Blog Book Tour | “The Memory Painter” by Gwendolyn Womack

Posted Tuesday, 12 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “The Memory Painter” direct from the publisher Picador in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I was wicked enthused to read ‘The Memory Painter’:

I still remember when I first learnt of The Time Travellers Wife – as I was still invested in being an active member of the Science Fiction Book Club (until the day arose where the quality of the hardback editions fell below everyone’s standards; early 2000s) when I happily collected my copy of the book amongst a few wicked awesome time travel, time shift or time slip stories which were being featured together! I have had a penchant for these theories of how to bend time to the will of a writer’s pen for most of my life – as I dearly love how you can subject a reader to the plausible realities of where time bends out of it’s continuum to a separate plane of thought, conscious and experience.

I never had the pleasure of reading the forementioned story before it became a bonefide feature film, which was of course, one of the few times I opted for the film over the book! My soul was crushed afterwards – I literally had trouble walking out of the theater as my emotional state was such to effectively render me wobbly on my feet! I love emotional stories, but this time round – I felt it was taken too far and evocatively affected me too deeply to even speak afterwards! I’ve been hesitatively curious about reading stories that might entertain a similar vein of emotional heartache yet at the same time, my imagination hungers for these stories where time is not as conclusive to it’s era nor of it’s living reality for those who lived within it’s scope.

Time is temporal and with that realisation comes the prospects of never quite understanding the full fabric of how time and our timescapes can be affected by the shifting parallels of how time is explored. This is truly why I wanted to read this particular story – to curl up inside another author’s vision of how time can be manipulated on one hand and how time is altered by those lives who walk outside of a traditional trajectory of a well-lived life. I also have been open to stories which deal with reincarnation ever since I first caught sight of The Reincarnation Library (which was a mail-order book club for hardback re-issues of classic stories that explored the theories behind it; as noted on a review by Nicole Evelina). Literature has the beautiful depth of scope to take us to new horizons and frontiers just past our peripheral understanding of life and how time runs concurrent to our own living histories.

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I’ve explored thought-provoking stories on Jorie Loves A Story under this vein of interest previously on my ruminative thoughts attached to the following stories:

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley (see Review); The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (see Review); A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (see Review); The Last Gatekeeper by Katy Haye (see Review); Intangible (see Review) & Invincible (see Review) by C.A. Gray; To Live Forever: an Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis by Andra Watkins (see Review); Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri (see Review); Antiphony by Chris Katsaropoulos (see Review); Moonflower by EDC Johnson (see Review); The Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson (see Review); The Silent Touch of Shadows by Christina Courtenay (see Review); Romancing the Soul by Sarah Tranter (see Review); A Stitch in Time by Amanda James (see Review); Blue Spirit: A Tipsy Fairy Tale by E. Chris Garrison (see Review); The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley by Susan Örnbratt (see Review); Wishful Thinking by Kami Wicoff (see Review); The Angel of Losses by Stephanie Feldman (see Review) and the partial review of The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead!

I included a reading list for Magical Realism on my review of The Golem & the Jinni by Helene Wecker – which also proves the point how I continuously remain open to finding the story-tellers who are creating fiction that goes above and beyond the traditional threading of how a story can be told whilst visually capturing our imagination to jettison into a theory of how everything can be altered by perception!

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Notation on Cover Art: I was sent the trade paperback edition by Picador, where I must say, I was more impressed than the predominately ‘yellow’ jacket of the other edition!? The reason I am thankful for this version in my hands is because the colours are muted which elude to ‘yesteryear’ and the nod towards the clock with symbols etched into the background appearing as a watermark whilst cross-overlaid with the shadows of Bryan and Linz simply make sense to me! It has a weathered appearance you would expect of a time travel romance but also, the illusion of a greater mystery that lends the suspenseful nature of how the story is told through Womack’s narrative.

Blog Book Tour | “The Memory Painter” by Gwendolyn WomackThe Memory Painter
Subtitle: A novel of Love & Reincarnation

Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Life After Life and Winter’s Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780425277720

on 5th July, 2016

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category.

Published By: Picador (@PicadorUSA) via St. Martin’s Press
imprints of St. Martin’s Publishing Group,
which is now a part of MacMillian Publishers

Available Formats: Hardback, Trade Paperback and Ebook

About Gwendolyn Womack

Gwendolyn Womack Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema.

Currently she resides in Los Angeles 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.

Photo Credit: Copyright JennKL Photography

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Elements of parapsychological research:

Womack has etched into the heart of her story, certain aspects of parapsychological research – most visually recognisable is by how we’re first introduced to Bryan, as he is experiencing an automated painting session quite similar to an automated writing session; where his hands and mind are working in unison whilst his subconscious directs his actions. He’s gaining information about people he hasn’t met or rather of people he doesn’t remember meeting (as this eludes to reincarnation and possible past lives) – yet he’s determined to get the portraits of his subjects ‘correct’ as they are represented through art.

