Title: The Memory
Author: Judith Barrow
Genre: Family Life Fiction/ Family Saga
Publisher: Honno Press
Mother and daughter tied together by shame and secrecy, love and hate. I wait by the bed. I move into her line of vision and it’s as though we’re watching one another, my mother and me; two women – trapped. Today has been a long time coming. Irene sits at her mother's side waiting for the right moment, for the point at which she will know she is doing the right thing by Rose. Rose was Irene's little sister, an unwanted embarrassment to their mother Lilian but a treasure to Irene. Rose died thirty years ago, when she was eight, and nobody has talked about the circumstances of her death since. But Irene knows what she saw. Over the course of 24 hours their moving and tragic story is revealed – a story of love and duty, betrayal and loss – as Irene rediscovers the past and finds hope for the future. "...A book that is both powerful and moving, exquisitely penetrating. I am drawn in, empathising so intensely with Irene that I feel every twinge of her frustration, resentment, utter weariness and abiding love." Thorne Moore "Judith Barrow's greatest strength is her understanding of her characters and the times in which they live; The Memory is a poignant tale of love and hate in which you will feel every emotion experienced by Irene." Terry Tyler The new novel from the bestselling author of the Howarth family saga.
‘Just another phase she’s going through,’ the Irish doctor says, patting me on the shoulder as she leaves. ‘You’re doing a grand job.’ While all the time I know she’s wondering why - why I didn’t give up the first time she suggested that I should; why, by now, I’ve not admitted it’s all too much and ‘please, please take her away, just for a week, a day, a night. An hour.’
But I don’t. Because I have no choice. Mum told me years ago there was no way she’d put this house in my name so if ever I tried to put her in a care home it would be sold.
But there is another reason I can’t leave this house; a reason more important than anything. Rose, is here. It’s almost thirty-nine years since she left us. But I still sense her next to me, hear her voice sometimes, feel her trying to comfort me. So I won’t go anywhere; I won’t leave her on her own again. I did it once before–I won’t do it a second time. Not like that anyway.
‘I can’t go on, Mum,’ I repeat. My head swims with tiredness and I’m so cold inside.
She doesn’t answer. She doesn’t have to do most of the time; I’ve learned to interpret the noises; the tones of each wail, yell and cry. Even the sniffs. She was always good on the sniffs. She had a whole language of sniffs: contempt, short and sharp, lips pursed, utter displeasure, long drawn out, lip corners pulled in tight, anger, almost silent, nostrils flaring. And then there was her pleased sniff (not used very often) a long spluttering drawing in of breath accompanied by a rare smile.
She watches me. Or is that my imagination? Because as I move, her eyes don’t; unfocussed, they’re settled on the photograph of the three of us on the beach at Morecambe. I was six, in the picture I’m sitting on Dad’s lap. The time it was taken as distanced as the vague shoreline behind us. The grey sea as misty and as unattainable, as far away, as yesterday’s thoughts. At least to her.
Or is she seeing something else? A memory? That memory? I’m hoping that of all the recollections that linger, if any do linger in that blankness that has been her mind for so long, of all the memories, it’s that one. The one that has makes hate battle with pity and reluctant love. If nothing else I hope she remembers that.
I feel quite calm. I don’t speak; it’s all been said.
And now her eyes move from my face, past me. It’s as though she knows. I’m so close I see the crisscross of fine red lines across the whites, the tiny yellow blobs of sleep in the inner corners, the slight stutter of a nerve on the eyelid that moves the sparse lashes.
And then she speaks. ‘Rose?’ she says. Clearly. ‘Rose’. Just like that.
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Although I was born and brought up in a small village on the edge of the Pennine moors in Yorkshire, England. for the last forty years I’ve lived with my husband and family near the coast in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, UK, a gloriously beautiful place. I’ve written all my life and have had short stories, poems, plays, reviews and articles published throughout the British Isles. I had the first of my trilogy, Pattern of Shadows, published in 2010, the sequel, Changing Patterns, in 2013 and the last, Living in the Shadows in 2015. The prequel, A Hundred Tiny Threads was published in 2017. The Memory was published in March 2020. My next book, The Heart Stone is due to be published in February 2021. I have an MA in Creative Writing, B.A. (Hons.) in Literature, and a Diploma in Drama and Script Writing. I work as an interviewer of authors for an online TV company; Showboat tv. I am also a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council’s Lifelong Learning Programme and give talks and run private workshops on all genres.
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