The Map of Lost Memories
Fay’s debut novel begins in Shanghai in 1925, the second part takes place in Saigon, and the third is set in Cambodia. Irene Blum, expert on the civilization of the Khmer, is denied the position she expects in a museum in Seattle because she is a woman. Desperate to leave her mark on the world of museums and artifacts, she decides to travel abroad to find the ten lost copper scrolls describing the history of the Khmer.
We expect a female Indiana Jones and an expedition filled with adventure and excitement, but while there are exciting moments, the focus is more on character, and the whole expedition is more of a journey of self-discovery. Irene searches out another expert on the Khmer, Simone, to assist her, so helping her escape her abusive husband. Much of the book focuses on the relationship between the two women and examines their different motivations. Is the intention to restore lost history to the forgotten civilization or is it self-aggrandisement and building of a reputation? This is a key theme of the novel, explored in some depth. An intriguing read that takes different paths to those expected. Recommended.