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The Memory of Love

av Aminatta Forna

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygDiskussioner / Omnämnanden
7084632,187 (3.98)3 / 446
Adrian Lockheart is a psychologist escaping his life in England. Arriving in Freetown in the wake of civil war, he struggles with the intensity of the heat, dirt and secrets this country hides. A story unfolds about ordinary people in extrordinary circumstances and the indelible effects of the past.
  1. 20
    Pojken på andra sidan av Irene Sabatini (tangentialine)
    tangentialine: same elegiac, lyrical tone; same discussion of the ravages of civil war; analysis of white-black people interaction.
  2. 00
    Anils skugga : roman av Michael Ondaatje (tangentialine)
    tangentialine: same elegiac, lyrical tone; same discussion of the ravages of civil war; also, outsider who comes to help.
  3. 00
    The Bite of the Mango av Mariatu Kamara (Anonym användare)
    Anonym användare: Not a literary masterpiece, but a young girl's memoir of her harrowing experiences in Sierra Leone during the period of Forna's book.
  4. 00
    Ancestor Stones av Aminatta Forna (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Forna's first book about the civil war, told by four women.
  5. 00
    Lång väg hem : en barnsoldats berättelse av Ishmael Beah (sylco)
  6. 00
    Mrs Angels tårtbageri av Gaile Parkin (krazy4katz)
    krazy4katz: Angel is a baker who makes cakes to support her husband and grandchildren. The story takes place in Rwanda after the genocidal war of 1994. Through her baking of cakes, Angel heals those around her as well as herself.
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#ReadAroundTheWorld. #Sierra Leone

"And there are others still who say love is but a beautiful form of madness."

The Memory of Love is a dual timeline historical fiction set in Sierra Leone in the 1960s and 2000s. The author Aminatta Forne was born in Scotland and raised in Sierra Leone where her father was from. He was executed on trumped up charges when she was only 11. The book is set in a post-war context and deals with both love and trauma. It has been shortlisted for both the Warwick Prize for Writing and the Orange Prize for Fiction and won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

British psychologist Adrian Lockheart arrives in Sierra Leone in 2001, after the civil war between government forces and rebel insurgents has ended. The war began in 1991 and left fifty thousand people dead, and 2.5 million displaced. He specialises in PTSD and has been sent there to try and help the Sierra Leoneans process their grief and trauma. Adrian is something of a great white saviour figure, and takes a long time to recognise that he may not actually be wanted there, and that possibly 99% of the population is suffering from what he calls PTSD but they call life. As Forna points out, “War had the effect of encouraging people to try to stay alive. Poverty, too. Survival was simply too hard-won to be given up lightly.”

One of Adrian’s patients is a retired professor Elias Cole whose health is failing. Elias begins to tell the story of his life in the 1960s when he became obsessively enamoured of Saffia, the wife of his colleague Julius. Elias’ obsession has far reaching consequences of betrayal that echo into the next generation.

Adrian also develops a friendship with Kai Mansaray, a local surgeon who also suffers nightmares related to war-time trauma and a broken relationship with Nenebah. Adrian becomes involved with musician Mamakaye despite having a wife and child back in England. This relationship draws the three characters together in an unexpected turn of events.

This was a beautifully written book with well-fleshed out characters. The audio-narration by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
was excellent. My only difficulty was I didn’t like many of them. Elias was entitled and manipulative, Adrian was just meh. The women in the story may have been more likeable, but sadly did not have a voice of their own, their stories being told by the men. I would definitely read another book by this author. ( )
  mimbza | Apr 17, 2024 |
‘This is their reality. And who is going to come and give the people who live here therapy to cope with this?’ asks Attila and waves a hand at the view. ‘You call it a disorder, my friend. We call it life.’ – Aminatta Forna, The Memory of Love

In 2001, British psychologist Adrian Lockheart volunteers to help with mental health services in Sierra Leone, where residents are recovering from civil war. Terminally ill, aging academic Elias Cole, one of Adrian’s patients, tells Adrian his story of love and loss, almost as if he is seeking absolution. Adrian develops a friendship with local surgeon, Kai Mansaray, who is haunted by his own past traumas and lost love. Adrian is the focal point for the convergence of these three storylines.

