Author: Anstey Harris
Copy courtesy of Simon and Schuster
The Museum of Forgotten Memories also published as Where We Belong is the second novel by Anstey Harris. It is a captivating novel which has been beautifully written.
While Cate is in University she meets Richard and his best friend Simon. They fall in love, marry and have a son, Leo who had downs syndrome. Their life together was wonderful and they were devoted to giving Leo the best life possible until Richard’s depression surfaced and turned their world upside down. Cate did everything she could for Richard; making sure he was in a safe environment, being supportive and understanding, seeking help and seeing psychiatrists but the black dog haunted him and he was no longer the man he was. Simon came to stay to help with the care of Leo and ease the burden for Cate running a household and looking after Richard. One day the growls of the black dog became too much for Richard, it snapped, lunged and sunk its teeth in until there was nothing left in him to fight and he took his life.
Cate is overwhelmed with anger, guilt and grief and struggles to make sense of it all, feeling others who were not directly touched by the suicide do not understand what she is experiencing but she knows she has to do what is necessary for Leo who is also affected by the loss. Simon leaves on another expedition and she is left to pick up the pieces trying to re-establish routine with normalcy.
Over time Cate discovered Richard had taken out numerous loans which he had not paid back and with her becoming redundant from her teaching job the house was going to be repossessed. She struggles to find another job and make ends meet. With no options left she turns to Richard’s estate using a clause in the trust allowing her and Leo to move to a small town; Crouch-on-Sea to Richard’s grandfather’s old Victorian museum named “Hatters” which is full of unusual taxidermy exhibits and beautiful sprawling grounds. Cate and Leo move into the staff quarters joining Araminta the grouchy old caretaker.
Richard never spoke of the museum and Cate did not know what to expect especially with so many hidden secrets, but despite it being run down, the darkness and gloom she began to fall in love with its quirkiness. The museum becomes under threat of closure due to lack of visitors, putting differences aside Cate and Araminta find a way to work together to bring the museum back to life despite obstacles external and internal which force Cate to challenge herself to look beyond the other side of grief and secure a future for her and Leo.
I found this novel to be a great read exploring mental health issues, suicide, disability, loss, finding inner strength and starting over in the aftermath of a loved one’s suicide when you feel as though the suffering will never end.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Antsey Harris. You can read their comments below, or add your own review!
My love of books started at a very young age. My mum has always been a reader and encouraged me to read, buying me endless book from classic fairy tales advancing to the world of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Kathryn Kenny, Carolyn Keene, Francine Pascal. In my adult years the list of authors is endless and every room in my house is filled with books.
One of my favourite novels is Narnia which has always has a special place in my heart. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1978 and when I was given this book to read it let me escape to another world where I felt like I was in the book with all the characters, it wasfun and exciting to escape from reality and eased the ups and downs of the disease at such a young age.
In books nothing is impossible and there is endless potential and hundreds of places to explore or being taken to places that are only made up from the authors’ great minds, the past and future to navigate, characters lives you step into taking you on an emotional rollercoaster ride or being scared out of your wits. I can experience things that I can’t in real life because they’re not possible or real. It challenges my perspective and mindset expanding my worldview.
I find joy, comfort and peace with books, many people may not get it, but I know bookworms like me truly understand. Reading makes my heart happy.