- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (July 5, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250095778
- ISBN-13: 978-1250095770
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 192 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Memory Painter: A Novel of Love and Reincarnation Paperback – July 5, 2016
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“Gwendolyn Womack's tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)
“The guy-meets-girl story as you've never heard it before...A mind-explosion of a journey ensues that involves time travel, mystery, love, and a whole lot of plot twists.” ―Refinery29
“Suspenseful and ambitious...We predict The Memory Painter's story of love and revenge will be one of 2015's biggest literary hits.” ―Paste Magazine (Best New Books of the Month)
“It's a thriller as well as a love story, spanning 10,000 years of history. And it sounds freaking mental.” ―io9, The Most Essential Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of the Month
“A time-travel tale, stylishly told.” ―Elle Canada
“Womack's debut is one of those rare works that impresses from the first vivid, unsettling scene, gradually building an atmosphere of secrecy and trepidation that ensures that the suspense remains high throughout. Part mystery, part science-fiction plot and part romance, this is a novel with broad cross-genre appeal, and the well-drawn scenes and flashes of humor and insight give this thriller a rare depth as well.” ―RT Book Reviews
“It's best not to try to analyze the ambitious plot of this thriller, which combines romance, fantasy, and adventure; just hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“A page turner that will keep readers up late into the night. Readers who love adventure, romance and fantasy will love this book.” ―The Vancouver Sun
“Womack makes a romantic case for the existence of destiny...and does a beautiful job...Dive into this sweeping, romantic journey that will leave you breathless and a little unsure of where in time you've landed.” ―Kirkus Reviews (One of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Reads of the Month)
“Well-drawn historical flashbacks, engaging characters, and a twisty ending make this thrilling blend of neuroscience, romance, and ancient worlds good bets for Da Vinci Code and Outlander fans.” ―Booklist
“Some debuts cause a stir. [But] The Memory Painter makes quite a splash... On its surface, The Memory Painter reads like sci-fi. Fundamentally it speaks to the cultural, emotional, and spiritual connectedness that binds us all.” ―New York Journal of Books
“The Memory Painter is romantic and fun, full of history and science teased out at the perfect pace.” ―BookRiot
“Womack has crafted a dark story defined by fast-paced prose that at moments sings poetic...at the novel's conclusion, all story threads have been tightened into a snug, satisfying knot.” ―ZYZZYVA
“The chapters recounting [Bryan and Linz's] past lives are chock full of interesting historical tidbits...like being on a movie-themed ride at Disneyland.” ―Publishers Weekly
“In The Memory Painter, Gwendolyn Womack delivers a multi-layered debut novel like no other: passing through the veils of time and brimming with history, mystery, science, intrigue, and passion.” ―Katherine Neville, New York Times and No. 1 internationally bestselling author
“The Memory Painter is an absolute masterpiece. Spellbinding from beginning to end, this brilliantly woven tale of time-crossed lovers will keep you hooked well into the wee hours. Gwendolyn Womack is a storytelling virtuosa, whose sexy, action-packed mind-boggler of a book is destined to become a classic.” ―Anne Fortier, New York Times bestselling author of Juliet and The Lost Sisterhood
“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. Ten thousand love stories, tales of revenge, inventions, histories, mysteries, and memories combine to serve up a complex and utterly riveting novel that leaves you with feelings of awe and wonder. A star is born!” ―M. J. Rose, New York Times bestselling author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows
“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative--poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning. Womack's meditation on the beautiful mystery of memory is a riveting read from cover to cover, leaving us with the breathless realization that while grief may be eternal, so is love.” ―Charlie Lovett, New York Times bestselling author of The Bookman's Tale and First Impressions
About the Author
Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack studied theater at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She holds an MFA in Directing Theatre, Video, and Cinema from California Institute of the Arts. Her first novel, The Memory Painter, was an RWA PRISM award winner in the Time Travel/Steampunk category and a finalist for Best First Novel. She now resides in Los Angeles with her husband and her son.
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This provides an entertaining story, but the characters are generally predictable in all their actions, and attitudes. Nevertheless, I stuck with the novel and finished it in two days. I only rue the fact that the overtones of a romance novel, far outweighed any intimations of a suspenseful novel focused upon a cure for a devastating disease.
Yes romance novels are great for summer reading, hopefully, next time around, this author will match her fact checking and proofreading skills to her vivid imagination. (e.g., I was distracted by a mention of Boston, MA being "thousands" of miles away from St. John's Newfoundland. -- I googled this info, and found my suspicions were right: The two cites are 900+ miles apart.) Likewise the step pyramids in Mexico and Cambodia were "6000" miles apart -- no, actually they are more than 10,000 miles apart).
I’m all for a complicated narrative, but unfortunately, this book’s plot is as tangled and confused as its genre. The narrative bounces between the present and historical flashbacks spanning 10,000 years, but there are also journal entries mixed throughout, creating a three-tiered, non-linear storytelling mess that even I struggled to keep straight. The fact that it’s also written from third-person, alternating POVs as well doesn’t help.
Knowing the genre would have helped me have the right expectations, but that aspect seems to be entirely open to interpretation, as the publisher proudly proclaims that they publish books that are impossible to categorize, the author calls it a supernatural historical thriller, and reviewers across the board throw every genre tag that even remotely fits at it. I think it took me about 3/4 of the book to get a true feel for the genre, which, in my opinion, is a science fiction/romantic suspense mash-up, and is something I wish had clicked sooner. Once that happened, my expectations fell into line and the narrative found its groove, but by then, the book was largely over.
I will say that the thriller aspects of the story were fantastic, and the core mystery surrounding the various memories/lives and how they all fit together was enough to keep me reading, but the romance side was predictable, at times too convenient, and often fell flat. I didn’t feel the chemistry between the characters and so much of the emotional resonance was lost. I understood why the romance erred on the side of insta-love, but it just never fully formed for me.
I fear some of the problems I’ve noted stem from the fact that this book may have been under-edited. I’m not generally one to criticize this aspect (being an editor myself), but this novel had an appalling number of errors considering the number of people cited at the end who worked on it. From typos, to stylistic inconsistencies, to narrative weaknesses, I found myself routinely pulled out of the story and wondering how amazing it could have been if edited properly.
So, in summary, while I give Womack kudos for attempting such an ambitious tale, I also feel that it wasn’t quite ready for publication yet. There were too many elements at play, too many things that could have been developed a little more, and there is virtually no resolution. The entire book feels like a precursor to the story we will, hopefully, get to see in the sequel. Overall, I was left feeling disappointed and slightly irritated that the only answers we were given were ones that could be guessed by the halfway point, but I will still read the next one. The Egyptian mythology and underlying concept are enough, for now, to keep me intrigued, but I’m definitely hoping that book 2 (if there is a book 2) doesn’t suffer from the same problems as the first.