THE MEMORY PAINTER
by Gwendolyn Womack
Published in 2015 by Picador.
Reviewed by K.L. Romo.
The Memory Painter
By Gwendolyn Womack
Have you ever looked into a person’s eyes, and felt a shock of familiarity that shouldn’t be there? Have you ever had dreams so realistic that you could swear you’d actually lived them?
In her book The Memory Painter, Gwendolyn Womack explores these odd recognitions and sense of Deja vu that we all experience from time to time. But on steroids. In this extremely epic tale, Womack weaves the timeless souls of Bryan and Linz into a historical tapestry that spans ten thousand years.
Bryan is a free spirit, now a painter who has incredible talent in painting reality. Linz is a genetic scientist, studying the brain and how memories are processed. In one seemingly coincidental moment, the two meet, and immediately know they are somehow connected. Later that night, Linz attends an art show for a gifted painter, and is shocked to see a vivid rendition of her recurring dream on canvas. And that painter is Bryan. But how did he know?
Thirty years earlier, two genetic scientists working on a treatment for Alzheimer’s created a drug that opens the mind to memories, but not those they’d expected.
I enjoyed reading The Memory Painter, and Womack’s writing style. The story was fast-paced and engaging, and the plot suspenseful, taking the reader from ancient Egypt to ancient Rome, then through the Enlightenment to the present, with many places in between. Although sometimes the historical detail was almost overwhelming, it was entertaining to flit from one era to another in the blink of an eye.
At first, I was somewhat disappointed that Bryan and Linz’s past lives were mostly prominent historical figures – what are the chances that a soul would embody so many famous people throughout history? But then I thought – why not? Maybe recurring greatness is the destiny for certain souls.
I recommend The Memory Painter to those who want to be transported, to be taken on a head-spinning ride, then left to ask the question what if?
K.L. Romo is a writer who lives with her family in Duncanville, Texas. She is currently querying agents to represent her newly-completed novel From Grace I Fall, about an empty-nester who’s suddenly transported back to 1907 Dallas, seeing the world through her prior incarnation, a reformed prostitute who is determined to seek justice for other women forced to sell their bodies. You can visit her at www.klromo.com