This is a novel that works on multiple levels. It is a story of obsessive love, betrayal, the transience of memories, the recent history of Sierra Leone (1960s to 2000s), political corruption, and the traumatic impact of war on mind, body, and soul. Forna expertly weaves the storylines together and the common elements become more pronounced as the story progresses. The writing is stunning – elegant, expressive, and emotionally convincing. It is a pleasing blend of plot and characterization. I found it engrossing and kept trying to figure out all the interconnections. I am not sure what else I could ask from a book.

Be aware that it contacts graphic descriptions of war-related violence and symptoms of PTSD.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
The novel is set in Sierra Leone, at various times in its tumultuous history. There are two main story lines. Adrian Lockheart is a British psychologist who takes a government posting in the capital city near the turn of the 21st century, hoping to help people suffering from PTSD in the wake of civil unrest and outright war. He is less than successful at this, in great part because he completely lacks understanding of the nature of the problem his prospective patients face. What would “normal” mean to a population that is continuing to live with the aftereffects of multiple conflicts, political upheaval and widespread deprivation? This is pointed out to Adrian by two local residents who each become very important to him: Kai, an orthopedic surgeon who is a victim of trauma himself; and Mamakay, a woman with whom Adrian falls in love. He is also drawn into the history of a dying man, Elias Cole, who tells Adrian his version of revolutionary events of the 1970s, somewhat in the manner of a man seeking absolution for his role.

My knowledge of the history of this country was minimal to non-existent before I picked up The Memory of Love. I found myself floundering a bit, precisely because I could not put the characters and their background into any familiar context. An early reference to book titles intrigued me. I looked them up, and they are actual books. I did a little more research, and penciled in a rough time-line inside the cover of my paperback for ready reference. This helped me immensely, and I am extremely glad I took the trouble. But....BUT....did the author expect her readers to be better informed than I was going in? And, in general, were they? SInce the book was published in Britain, and since Sierra Leone was once a British colony/protectorate, and later an independent member of the Commonwealth, I suspect the answer may be "yes". In general, I have no problem with an author giving their readers the benefit of the doubt this way, or even expecting them to do their homework before or while reading. It did make for a bit of a slow start for me, but I am more than happy that I put in the extra effort, and stuck with the story.
I thought the parts where Adrian was confronted with the Big Question---what am I doing here?---were very revealing. The curse of "the white man's burden" acting on him, in his naivete about what his sort of therapy might accomplish under the existing circumstances. Perhaps some actual personal guilt, as his own grandfather had been a part of the colonial government.
Having finished the novel, I considered whether to give it 4 1/2 or 5 stars. The hesitation came from one or two elements that left me wondering "why" and from pondering whether being left with that question is a good thing or a bad thing. I settled on 4 ½, but that is not to say that I didn’t find this an incredibly powerful read. I may return to it one day, and a second read could very well cause me to bestow that last half star. ( )
1 rösta laytonwoman3rd | Feb 22, 2022 |
I feel like I'm being a bit harsh, but still, I can't say I "REALLY" liked this book. Honestly I think the structure didn't appeal to me. There was no "grand narrative" – plot lines finished well before the end, and started well after the start – and it was a bit confusing. The writer rarely spelled twists out, just somehow stating that the point-of-view character at that particular moment had made a shocking discovery that the reader was meant to have got too. I rarely did and I spent a lot of time flicking backwards to try to work it out, only to usually fail.

Aside from that it was pretty good, though. It talks about love, war, tragedy, and all those kinds of big themes. It doesn't depict this really creepy man as a lover extraordinaire (ahem, García Márquez). It's worth reading. Just not spectacular. ( )
  Jayeless | May 27, 2020 |
This novel is set in Sierra Leone, after the civil warm of the 1990s and up to 2002. Adrian is a psychiatrist who has come to Sierra Leone to try and help.
There are certainly people suffering here, with post traumatic stress from the atrocities during the civil war and he struggles to understand these and find a way to help. The novel begins with the story of Elias Cole and his infatuation with a colleagues wife. It becomes clear that Elias Cole is narrating this story to Adrian. Adrian meets Kai, a surgeon at the hospital, born in Sierra Leone. His best friend has emigrated to the US and Kai is keen to join him but his ties to Sierra Leone are clear. These stories are eventually woven together cleverly and painfully and after initial indifference I found myself drawn in to the lives and compelled to finish the novel. A well-crafted novel that does not hide the cruelty and pain of a civil war but is ultimately about love and relationships. ( )
1 rösta CarolKub | Aug 25, 2019 |
Visa 1-5 av 46 (nästa | visa alla)
Farlig aktuell roman fra Sierra Leone
Om lidenskap, besettelse og borgerkrig.
tillagd av annek49 | ändraDagbladet, Cathrine Krøger (Apr 25, 2011)
 