His style is living art – if his canvas could talk, they would! You might have walked through an art gallery or museum, recognising some artists have the uncanny ability to simply ‘evoke life’ straight out of their artwork – where if you look twice, you nearly feel as if whatever is being represented could truly burst into life and become a part of your living reality. This apparently is how Bryan has fused art with lost memories – lost because they are not attached to him in the present whilst they are a fusion of where dreams and memory can re-write the historical past; granting us a visual map of what needs to be understood.

My review of The Memory Painter:

(Bryan) We enter the shoes of a bloke who slips between conscious awareness of being within his own skin and the veiled dimension of purporting his mind through the ethers of time. He remains aware of himself (despite the contrary observations of his ‘altered state’), including the actions he is committing but what eludes him are the finer variables behind why he paints depictions of ‘other people’s lives’ and speaks fluently in ancient tongues! He is motivated beyond his own logic, as if there is a portion of his soul connected to a different plane – encouraging him to act and speak on behalf of events he can only speculate as being real. His canvases are alive with the breath of me – lives altered by fate or death.

In the same way, the paint extracts out a finality to how all of life is set in motion against a chain of interlocking cables. Where time bends and unfolds to a rhythm of truth that guides the mind who understands what is not readily seen but what is known all the same.

(Linz) A woman whose guarded mind and heart reminded me of Lady Darby, as her reserved reluctance to appear vulnerable echoed the other woman to such an extent of recognition it was uncanny! They even matched each other for finding there is one unknown factor neither foresaw as a possibility: the meeting of the one person who they could illuminate their interior thoughts without judgement.

As Bryan’s dreamscapes take such a lock-hold over his mind, he feels as if he’s being forced to perpetually live whole lifetimes in the spic of a day or an hour; to such a degree of realism, his entire being is pushed against itself, worn and shattered. His exhaustion is unmatched, as it’s such a sensory infusion of stimuli assaulting him all at once – he feels and sees everything, whilst he has the thoughts of those who had lived centuries prior to his own lifepath as well. The interior of his own mind felt limited and pulled apart, as if he was slowly half-erasing who he was for the sake of preserving the other lives who felt to be a bit more urgent to grab a hold of; if only to remember what was forgotten.

If you’ve seen Somewhere in Time (starring Christopher Reeve & Jane Seymour) your familiar with how you can bridge the gap between one slip in time to another; where even objects can have a direct impact on you or the time period your visiting. I was not surprised that the ring which meant so much to the Russian who had died was now bleeding into the reality of Bryan; as everything through time is inter-connected, and sometimes moreso than by first appearances. What I appreciated most about this sequence of how Bryan is living cross-realities, is how Womack rooted you into the other person’s life so intrinsically settled into that ‘moment’, you could not help but acknowledge how powerful of an experience Bryan was having himself! As if you could theorise his will-power to re-enter his own skin for a moment, and how jarring it must be to remember your not ‘that’ person but ‘yourself’ as you resume where you were before you ‘slipped through time’.

Memories. Recollective histories. Small gestures of entwined lives. Everything starts to pull into place when two souls who are the half of each others whole reconnect into one singular timeline. It is as if they were distanced for reasons lost to the current spirits who are attached to the history of the individual soul of which has lived more lives than either could speculate as being plausible. Yet. There are markings of the past within them, little reminders that once sparked out of a hidden well of memory could foretell the future as much as explain the past.

Time travelling mysteries such as the one Womanck has assembled for us to read, is in part a mystery told in pieces – you have to re-arrange the pieces back together as you would a jigsaw puzzle! Each piece might seem like it interlocks to another, but how and why do those pieces behave in the way they do if they are only meant to paint one portrait of interest? This mystery has hidden layers and duality of meaning for each revelation Bryan and Linz feel they are on the cusp of understanding. You hunger to turn the pages – Womack has writ such an eloquent story, her words easily leap off the pages as your reading whilst endeavouring to keep your rapt attention until the very last chapter is consumed!

The deeper you entreat into the story, the more you see how intricate the plot is tethered, not only are Bryan and Linz connected but so too, are the scientists who originally created the drug that altered the state of everyone’s living realities; it was meant to help people with debilitating dementia but somewhere became an arc into sorting out how to re-live past lives whilst attaching oneself to memories of people they used to be whilst understanding the past lives of everyone else they encountered. This took being psychic to a new heightened horizon as it wasn’t simply ‘seeing people’ as the person they were in the past, but understanding the whole living history of that individual! To put it a different way, it was similar to how Dr. Beckett stepped into each new life whilst he was ‘quantum leaping’ through history.

The more Bryan learnt about his own past, the more he saw was being revealled about how past events were not superseding into his own pathway. His father’s friends’ turnt out to be pivotal, but so too, did Linz’s role in who was behind the original discovery of the drug. Her current workplace in particular could shed a light or two on things; but also, her field of interest (in mapping how memory is inked into the regions of the brain which allow us to recollect what we remember) and the methodology of how her experiments were keenly running parallel to the older research trials.

