- Paperback: 236 pages
- Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (June 30, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590584155
- ISBN-13: 978-1590584156
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,202,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Burden of Memory Paperback – May 15, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Delany's fine second mystery (after 2005's Scare the Light Away) offers a breath of fresh air from north of the border. Soon after Elaine Benson agrees to assist Miss Moira Madison, who served with the Canadian Army Nursing Sisters during WWII, with her memoirs, Elaine learns that the first writer Moira hired drowned in the lake by Moira's summer "cottage" after less than a week on the job. Later, as members of the privileged Madison clan gather at the cottage in Ontario's Muskoka region for Thanksgiving, tensions mount, culminating in a fire. Elaine suspects that someone will go to great lengths to prevent Moira from revealing certain family secrets. The alternating rhythm of chapters of contemporary narrative and shorter sections of Moira's recollections of life as an army nurse helps build suspense. The striking setting, the picture of the Canadian social elite and several deftly handled subplots make for a richly textured and highly satisfying read. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
After a messy divorce, Elaine Benson thinks that a job helping wealthy Canadian matriarch Moira Madison with her memoirs might be just the thing to get her nonfiction writing career back on track. Unfortunately, she didn't bargain for Moira's contentious extended family--three generations of relatives full of harsh opinions and bitter resentments. The contemporary family story, viewed through Elaine's outsider perspective, alternates with Moira's disjointed recollections of being a nurse during World War II, when she meets the love of her life and learns a secret about her beloved brother that she guards long after his death. Although Moira and her household are distinctive, it's difficult to keep some of the numerous other supporting characters straight, and hints of mystery and the supernatural (Is there a ghost, or isn't there?) never expand into real suspense. Even so, readers who favor leisurely puzzles steeped in family dynamics and flavored with descriptions of beautiful scenery may find this just what they're looking for. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Moira, as she prefers to be called, fears that the talented Elaine will uncover family secrets from the war days that she does not want revealed. Instead Moira prefers most of the bio to be concentrated on her work with the Canadian Army Nursing Sisters of World War II. However, Elaine, who moves into a nearby cottage, begins to uncover questions that link the so called accidental drowning by Donna to events during the late 1930s and early 1940s. Someone will kill to insure that certain secrets remain buried. She wonders if the man she recently met in Moira's home and is half in love with, Alan Manners, is behind the attempts to keep secrets hidden.
This is an interesting Canadian amateur sleuth thriller that works because Elaine is believable as she has the skills to analyze documents and uncover secrets. Her inquiries start off innocently but as she begins to comprehend what she is digging up, danger mounts and she ponders who to trust including those she cares about like her client and Alan. BURDEN OF MEMORY uses some flashbacks to tell the backdrop WWII story, but whether it is past or present Vicki Delaney provides a wonderful cozy.
The chapters of the book alternate between events in contemporary time and Moira's experiences as a Canadian Army Nursing Sister in Europe during World War II. By juggling the readers' attention back and forth, the author gives us a chance to learn valuable details before Elaine can get them out of Moira. As a result, we know (or think we know) what happened at the cabin and whose spirit continues to haunt it. The war scenes are surprisingly authentic, coming as they do from a female author. She provides no content-note explanations, leaving us to wonder if she might have based her portrayals on someone's actual experiences during the war. Nevertheless, her technique makes for a compelling narrative with likable though fallible characters.
While I very much enjoyed reading "Burden of Memory" and intend to read more of Vicki Delany's books, I wouldn't classify this one as a mystery. There are indeed mysterious elements to it -- as well as mystical ones. And even though Elaine wonders about the history of that cabin in the woods, it is not she who uncovers its truths. Neither does she unveil the individual guilty of supposed sabotage. And those denouements may not even add up to the biggest revelation in Madison family history. This is the kind of book that you might want to finish, then turn right around and read again to catch the hints and clues you missed the first time.
The story revolves around Elaine Benson, a struggling writer who needs a job and agrees to write a biography about Moira Madion, who was once a Canadian nurse in World War II in England.
The story moves from present day and to World War II as Moira recounts her life in World War II to Elaine.
Elaine has moved in with Moira and Moira's extended family in the wilds of Canada to complete the biography and through the inteview process, numerous family scandals unfold.
There are a number of mysteries about the previous biographer, who is found drowned under somewhat mysterious circumstances and there is a mystery in the woods surrounding the family compound.
There are a number of unanswered questions in the story which I thought led to an unsatisfactory read. The on-going smell of cloying perfume that Elaine smells in the woods, Ruth,the helpmate to Moira who can not stand Elaine, Moira's downright abusive behavior towards Ruth are all things that are thrown into the story in a hodge podge fashion and are really never explained.
This book does not recommend me to read another of the author's books but it is okay if you have nothing else to read.