BOOK CLUB: The Memories That Make Us

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Author: Vanessa Carnevale
ISBN: 9781489246769
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

The Memories That Make Us is the second novel by Australian author Vanessa Carnevale. 2017 saw her debut release, The Florentine Bridge, garner exuberant praise, yet I never quite got that far. If my enjoyment of her second novel is anything to go by I think I should add her debut to my wishlist.

I have to admit, I was a little sceptical going in. I received an ARC so my copy doesn’t have a synopsis on the back cover and I don’t really remember it from any time I had read it previously. We start with a car accident and total retrograde amnesia, and I started to feel quite a sense of deja vu. There are elements of this story that aren’t unique, we have the car accident that leaves a deeply in love young woman completely unable to remember the love of her life with no guarantees of whether her memory will ever return. But for the most part that’s where the similarities end. There are some other minor parallels but I think Carnevale took this story in a unique direction.

This book dragged me in and held me captive, I wiled away my day with it; around the kids and a cranky baby, and stayed up way too late to see it through to the end. I was left wondering and trying to put the pieces together because there are mysteries woven within these pages that it sometimes felt were never going to be resolved.

Gracie Ashcroft is left with retrograde amnesia after a car accident that she can’t remember, her fiancé suffered minor cuts and bruises …. and a broken heart. Gracie can’t bring herself to see him, it’s all too much for her to have to face a life she doesn’t remember. She cuts herself off from the world and cocoons herself in the apartment as she slowly tries to relearn the basic life skills she has lost.

Gracie refused to let her best friend Scarlett tell her anything about her life and on returning to her apartment she lay all of the photos on their faces. I could actually completely understand where she was coming from, her thinking being that she didn’t want to hear other people’s interpretations of her memories, she wanted to remember. If she relied on those around her to tell her about her life how could she totally trust their retellings, they couldn’t know what she was feeling and she wouldn’t know any different. I thought this was a valid argument, how often do we discover that a situation wasn’t what we thought because we only saw one part of it.

A well-timed phone call from the estate agent looking after the flower farm she inherited from her mum sees her decide to take some time out on the farm to try and rediscover herself. The farm helps her reconnect with some of her memories, though only snippets, but more importantly it allows her the opportunity to reconnect with herself, to unearth a connection with the flowers and find her purpose.

Gracie receives sporadic letters from her fiancé Blake, letters that place no pressure but allow a glimpse into the life they had without going into details; letters that Gracie isn’t sure how to answer.

In the midst of an already ultra complicated situation comes a chance meeting with the vet next door, who happens to be extremely helpful. Gracie is torn between the connection she feels with Flynn and guilt that she shouldn’t be spending time with anyone until she has sorted things out with Blake. This is a really tricky situation and though I could understand the way things were panning out I couldn’t agree that it was ok, and Gracie felt it too.

Flowers played a huge part in this narrative and it was actually quite interesting to read how Gracie, who has no memories, can name flowers and feels such an affinity for them.

I loved this book and I was drawn into the story, the characters and most definitely the flower farm. There is so much to say, but there’s also so much spoiler risk that I’m a little hesitant to say too much.

Gracie was a sympathetic lead, I can’t imagine having to start life over in my mid-20s with no memories. But it does ask a very important question… would you want to continue in a life you don’t remember, relying only on the memories of those around you or would you want to start fresh and find a new life on your own terms? What does that mean for those you leave behind?

I am actually not going to say anything else about this one, there’s a lot in my head knocking to get out but I actually think it’s best left unsaid. I would definitely recommend this story and my last word on it is that if you want an insight into all the other things I want to say about Carnevale’s characters but don’t think I should then go get yourself a copy. You will understand once you have read it for yourself I think. A great sophomore novel and well worth the read. I would actually like to go back and read it again to see what else I could pick up on the second time round.

The Memories That Make Us is book #12 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Vanessa Carnevale can be found on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

The Memories That Make Us is published by Harlequin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace club members are reading The Memories That Make Us so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.



