The Memory House: A Love Story in Two Acts

Written by Jenetta James
Review by Katie Stine

In this multi-period romantic mystery, young Victorian Society miss, Kitty Cathcart, is disenchanted with her lot. Beautiful, witty, and well-off, she appears to all the world as having every advantage. Befriending her father’s new solicitor, Mr. Faraday, lately of scandal, she finds a kindred spirit with a secret as potent as her own.

In 2018, Josie is a young woman whose Oxford education seems out of place for a nanny. Yet the live-in position suits Josie’s stress-averse personality well. Needing to find a new household, she winds up in a stunningly remodeled Victorian house in Mayfair, home of “The Cathcart Affair.” As romance blossoms between Josie and her new employer, Hon. James Cavendish, Josie finds some striking coincidences between her new home and her favorite Victorian author who wrote under a pen name and mysteriously vanished. When a body is found buried in the garden, Josie is the only person with enough of the pieces to figure out whose bones are under the begonias.

The Victorian timeline is engaging and sparkling with everything a reader would expect from a romance: Kitty Cathcart is beautiful but spunky, and Faraday is intelligent enough to recognize her hidden wit. Kitty’s forced engagement to an older lord to bolster her father’s position in a long-lasting court case is odious and would push anyone to attempt escape by any means possible. Unexpectedly, I enjoyed the contemporary timeline just as much. Josie’s anxiety regarding ambition is relatable, and her ease with children feels genuine. The aloof James Cavendish is a Darcy-esque hero, always with a glass of wine on offer.

Just as Josie turns to her (fictional) Victorian author for comfort, so too, does the reader find charm and coziness in these pages. Recommended as a balm for those who need a respite from modern chaos.