I was thrilled to meet lovely Holly Cave at a recent ‘Warming the Blood’ event and so I’m delighted to welcome her to Linda’s Book Bag today as part of the launch celebrations for her novel The Memory Chamber. Today Holly shares three very personal memories that make perfect sense when you’ve read The Memory Chamber. I am also sharing my review.
The Memory Chamber
You are going to die. You can preserve a handful of special memories for ever. Which ones would you choose?
True death is a thing of the past. Now you can spend the rest of eternity re-living your happiest memories: that first kiss, falling in love, the birth of your children, enjoyed on loop for ever and ever.
Isobel is a Heaven Architect, and she helps dying people create afterlives from these memories. So when she falls for Jarek, one of her terminal – and married – clients, she knows that while she cannot save him, she can create the most beautiful of heavens, just for him.
But when Jarek’s wife is found dead, Isobel uncovers a darker side of the world she works within, and she can trust no one with what she finds…
The Memory Chamber is a thrilling and original story which vaults the reader into a world that is terrifyingly close to our own, where we can avoid everything we fear – even death itself. But can we ever escape the truth?
Three Things I’d Like To Find In My Heaven
A Guest Post by Holly Cave
A sunny autumn day’s walk with my dog
One sunny autumn day, I was walking my dog in the fields, gathering blackberries from the hedgerows – something I’ve always taken such quiet pleasure from. Everything felt so perfect, and I thought to myself ‘this is what heaven would be like.’
By the end of that walk, I had the idea for the novel, and Isobel’s character was solidifying in my mind. So, this memory would make the cut, and in fact it features in the book, when Isobel first starts to describe her own Heaven (‘the footpaths of my Heaven are lined with blackberry bushes’) in Chapter 17.
Dancing at my wedding
I’d love to relive the emotional high I felt, spinning around the dancefloor with my new husband at our wedding. It was a few minutes of sheer joy. But I’d ask Isobel and Jess to do their best to merge two memories for me, so that I could dance with my baby son on my hip even though he wasn’t born until three years later.
The last phone conversation with my Dad
During their second meeting, Isobel tells Jarek that ‘true happiness is only cast from shadows.’ So, I would have to choose a sobering memory to help colour the joyful ones.
It might have to be the breathless phone call I made to my Dad after I first met the woman who would become my literary agent. I can clearly remember walking along Regent Street, telling him that she wanted to sign me, my excitement echoing in his own voice. I’d choose to remember that it was the last proper conversation we had, that I lost him three weeks later.
Oh Holly! What glorious memories and what an emotional final choice.
My Review of The Memory Chamber
Isobel Argent creates memories for perfect heavens for after we are dead, but she cannot know the full extent of what she is doing.
I thought The Memory Chamber was an exceptional book. I have to admit that I didn’t much enjoy the sensation of reading it because it’s so well written, so plausible and so terrifying that I read it with a knot of tension and fear in the pit of my stomach that made me feel real anxiety. It’s the potential reality of a book set in the not too far off future against an ominous threat of international war that has such impact. Holly Cave has identified our modern day fears and distilled them into a read that compels and terrifies in equal measure.
I’m not usually enamoured of futuristic narratives but The Memory Chamber was just brilliant because I could picture myself living in the London of its setting so easily. Holly Cave writes with such skill. She has a fabulous balance between pared down prose and vivid detail that conveys exactly how Isobel is behaving and feeling so that it’s like being in her mind. It was this that also made me feel very uncomfortable. I didn’t especially warm to Isobel as a character and yet I found myself almost becoming her which was a very disturbing effect of reading The Memory Chamber. I felt quite manipulated by the writing in the same way Isobel finds herself manipulated by events and other characters.
The plot is wonderfully intelligent with the science underpinning its effects and processes giving real authenticity. There’s a compelling murder mystery, but more important is the questioning of how we behave as humans, how we manipulate our own realities and of what should happen when we die. It felt quite nihilistic at times but equally left me feeling it is the life we have now, in our living present, that is so important and meaningful. The themes of truth, identity, technology and science are interwoven effortlessly so that The Memory Chamber is a book that I truly believe will resonate across several decades, not just as a cracking thriller for 2018.
A chilling and compelling book, The Memory Chamber really is ‘electric’ and I urge you to read it, but be prepared to have to question some of your fundamental beliefs and opinions.
About Holly Cave
Holly Cave was born in Devon, UK, in 1983. She has a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London. She spent four years working at the Science Museum in London. After a career break to travel the world, Holly became a freelance writer and now writes about science and technology alongside her fiction work. She lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, son and dog.
The Memory Chamber is her first novel with Quercus UK. She self-published The Generation in 2015, and also wrote a number of unpublished works with her father on his typewriter in the 1990s.
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