19 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Memories That Make Us

  1. ok, this book was a little bit predictable. I liked the authors choice of contents and the meaningful sayings. I felt the book was a little bit too long. I give this book 3 stars. Thanks, beauty and lace bookclub.

  2. Thankyou Beauty and Lace and Harlequinbooks.for the opportunity to read “The Memories that Make Us”. I throughly enjoyed this book by Vanessa Carnevale, More than just a nice love story there was an underlining story just lying there which I couldn’t quite grasp. I loved Grace and was sympathetic to the confusion she must have felt after her car accident left her with acute amnesia, not being able to remember her fiancé Blake or her best friend Scarlet,nor any of the earlier parts of her life. Although I felt I had read similar storylines this book swayed away from the past as Gracie tried to make new memories in a flower farm her mother had left Gracie when she passed.. The support characters in this story were endearing and Flynn the friend she met at the farm,,well he was just adorable !
    The flower description and fragrance were almost so real the reader could see and smell them. The ending….well I didn’t see that coming.
    Will be looking for Vanessa Carnevale’s first novel The Florentine Bridge.
    An excellent read I would definitely recommend it.

  3. This book seems to be split into two parts for me and I’m struggling to work out why. The first 200 plus pages were just brilliant and I absolutely loved it but then it seemed to drift and I was less than enthralled with the way it was rounded off – almost like the author wasn’t sure how long the ending should be. I was so engrossed in the beginning and then thrown by what eventuated that this probably clouded my judgement.
    There is much that is wonderful in “The Memories That Make Us.” The incredible detail about the flowers, the flower farming and selling and the way flowers affect individuals was beautiful, meaningful and informative. I loved the way Gracie dealt with her amnesia and could understand how difficult it must have been for her and those she loved, especially her fiancé. I have no knowledge of the medical side of something like memory loss after trauma and found it fascinating the way Gracie remembered some things in fine detail – flowers and their meanings but had no memory whatever of her relationships, including those of her fiancé and best friend.
    It is impossible to give any synopsis of the story without revealing and consequently spoiling completely, the way the story unfolds. I loved the relationship Gracie had with Flynn so I was completely unprepared for the way the story evolved, which I’m sure coloured my judgement overall.
    Thank you so much for the opportunity to “discover” another Australian author, Beauty and Lace. Thank you Harlequin for this opportunity too. A sequel would close things for me in the way I felt the book didn’t quite do.

  4. I agree with the review above… was engrossed in the first 200 pages and then it sort of drags on…. The characters are believable and relatable. You do get sucked into the characters in the first few chapters.

    I also agree that it was very predictable. All in all it was an easy read and kept me engaged to find out the end (although I did skim through them really quickly), Thank you beauty and lace for another opportunity to review books. If it wasn’t for the motivation to leave a review I tend to get very lazy and sometimes take months to finish a book.

  5. Thank you Beauty and Lace for selecting me to read The Memories That Make Us written by Vanessa Carnevale
    This is a beautiful book which I throughly enjoyed reading
    Gracie is involved in a accidents and has amnesia, she can’t remember anyone or anything, not even Blake the man she was supposed to marry, or her best friend
    Gracie is so confused she decides to move back to her mother’s flower farm,
    At the farm she meets some wonderful characters especially her neighbour Flynn ( no spoilers )
    Gracie is so torn with her memory loss and the unruly state of the farm but she decides she wants to be a flower grower just liked her mum was,
    I don’t want to spoil the ending for other readers,
    All I will say is the ending was a surprise to me

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It has a lovely twist, which I had guessed earlier but none the less still had me intrigued to see how it all unfolded. Ending was a little lacklustre, but in all I’d definitely recommend if you are after an easy & pleasant read.

  7. Thank you Beauty and Lace for giving me a chance to read ” The Memories that make us”.

    This book started off as a page turner and I couldn’t put it down. It is about a woman called Gracie who is in hospital after an accident and has lost her memory. What would I do if I had no memory?