Forna’s characters weave in and out of each other’s lives, often with entirely unforeseeable and shocking consequences. They are so well drawn, and so universally authentic, that each time the narrative view switches from one to the other one almost longs for a convenient twodimensional caricature as light relief from possession. With whom can the reader most easily identify? Adrian, the English ingénu? Kai, the heroic surgeon who cannot see the green grass in the other field? Cole, the sell-out? Or Agnes — whose mind has quite rightly opted to walk rather than think about what she must endure?

Forna’s intense research into surgery and psychiatry is as lightly worn as her ability to hide her own craft as a writer...Let us hope that it takes its place where it deserves to be: not at the top of the pile of “African Literature” but outside any category altogether — and at the top of award shortlists
 
This is an ambitious project. Forna has written before about the power of storytelling to talk our lives into different shapes. Here she moves deftly between the enchantments of different narratives: the therapeutic, the confessional, the traumatic – flashbacks, nightmares, hauntings, fugue states where stories are lost or distorted beyond recognition and the sweetly joyous themes of new love, renewal, springing hope, second chances..... Forna understands that it is only by making patterns out of chaos that humans find the courage to continue living. And in this affecting, passionate and intelligent novel about the redemptive power of love and storytelling, she shows how it is done.

 
Forna's book is set in the city at almost exactly that time – not long after the end of one of the bloodiest civil wars in modern African history – and she captures exactly the sense of numbed brutalisation that I saw first-hand in many places: in the eyes of former child soldiers who had been forced to mutilate and murder their parents, in the camps full of young girls raped and enslaved by the rebel forces, and abandoned by their families because of the "shame". I remember all too vividly trying to collect the horror stories that were those lives and the absolute inadequacy of my questions: "How did it feel…?" We like to talk about conflict resolution, and truth and reconciliation, in the context of such nationwide atrocity (the particular gruesome speciality of the war in Sierra Leone was the systematic amputation of limbs; queues were formed in front of drugged young men with machetes. But how do you really go about healing that kind of pain?

That is one of the questions that Forna approaches with the utmost caution in an ambitious and deeply researched novel – and the answers she finds are never easy.
 

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For Simon, with Love
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On the iron-framed bed a single, scant sheet has moulded itself into the form of the human beneath.
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People think war is the worst this country has ever seen: they have no idea what peace is like. The courage it takes simply to endure.
And when he wakes from dreaming of her, is it not the same for him? The hollowness in his chest, the tense yearning, the loneliness he braces against every morning until he can immerse himself in work and forget. Not love. Something else, something with a power that endures. Not love, but a memory of love.
I think it would be wrong to say I ever followed Saffia. In conversation the names of places she liked to visit or where she did her shopping might arise. Later, I might jot the detail down in my notebook. And if I happened to find myself there at any of those times, naturally I would look to see if she happened to be there also. Sometimes I might say hello. Other times, I thought it better not to intrude on her thoughts. I might have watched her from a distance. That was all.
Julius believed in himself. He didn’t fear death – for death was too insignificant, too small, it resided below the level of his contempt. He had survived a serious childhood illness that killed many others. He drew power from the fact of it, as though it proved he was blessed.
The Dean was a small man, dark-skinned, balding and possessed of a quicksilver energy, with tiny hands and feet, and high round buttocks which pitched him forward, so he appeared to approach the world at a trot.
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Adrian Lockheart is a psychologist escaping his life in England. Arriving in Freetown in the wake of civil war, he struggles with the intensity of the heat, dirt and secrets this country hides. A story unfolds about ordinary people in extrordinary circumstances and the indelible effects of the past.

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