June 4, 2015

The Memory Painter Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the official blog tour for THE MEMORY PAINTER by Gwendolyn Womack! Today I'll be sharing my review of the book - and don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway at the end of the post! To follow the rest of the tour, click on the banner above.

The Memory Painter: A Novel
Author: Gwendolyn Womack
Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Picador


Internationally famous and reclusive artist Bryan Pierce has a secret. He paints memories of people who have lived in the past. His whole life he has suffered from these recalls. To keep his sanity he paints the dreams and hides from the world—until at an art opening, Linz Jacobs sees one of his paintings that is identical to a recurring nightmare she’s had her whole life. When they meet it becomes the catalyst for Bryan to begin to remember the life of a neuroscientist who died in an accident along with his wife in 1980, right as they were on the brink of curing Alzheimer’s. Solving the mystery of their deaths will lead Bryan and Linz to an even greater legacy buried deep in the past. Both a thriller and a timeless love story, THE MEMORY PAINTER spans six continents and more than 10,000 years. 


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The Memory Painter is one of those books that is nearly impossible to review - at least it is for me. There are so many aspects to this novel that come together to create a beautifully crafted and unforgettable story. The plot is what drew me to the book initially - it spoke of past lives, two people who love one another and always seem to find themselves together in their several past lives, and a fascinating mystery that promised to journey across time, space, and the entire world. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I did have pretty high hopes for the book before I began. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting into. The novel far surpassed any kind of expectations or hopes I may have had for it - and then some. It blew my mind in the best kind of way - and I'm still thinking about it long after I finished. This isn't merely a novel that is read - it's an entire experience that will leave a lasting impression on the reader. 

As I mentioned, there are so many concepts and various aspects that make up the book - each one entirely intriguing and deserving of being spoken of, but there simply isn't enough room to do so - and I certainly don't have the ability to do it any sort of justice by writing about it. I can only touch on a few of the topics and hopefully I'll be able to explain some of the reasons this novel had such an impact on me as a reader. There are two main characters - Bryan Pierce, a reclusive artist who has 'episodes' where he slips into the past and becomes a person from a different time and place. When he wakes, he has the recollection of that person's entire life - along with all of their knowledge and skills, which usually include being fluent in a foreign language and having the abilities of the person he became - which included creating clocks and being able to recite entire pieces of literature in their native tongue. Our second main character is Lindsay "Linz" Jacobs - a geneticist who is working on a huge project dealing with memories. Linz has been plagued with the same nightmare since she was a little girl - one about a woman in ancient Rome being burned at the stake. When Linz attends an art exhibit at her friends' gallery and sees her nightmare brought to life on canvas, she knows she has to talk to the artist who painted it. When Bryan and Linz meet, there's an instant connection between them - and Bryan is able to recognize Linz from every lifetime that he's remembered. Thus the mystery begins in earnest - with the two trying to figure out what they're experiencing, why they are always together in these memories, and to figure out exactly what happened to a group of scientists from the 1980s that created a drug that made all of this possible to begin with.

Although the book is told from the third person point of view - which is my least favorite writing style - the main characters were well written and had very distinct personalities and traits. By the end of the book, I felt as if I truly knew both of them - which I normally find difficult in books written in this POV. The real treasure and beauty of the novel is in the plot and the way the author carried it out. I found every single aspect of the story captivating and I couldn't get enough of it. I loved learning about the various past lives that Bryan and Linz remember - they are written with such precision and attention to detail that I could close my eyes and feel as if I were there too. The whole concept of time travel and past lives both captivates me and boggles my mind at the same time. They're both huge topics with so many different variations and possibilities that I find it hard to wrap my mind around them. The author was able to open the door to these ideas and allowed us to get a glimpse inside without being overwhelming. I do have to admit that the writing did take a little bit to get used to. The use of the third person point of view along with the parts of the book that contain the jumps backward in time were a bit hard to get used to, but once I became accustomed to the style, I was able to easily slip inside the story and the world(s) the author created. I can't even begin to describe the different lifetimes that we get to read about during the book - or even the story that occurs in the present with Bryan and Linz - because I can't seem to find the right words at all. And, like I said before, I wouldn't be able to do the book the justice it truly deserves with my thoughts and feeble attempt at a review. 

I can only say that this was one of the best books I've ever read - for so many different reasons. It's wholly unique and captivating, and will leave the reader wishing it wouldn't end as well as making a last impression. There's so much involved in the story - little details and things I know I missed - along with wanting to experience it all over again. I know without a doubt that I will be re-reading this novel several times over and will probably discover something new each time. I can't recommend this book highly enough. The author mixes together such a wide variety of genres that there's a little bit of something for everyone inside it's pages, and I believe that readers of all types of fiction should get their hands on a copy of this book. It's a beautifully written, thought provoking, and mesmerizing masterpiece that will surely become a huge hit. The fact that it's the author's debut novel also blew my mind. There's absolutely no way I would've guessed it myself. The writing shows a truly natural talent and the story is simply magnificent. This is an author to keep your eye on - if this was just the beginning of what she's capable of, I can't wait to read what she comes out with next!

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college while freezing in the tundra at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. During that time she lived in St. Petersburg, Russia on an independent study working with theater companies. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing theater and film where she was encouraged to write her own material. After graduating she focused on writing feature screenplays and was a semi-finalist in the Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship. In 2009 she moved to Japan and began to write THE MEMORY PAINTER the following year. Currently she resides in Southern California with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. THE MEMORY PAINTER is her first novel. 

Buy Links:
Barnes and Noble

 (1) Winner will get a signed copy of THE MEMORY PAINTER + a vegvisir charm.
(Ships in US only / Must be 13+ to enter)



  1. I would go back to La Belle Epoque era in Paris. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. I would go to the future. I would love to see my future family and discover all of the new technological inventions.