    The author does a great job in the first part of the book, showing me how and what Gracie has to do when she leaves hospital, to try and bring some semblance into her life. It shows she is a strong character, with courage as when she receives a phone call it sends her life into a whirlwind and changes the direction her life will take. I loved learning about the characters that were in her past and what impact they had on her future. The middle section of the book gets a bit bogged down with too much description and detail. It felt that the author was trying to pad the book out somewhat and I have no idea why as the beginning was so intriguing. Saying that I did keep on reading as I needed to know what happened.
    The last chapters in the book really were riveting and got my interest again. There were some twist and turns that I wasn’t expecting and I could not put it down. I loved the way this book was turned on its headd. One thing I got from this book if you have no memory of your past, you can make new ones in the future and it changes your thinking, that if you have to start you life over and you have lost so much, it makes you realise what is precious and what really doesn’t matter. Even though the middle of the book was a bit longwinded I enjoyed this book. I would rate it 3.5 stars.

  8. The Memories that Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale is an incredible book with
    storytelling so vivid you can picture yourself with every move of this real
    emotional journey.

    This is the Story of Gracie Ashcroft who is about to marry Blake Beaumont
    when they have a car accident which leaves Gracie with no memory of her
    life before or the people in it, including her fiancé Blake and her best friend Scarlett.

    Does she want a life made up of other people’s memories of who she is or start a new life on her own? Determined to work this out for herself she decides to leave Melbourne and escape to Summerhill the farm she had grown up on where she hopes her memories would return.

    She slowly makes friends and has a desire to recreate the magic of the flower farm her Mother loved.

    She is helped by kind neighbours, Tilly an old friend of her Mother, Charlie and Flynn who she is developing a deep connection with while still not remembering Blake.

    This is a book extremely worth reading – you will not be able to put it down.

    I did not find this book predictable at all and the ending caught me by surprise.

    Thanks again to Harlequin and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read such a fantastic novel.

    Hope to see more from Vanessa Carnevale

  9. Thankyou Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read The Moments That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale.
    I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was heartwarming, interesting and emotional.
    I really felt for Gracie, after losing her memory and not knowing anyone, and I could understand and sympathise with why she wanted to go back to her family farm.
    I loved Tilly and Charlie! I would’ve loved to see more of their stories. I thought they were both interesting.
    I didn’t really like her best friend, but understood by the end of the book why she had acted the way she did.
    I did not see it ending the way it did! I loved the ending, I thought it had some great twists and turns in it and really kept me surprised all the way to the end.
    This book was great and I highly recommend to anyone looking for a light hearted easy read.
    I’m looking forward to reading more from Vanessa in the future!

  10. Thank you so much for allowing me to read and review The Memories That Make Us.

    This is the second novel by Vanessa Carnevale, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    Gracie and her fiance Blake are involved in a car accident, which leaves her suffering from severe amnesia. Feeling uncertain about her life, she leaves Blake and her life in the city to move back to her mother’s abandoned flower farm, determined to revive it and make a life of her own, not one made up of other people’s memories. There she develops new friendships and a connection with her neighbour Flynn. She is forced to examine who she has become, and would she live the same life over again?

    I found the book well-written and the story flowed smoothly, with characters that were interesting and charming, and the detailed descriptions of the farm, flowers and country-side so vivid. The story brings some intriguing twists and turns, and engages some thought-provoking, emotional topics. While I did not predict the ending, I loved it!

    I recommend reading this book wholeheartedly.

  11. I was so excited to read Vanessa Carnevale’s latest release, The Memories That Make Us, and I loved every minute of it. The premise of The Memories That Make Us is similar to the 2012 movie, The Vow. The Vow is the true story of Paige, an American woman who lost her memory as a result of a car accident, including the memory of her husband Leo. In Vanessa’s novel, Paige is replaced by Gracie while Blake is her finance instead of husband. As in The Vow, a car accident wipes Gracie’s memory clean but is here that any similarities ends.

