introduced his story to us:

 "I saw a woman once, the loss of whom I mourned, even before I had spoken a single word to her."

This is not a quick read and best taken slowly or the beauty of some of the passages will be missed.

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