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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George

Paperback front cover
Read this one in August although published in 2001 it had been languishing on my stack of to be read books.  A good mystery but 662 pages, a tome as George often produces.  In this one a 28 year old violinist protege, extraordinaire, Gideon Davies, suddenly loses his memory of music and  all ability to play the violin which he had mastered at 5 years of age.  He suffers from a traumatic form of amnesia  shich can only be cured by investigating what he can remember.  With the guidance of a doctor Gideon journals what he can remember and flashes back  to the name of a woman, Sonia.  His father has poured his life into promoting Gideon.  The dysfunctional family goes over 3 generation and includes the death of Gideon's baby sister long ago.   Meantime there are other characters weaving in and out and  the mysterious killings of seemingly unrelated people,  run over by autos.

 The author weaves a readable saga,  with multitudes of characters and stories related to each.  Seemingly separate but all will be interlinked. For example,  on pg. 485, the reappearance of a character Katie leads Gideon to a conversation about Katja.  Katie  had not been mentioned nor  featured since the first chapter at the beginning of the book.   In the midst of the book pages 369-370 I noted that I disliked the switching back and forth between characters and stories.  Malcolm Webberly has just been run down walking his dog Alf and then the tale switches back to Gideon.  Still it is well written and there are many passages worth noting.  

Pg 132, about failure, "  "Sometimes you fail.  You don't intend to.  You don't even contemplate failure.  But it happens.  It comes out of nowhere and it takes you by surprise and before you have a chance to stop even to react in some useless way, it's on you.  Failure."    

Pg 161,  "life wasn't a continuum of events, although it wore the guise of exactly that.  Instead, it was actually a carousel.  In infancy one mounted a galloping pony and started out on a journey during which one assumed that circumstances would change as the expedition continued.  But the  truth of life was that it was an endless repetition of what one had already experienced...round and round and up and down on that pony.  And unless one dealt with whatever challenges one was meant to deal with along the route, those challenges appeared again and again in one form or another till the end of one's days."   

Page 571, "left with her thoughts, those mischievous companions of one's solitude."  

Overall I enjoyed the tome, but at times I felt it could have speeded along.  Masterful writing none the less.  I give this 4 ****

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