    Told in the first person through the eyes of Gracie, The Memories That Make Us is set in Melbourne and the countryside of Summerfield, Australia. Telling the story from Gracie’s perspective really allowed me into her psyche. I was walking in her shoes as Gracie learnt about herself as well as the world she inhabits from scratch again.I could feel Gracie’s frustration as she realises she has lost basic skills and her anger at not knowing the people that love her. Most importantly. I learnt along with Gracie that she is a strong individual because she decides to discover everything her way, no matter how it affected other people. This was selfish move in one way but in another Gracie had to look after herself when she learns the truth about her family.

    For Gracie, doing things her way meant getting back to nature, Gracie has the opportunity to take over a cottage that is in the family and bring the adjoining flower far back to life. I learnt a lot through Vanessa as she took me through the intricacies of running a flower farm. It was a pleasure getting to know some of the different flowers and the level of knowledge needed. I know it’s not for me but hats off to those who put in the hard work that ultimately will bring a smile to a strangers face one day.

    Gracie’s finance, Blake, gets to tell his side of the story through his intermittent letters to Gracie. I could feel his pain as I read his letters. He showed himself to be a man that truly loved his future wife as he tried to give her what she wanted so they had still had the opportunity of a future together. I don’t know many people that would have the patience to endure what he did.

    With themes of love, the power of nature and friendship, The Memories That Make Us will make you question whether you believe in destiny or if we make our own fate.

  12. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read this book, ‘The Memories that make us’. I thoroughly enjoyed it. While this book kept me captivated, I also felt that I didn’t want to rush through it. It’s the kind of book that you want to read curled up by an open fire with a glass of red or a hot chocolate. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it is a delightful and decadent book.

    While some people found it drag a bit, I loved the descriptions. I have been to some of those places, and found that I could nearly feel the crisp air, and smell the grass etc.

    I found this book one of the most enjoyable that I have read in quite a long time. I will definitely be reading more of Vanessa Carnevale.

  13. “Do you make your memories,or do your memories make you?” this story line really makes you ponder this question.

    I loved reading “The Memories that make us” by Vanessa Carnevale a great Australian Author who I now intend on reading her debut novel “The Florentine Bridge”.

    A car accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia and she has to decide whether to live a life made up of memories told to her or start a new life on her own terms and find her own way back. She hopes leaving all that was near and dear to her, her best friend Scarlett and Fiance Blake and starting back at her happy place “Summerhill” a flower farm that she has a distant memory of, will help her put the pieces back together.

    I found this an engaging, moving and beautiful story, one that will appeal to many especially as a Book Club read (it actually includes Book Club questions in the back of the book). I felt for Gracie and what she went through, Scarlett who lost her best friend and Blake the woman he loved, The characters of the book were easy to love and relate to and I found the novel sucked me in and I kept reaching for it over the weekend until I was finished. Summerhill (the flower farm) is like another character and it is easy to fall in love with the place, see it in your mind and understand why Gracie loves it. The dashing vet Flynn is easy to like and you start cheering for him and Gracie.

    I also loved that it was not predictable and it really engaged me. The tale woven through the story about flowers, their meanings and the difference they can make to people was a nice touch.

    5 stars from me! Hard to put down and just a beautifully written book that I truly enjoyed. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books for the opportunity to read and review this book. Vanessa Carnevale thank you for a beautiful novel.

  14. The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale, set in the beautiful countryside of Australia, was a very thought provoking novel. The book reminds us how precious life is and that it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Gracie’s accident and amnesia is something unimaginable to most of us. I enjoy reading these sorts of stories, where the characters and their emotions are realistic.

    It was interesting to find out what path Gracie would take and whether she would make the difficult decision to choose Blake or Flynn. I loved reading this book and would recommend it for anyone who loves to read books that move you and pull on your heart strings. Thank you to Harlequin for the opportunity to read this fantastic book.