This wasn’t merely about how art transfused living history onto canvas or how medical science was pushing itself into a paradigm of a new age of technologic advances that could take humanity to the ledge of where ethics were no longer visible. It was about how what was first learnt in the past is truly meant to be repeated until the lesson that was never quite absorbed is fully known. In each painting there was a hidden secret, a hidden truth about ‘something’ that was quite pertinent to be revealled but which was cast out of history’s view. Even pages of the historical past were already known to be altered in historical accounts, something that Bryan learnt by visiting the library. Womack creates an undercurrent of a thinking-narrative that leads you down more than one avenue of interest as your trying to solve the mystery and arrive at the conclusion before Bryan and Linz.

Fly in the ointment:

I am unsure why this happens but it continues to vex me a bit, as whenever I find an eloquently expressed poetic narrative at some point within the chapters of it’s story’s heart I find the beauty of it is blighted out by vulgarity! This irks my ire time and time again – everything is captured so well, everything leading up to that one inclusive strong word is brilliantly conveyed and then, of course, the moment is like a balloon that pops unexpectedly and darkens the joy. This is how it feels to me as I am reading such a lovely novel as this and then, find it’s marred a bit by a word that simply did not need to be said. I mean, honestly!? There are so many other words that would have inferred the same!? Mind you, I overlooked this first entreaty on the story, but if it were to continue, I knew it would lesson my joy a bit once I started to reflect over how the story settled through my mind. It’s just not needed. Lucky for me it remained an anomaly and I could enjoy the rest of the story! There were a few words here or there, but overall, the story blissfully remained poetically imaginative!

On the writing style of Gwendolyn Womack:

Womack uses creative juxtapositions throughout her novel – where we’re with Bryan and Linz one moment, whilst being treated to a sequence of knowledge not yet introduced to the main thread of the story-line. This is where she shifts both perspective and the trisectional splitting between the main context of how Bryan & Linz are inter-connected to each other, the critical research on Alzheimer’s and the mystery History has attempted to shroud out of memory and sight from humanity. She presents her characters with a depth of being who are grounded as much as they are dimensional. You can sense their emotions, even at a first glance to how they hold themselves and how they allow themselves to interact with others. There is quite a lot bubbling just below the surface – not only of the narrative direction but through the stitchings of how her characters are moulded together.

Womack writes with a subtle accuracy of giving you just enough information per each scene or character visit to allow you to tie everything together in the larger scope of things. It’s an interesting told narrative, from the point-of-view of shifting perceptions and how you are augmented through different portals of how the story-line is moving forward. The main focus is centred on Bryan and Linz, but you have other influences moving the timeline as well as how each cross-section pertains to the two protagonists who hold the key to the whole story! You can simply let your mind alight through Womack’s graceful narrative and let yourself wander as you wonder how the author knitted the story out of the ethers!

I give a nod of excellence to Womack for compellingly giving her readers a visceral level of realism towards understanding how Bryan painted his portraits of life and death! She used words as he uses paint – you could not help but feel as if you were standing below his portraits, seeing how everything felt alive and telling in that stance you took to see what shouldn’t be able to be seen. It’s a lovely novel of depth for the world of art, as similar to music, art is at times hard to conceptionalise on the page; Womack had such an organic way of presenting the art, you could not help but appreciate it in full!

How Womack was able to intervene on History to such a level of intriguing juxtapositions, I am uncertain! As she even brought back to life the compelling argument of how sometimes not everything is fully resolved before or after death! She interwove Egyptology in such a fascinating and inventive way as to cross their Ancient History with our current timeline! It was wonderful to watch her pull her layers together, explore the details further and to watch how even her characters were a bit startled by how everything was inter-connecting straight through to the finish! Her mind truly has captured the intricacies of a plot that is told not only through multiple perspectives but through a threading of counter current lives who are affectingly drawn to each other due to how their past lives originally affected their soul’s journey. Now that’s beyond impressive for a debut novel!

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

Follow the Virtual Road Map by visiting the blog tour route:

The Memory Painter blog tour via HFVBTs

 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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{SOURCES: Book cover for “The Memory Painter”, author biography, author photograph of Gwendolyn Womack, the tour host badge and HFVBTs badge were all provided by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter.

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Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2016.

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 12 July, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Alzheimer's Disease, Ancient Civilisation, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Art, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Trailer, Bookish Films, Boston, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Egypt, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Genre-bender, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Romance, Magical Realism, Modern Day, Neurosciences | Neurogenetics, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Passionate Researcher, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Realistic Fiction, Reincarnation, Romantic Suspense, Science Fantasy, Star-Crossed Lovers, Time Travel, Time Travel Romance, Unrequited Eternal Love, Vulgarity in Literature, Writing Style & Voice

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