The Memory Weaver

The Memory WeaverThe Memory Weaver by Jane Kirkpatrick
Genres: Historical
Published by Revell on September 1, 2015
Pages: 336
Also by this author: This Road We Traveled

 

About The Memory Weaver (from the back cover):
Eliza Spalding Warren was just a child when she was taken hostage by the Cayuse Indians during a massacre in 1847. Now the young mother of two children, Eliza faces a different kind of dislocation; her impulsive husband wants them to make a new start in another territory, which will mean leaving her beloved home and her departed mother’s grave–and returning to the land of her captivity. Eliza longs to know how her mother, an early missionary to the Nez Perce Indians, dealt with the challenges of life with a sometimes difficult husband and with her daughter’s captivity.

When Eliza is finally given her mother’s diary, she is stunned to find that her own memories are not necessarily the whole story of what happened. Can she lay the dark past to rest and move on? Or will her childhood memories always hold her hostage?

Based on true events, The Memory Weaver is New York Times bestselling author Jane Kirkpatrick’s latest literary journey into the past, where threads of western landscapes, family, and faith weave a tapestry of hope inside every pioneering woman’s heart. Readers will find themselves swept up in this emotional story of the memories that entangle us and the healing that awaits us when we bravely unravel the threads of the past.

Despite the fact that Jane Kirkpatrick is a prolific inspirational historical fiction author, The Memory Weaver is my first read by her. After finishing this novel, I can easily see why she is a favorite in the genre, and I’m glad to have finally read one of her books.  The first person narration, realistic historical detail and thought-provoking plot kept me engaged throughout the story. There are a lot of interesting details about daily pioneer life – I do not envy those homesteading in the 1850’s. I don’t often read many stories set during pioneer days, but the historical detail here was fascinating.

Eliza Warren is an intriguing character. Although at times I didn’t agree with her choices, I could always empathize and understand why she made certain choices.

Eliza Warren is an intriguing character. Although at times I didn’t agree with her choices, I could always empathize and understand why she made certain choices. Many of them also fit with the time period of the story. Women had few options at times, and though I am no historian, I have read stories both fiction and non-fiction where women are bound by the whims and wishes of their father and then later their husband. Eliza did have a certain amount of autonomy that many woman of the time most likely didn’t have, and that certainly adds an intriguing aspect to her character. There isn’t a lot of fast-paced action, but rather it focuses on Eliza life as a wife and mother, trying to come to terms with her past and let go of her worries of the future.

Throughout Eliza’s narrative, there are also section of the journal of her mother, also named Eliza. The journal fills in some of the gaps of events that took place when Eliza the daughter was young and even before she was born, that help the reader understand the life she lived as a young child with her missionary parents. She still suffers from the traumatic flashbacks of a massacre that occurred at the settlement where her family lived and ministered to the Nez Perce. As Eliza begins reading her mother’s own account and feelings after the tragedy, she realizes the faulty nature of her own memory.

This story brings up thought-provoking questions about how well a person can trust their memory, especially memories from childhood, and how each person has a different memory of the same event.

This story brings up thought-provoking questions about how well a person can trust their memory, especially memories from childhood, and how each person has a different memory of the same event. My favorite part of this story is without a doubt the strides that Eliza makes as she comes to terms with new memories that have surfaced, along with confronting people from her past, who fill in gaps and bring revelation to the things that she had misinterpreted as a child. As shaped as she was by these traumatic events, she comes to realize that she can undo the harm that the false memories have done and create a new story, a true story.

With a character-driven plot, thorough historical details, and a strong faith message, I can easily recommend The Memory Weaver to readers who enjoy historical, inspirational fiction.

Reader should not expect a romance here, but rather a realistic look at a marriage that might not have been the best match to begin with. At the time they meet, Eliza sees Henry as more of an escape – and though he might be charming, it’s a hard lesson that charm doesn’t mean much when things are tough. Though there were many times these characters frustrated me, I do feel that their interactions are genuine and realistic of how such a marriage might have been.

The Memory Weaver is a more layered tale about an often-times hard life, as well as the complex inner-life of Eliza. In the Author’s Notes, Jane touches on how she hopes this story allows those shaped by tragic events to understand they are not alone, and no words can better sum up what she did in the telling of Eliza’s story: “I’d like to add the power of story and grace are also avenues to peace.” A traumatic event shaped the story of Eliza’s life, but she finds peace when she allows herself to accept the grace that the true, weaved-together memories provide. With a character-driven plot, thorough historical details, and a strong faith message, I can easily recommend The Memory Weaver to readers who enjoy historical, inspirational fiction.

–Beth


Jane Kirkpatrick’s newest novel is truly everything that makes historical fiction such a wonderful genre.  Carefully researched and based on multiple accounts of true events, the book examines the life of Eliza Spalding – daughter of some of the earliest missionaries to the Nez Perce, survivor of a horrific attack that left 13 other people brutally murdered, and the first white child born in the Oregon Territory to survive.

Kirkpatrick casts a fictional eye at Eliza’s life and creatively fills in several gaps.

Fret not, though! The Memory Weaver may indeed be chock full of historical insight but it is certainly not a dull textbook. Kirkpatrick casts a fictional eye at Eliza’s life and creatively fills in several gaps, including (most strikingly to me) the questions left between Eliza’s account of her mother’s death in 1851 and the sentence that followed it: In 1854 I married Andrew Warren.

 This is the kind of story that makes me close the novel when I’ve read the last word, linger over it in my thoughts for a time, and then hunt down a text to find out more

Though glimpses of romance dance throughout the story, this isn’t the main focus.  Instead, readers are swept up in a life that did in fact exist and taken with her on a journey that did in fact happen and, thanks to Jane Kirkpatrick’s talented pen, we come to see Eliza and her friends and family as more than just names on a page.  She breathes, she cries, she laughs, she loves, she fears, she overcomes.  This is the kind of story that makes me close the novel when I’ve read the last word, linger over it in my thoughts for a time, and then hunt down a text to find out more – to research the Spaldings and the Whitmans and the nightmare that changed everything for them all.

Jane Kirkpatrick gives us an honest, emotional and grace-filled look inside a woman who lived – perhaps not happily ever after – but with great courage and grit and heart.

While not a light or easy read, The Memory Weaver is more than worth the investment.  It is a book that will touch your heart in unexpected ways, full of characters who will do the same.  Kirkpatrick’s writing skill peppers the book with lines that steal your breath at their poignancy, making even the most agonizing scene one of beauty and grace. The struggle of early missionaries and settlers sometimes gets lost in the romanticism of the time period, but readers won’t find that to be the case here.  Jane Kirkpatrick gives us an honest, emotional and grace-filled look inside a woman who lived – perhaps not happily ever after – but with great courage and grit and heart.

–Carrie

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