‘A talented and tortured artist about to have her first exhibition’ @CathyRy reviews Small Forgotten Moments by @AnnalisaCrawf

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

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Cathy has been reading Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Small Forgotten Moments tells the story of Jo McKye, in her own words, a talented and tortured artist living in London and about to have her first exhibition. Her paintings all feature a mysterious woman she’s named Zenna who invades her thoughts whether she is awake or asleep. Jo has no idea who the woman is, but feels compelled beyond any reason she can fathom to recreate her on each canvas, one after the other.

‘Painting Zenna over and over wasn’t intentional. In the beginning, I had no concept of what I was creating, I just allowed the paints to flow, the ideas to flower.’

Jo suffers from long term memory loss and can’t recall much of anything beyond several years ago. She knows she has a mother in Cornwall but can’t remember why they’re not in touch. Her best, almost only friend and house mate, Nathan, looks out for her as much as she allows him to.

Jo knows she can’t live a ‘normal’ life with so much of her past missing. Without memories to ground her, or a sense of self, she feels adrift. Added to that, Zenna seems to be taking over her life and affecting her health, both physically and mentally. It’s time to try and take control, break free of Zenna’s hold over her, learn what she can of her past, before she descends into total madness. On the spur of the moment she decides to go home, to Cornwall and her mother.

‘All the answers are here—in the crevices and shadows of my brain. Perhaps I should give up the search. Yet Zenna remains, taunting me. Her eyes burrow into me, her smirk troubles me. Lurking in my closed-door memory, concealed in my past.’

I enjoyed the psychological slant on the memory loss aspect, giving more depth to the theme. The angst and confusion that dominates Jo’s life is depicted extremely well, haunting and heartbreaking in it’s intensity, particularly so in the last quarter when all comes to a head in a way I wasn’t expecting. The Cornish coast is the perfect setting for the storm of emotions and revelations that batter Jo.

Small Forgotten Moments is character driven, dark, expressive, fascinating and very well written.

Desc 1

Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?

Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.

Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.

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Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Living With Amnesia. @em_banks reviews Small Forgotten Moments by @AnnalisaCrawf, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Elanor.

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Elanor has been reading Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Small Forgotten Moments is the story of Jo Mckye, an emerging artist celebrating her debut exhibition. But her fictional subject, Zenna, has become an obsession. We see Zenna infiltrating every part of Jo’s life and her unconscious as Jo increasingly struggles with telling the real from the fictional. She is driven to return to her childhood home and learn about her past in an effort to understand Zenna’s origins, and try to rid herself from this malevolent influence.

We are told early on that Jo suffers from amnesia, meaning she can’t remember any of her life before 3 years ago. Amnesia is a trope that is fairly well explored in the psychological thriller genre but I felt that the perspective here is interesting and stays on the right side of cliche. I occasionally asked myself “How would that even work?” – only to be given some insight and a whole bunch of new questions in the next chapter.

The novel focuses not on a disorientating early confusion stage of amnesia, but on Jo’s long-term experience, asking what it means to try to live a normal life, to create and plan without reference to a past – “I know I’m not who I’m supposed to be. How can I be, with so much of myself nestled so deeply within?“. In this context, Jo’s art appears as both therapy and a feverish necessity, as she wrestles unconsciously with her past.

The first person narration is so tight and unreliable that I felt some secondary characters were robbed of airtime. I wanted more of the best friend and the housemate, and in particular I felt I didn’t get a handle on Jo’s mum – though this probably reflects Jo’s own uncertainty and mental fog during her time at home.

The Cornish sea is almost a character in its own right. I loved the way Annalisa Crawford illustrates Jo’s confused mental state using the language of water as primal, uncontrollable and dangerous – foreshadowing a dramatic, psychological climax that was definitely not what I expected.

I read this book so quickly! It kept me entertained and guessing to the end. I would absolutely recommend it to fans of the genre.

4 stars.

Desc 1

Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?

Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.

Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.

Haunting and melodic, fans of Daphne du Maurier and Daisy Johnson will adore this.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]