The Memory of Lost Senses

Written by Judith Kinghorn
Review by Melissa Morrisey

Judith Kinghorn’s latest release, The Memory of Lost Senses, is an evocative tale about the power of memory. The year is 1911, and mysterious Countess Cora has returned to England from the continent in order to spend time with her grandson, Jack. With Cora is her longtime friend Sylvia, a novelist who plans to write Cora’s memoirs. Intrigued by what she’s heard of the Countess’ life, villager Cecily Chadwick, an aspiring novelist herself and friend of Jack’s, gets to know Cora, becoming increasingly fascinated by her remarkable tales. As Cecily’s relationship with Jack deepens, so does her interest in Cora’s life. But the Countess’ past is not necessarily as it seems, and Cecily comes to realize that there is much more to the Countess’ life than Cora is willing to impart.

One of the things I like best about this novel is the way in which the story is told. Rather than unfolding in chronological order, the narrative moves back and forth in time and is told from multiple viewpoints. The truth of Cora’s life is revealed only in bits and pieces, and the reader is never sure which of her memories are facts and which are fiction, thus ensuring the reader remains fully engaged in the story until the very end. Kinghorn’s prose is lovely, lavishly describing both the characters and the setting, which leaves the reader with a strong sense of time and place. The characters themselves are engaging and well-developed. Fans of the Kinghorn’s remarkable debut novel, The Last Summer, will surely be pleased with this second effort. For readers yet to discover Kinghorn’s novels, this book is sure to create a whole new legion of fans.