Saturday, 28 September 2013

Books Read: Sarah Webb - The Memory Box

Can you ever really forget your first love?

Pandora Schuster is about to turn thirty but that’s the least of her worries. In Dublin she has just been tested for a hereditary family illness and, expecting the worst, is desperate for her ex-boyfriend and father of nine-year-old Iris to be a part of her daughter’s life. There are two major problems: Olivier Huppert lives in Paris and he has no idea that Iris even exists. So when Pandora secretly tries to find Olivier during her Parisian birthday weekend, it all ends in disaster.

As the agonising weeks until her test results crawl by, Pandora manages to find some distraction with her kind and sensible boyfriend, Declan, and with her fellow Shoestring Club members as they time-share a fabulous new designer dress. Yet matters of the heart are not easily forgotten and Pandora is determined for Iris to know the truth about her handsome, charismatic father. So she creates a memory box filled with photos, letters and mementoes of the magical time she spent with Olivier in Paris.

But when the past and the present start to collide Pandora finds herself having to choose between her head and her heart . . .

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Pandora Schuster lost her mother to cancer when she was a teenager so she's shocked when she's contacted out of the blue by a doctor, an old friend of her mother's, asking her to make an appointment to come and see her.  When she arrives she's stunned to be told that she has a 50/50 chance of carrying the cancer gene which triggers a whole myriad of emotions not least what would happen to her beloved daughter Iris were she to get ill.

Waiting for her test results fills Pandora with dread as to whether she would be around to watch her beloved daughter Iris grow up so she decides that she wants to be able to share with her precious memories so she creates a memory box filled with letters and photos of her time in Paris with her first love Olivier, Iris' father.

But she decides that this is not enough and she wants to try and find Olivier and with her thirtieth birthday approaching it seems the perfect opportunity for Pandora to arrange a trip to Paris with her sister Jules and friends and try and find him at the same time.  Will her mission be successful?

Meanwhile whilst waiting for the test results which she has kept secret from everyone Pandora has other issues to deal with, where her relationship with boyfriend Declan is going, concerns about Alex, one of the members of The Shoestring Club, and what to tell her sister Jules about the test...

Last year I read the first book featuring the Schuster sisters, The Shoestring Club, which primarily featured Jules and the setting up of the exclusive dress sharing club so had been looking forward to reading The Memory Box when I heard it was going to feature the same characters even though I knew from the blurb that this one was going to be a bit more of an emotional read. 

As with the previous book, we get to see the other members of the family, Jules, grandmother Bird and her dad, and friends Arietty and Rowie who all feel so familiar. We also get to find out more about the fourth member of The Shoestring Club, Alex, who we never really got to know in the first book. 

I flew through this book in no time at all and found myself willing everything to turn out OK for Pandora.  I really hope that we get to meet the Schuster sisters again in the future.

I'd like to thank Lucie at Pan Macmillan for sending me a copy of this book to review.  

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