Monday, 20 April 2020

The Memories We Bury by H A Leuschel

The Memories We Bury by H.A. Leuschel
Published by EKT Selection Ltd on the 17th April 2020.

Included in my Vegan Bookshop

An emotionally charged and captivating novel about the complexities of female friendship and motherhood, from the author of Manipulated Lives.

Lizzie Thomson has landed her first job as a music teacher and, after a whirlwind romance with Markus, the newlywed couple move into a beautiful new home in the outskirts of Edinburgh. Lizzie quickly befriends their neighbour Morag, an elderly, resourceful yet lonely widow, whose own children rarely visit her. Everything seems perfect in Lizzie’s life until she finds out she is pregnant and her relationships with both Morag and Markus change beyond her control. 

Can Lizzie really trust Morag and why is Markus keeping secrets from her? 

In The Memories We Bury the author explores the dangerous bonds we can create with strangers and how past memories can cast long shadows over the present.

The Memories We Bury is the third of H A Leuschel's books that I have read and the first full length novel after her novella, My Sweet Friend, and the short story collection, Manipulated Lives. The Memories We Bury is a pretty intense psychological thriller written from the dual perspectives of new mother, Lizzie, and her elderly neighbour, Morag. I hadn't realised that a baby would play such a prominent role in the story so, at the beginning, I was concerned that the narrative might stray too far into cutesy territory for my tastes, but happily that wasn't the case! Instead I was treated to what almost becomes a tactical duel between Lizzie and Morag, each of whom are convinced of their own truths, and we readers must decide for ourselves with which woman to side. It's a great 'unreliable narrator' setup which reminded me of Jane Cable's The Faerie Tree (which I read last month). If you loved that novel, you may well also enjoy this one!

I liked the unnerving atmosphere that builds gradually through each scene in The Memories We Bury. The tension kept me turning the pages, eager to find out how Lizzie and Morag could possibly extricate themselves from this web and whether Markus and baby Jamie would also last the course. The contrast achieved by having these extreme characters in such everyday settings as a garden centre cafe is nicely done and I appreciated seeing how Lizzie and Morag differed in their interactions with other friends. This often added to my feelings of foreboding as I picked up on subtle - and less subtle - warnings.

Leuschel excels in creating psychologically damaged and manipulative characters who are fully rounded people and utterly believable. There's no cartoonish villainy here, quite the opposite in fact because I came to clearly understand why each woman behaved as she did and the historical motivations that drove both their behaviours. I frequently found my sympathies swinging from one to the other as I learned more about them. Leuschel really does have a wonderful understanding of human nature!

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