The Memory of You by Catherine West: Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her? When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so. And Natalie never says no to her father.
Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her. But finding freedom from the past means facing it.
Author Catherine West does not tackle shallow topics. We discovered this when we read and reviewed her book The Things We Knew back in 2016. The Memory of You is no different. I usually don’t subject myself to that much intensity in my choice of reading material or entertainment but West’s beautiful writing and use of subtle, hopeful Christian themes completely engage me. And the anticipation of finding out how things will resolve happily in the end keeps me going.
Yes, Catherine West always delivers on our required happy ending. I honestly didn’t think that she would be able to make all her characters behave in The Memory of You, but it does all work out beautifully, including some delightful romances, one of which I saw coming and one that pleasantly surprised me.
There is family drama out the wazoo, unredeemable characters redeemed and trouble and conflict galore. But West weaves each thread of the story into a complete and satisfying whole. Natalie, our main character, goes through so much pain from her sister’s death and parents’ subsequent behavior that by the end of the tale I was cheering for her happiness. Tanner, his mother, and his sister’s family each have complex issues to face. Natalie even has a long lost family member who appears and throws a new wrench into the already full stew of plots. Compellingly written, emotionally consuming, and tenderly resolved, The Memory of You is Catherine West at her finest. I wholeheartedly recommend this truly satisfying read.
The setting of The Memory of You is California’s wine country of Sonoma. Sissy and I have been there, and know that it is truly spectacular country. Catherine West brings it to life with her vivid descriptions. I could almost see, smell, and touch the lovely Maoilios winery, and I felt a longing to revisit that part of the country. Put it on our list, Sissy! (She’s in charge of lists and Coke). I loved how Tanner at first sees Natalie as the bane of his existance, then eventually realizes he can’t live without her. Readers, you will love that transformation! And Tanner’s niece and nephew are absolutely adorable. What more can I say? Catherine West has written another truly splendid family saga. May she write many, many more!