  15. Thank you for sending me this to book to read, absolutely loved it.

    The story line was not predicatable & had me not wanting to put it down. I had no idea of about the relationships between character until the end.

    A beautiful story about falling in love & finding love again by returning back to what you connect with the most, in this case Summerhill.

  16. This is the first novel that I have read by Vanessa Carnevale, and whilst I had seen the stunning cover on various platforms across social media, I wasn’t fully aware of the synopsis, so I went into this one without too much background about the story (which I actually prefer in most cases).
    The story begins with Grace Ashcroft and fiance Blake Beaumont driving to Grace’s best friend Scarlett’s birthday party.
    They have a collision and Blake is left with some minor injuries, whilst Grace is left suffering severe amnesia. She remembers nothing of her past – no memories of Blake, or of her job, or anything else about her life prior to the accident.
    She is too distressed to see Blake, and refuses to give in to his longing to remind her of the love they once shared, and his hopes to go back to the way things were.
    Scarlett tries her best to remind her of things from her past, to no avail.
    After Grace discovers that she had inherited a flower farm that was once owned by her mother, she makes the decision to head there and see if she can try and figure out some of the answers to the questions she has.
    She is welcomed into the Summerhill community quite quickly; meeting her veterenarian neighbour Flynn, Tilly, an old friend of her mothers, and Charlie, a local fellow with a generous heart.
    As Grace adapts to her new life, she makes the decision to revive the flower farm, and Flynn offers to help.
    As their friendship develops, Grace is torn between struggling to remember Blake, who writes to her in the hopes of jogging her memory about the love they once shared, and her new relationship with Flynn.
    Grace is forced to look at the person she has now become, and needs to work out where her future should take her.
    I don’t want to say too much more than that as I don’t want to spoil it for others, although I must say that I didn’t pick the ending!
    The beginning of The Memories That Make Us did remind me of a movie I have seen before, but thankfully the similarities ended there.
    I enjoyed reading the detailed descriptions of the flowers, and the process of preparing and growing the flowers. I also enjoyed reading about Tilly and Charlie, and would’ve liked to read more about both of them as they added a special element to the story.

    Thank you to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin for the opportunity to read and review The Memories That Make Us.

  17. This book finally made it to me and boy am so glad that it did. As a few others have mentioned, The Memories That Make Us, starts off a bit predictably, but it soon moved on. The story was lovely and the characters well developed. I thought it was an interesting concept what Gracie wanted to do – to re-develop her own ideas and feelings, not live by what others saw her as being.

    Half way through the story I had two ideas about what might happen and I was very excited to keep reading because both of them were going to be great. And I was right, one of my scenarios was what ended up happening, but I wasn’t sad that I had predicted it. I found this a hard to put down book and read it through housework and homework. It was just a really lovely story that made me feel good and happy by the end and left me with a smile on my face. I’ve already passed it on to my mother-in-law to read. Thank you Beauty and Lace for a wonderful book to review >:o)

  18. Thank you Beauty and Lace for this lovely book.
    I enjoyed it thoroughly espically looking at amnesia from a different angel. I love the reference to flowers and like music can bring back memories.
    Beautiful and easy read

  19. The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale is a fabulous read that was extremely hard to put down. After a car accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia she must decide if she wishes to live a life made up of others people’s memories of her life or to start afresh and make her own memories. Leaving her fiancé Blake behind she moves back to her mother’s abandoned flower farm, the farm that she has no memory of but knows that she must once have had happy times there.
    Whilst attempting to restart the flower farm Gracie needs to decide whether to let Blake back into her life – not knowing if their relationship was a happy one or not. What Gracie does not count on is developing a deep connection with her neighbour and local vet, Flynn. What is Flynn hiding and how does Gracie go about getting her life back or does she get to have a ‘do-over’
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Australia for allowing me to read this amazing book.

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