I confess, I was initially drawn to Remember No More in part because of the synopsis, and in part due to the fact that I spent nearly four years in this part of Wales. Jan Newton does not disappoint with her writing nor with the stunningly depicted setting. This the perfect book to get lost in on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and I confess I devoured it in one sitting.
Newton’s debut novel is well crafted with a tightly knit story that twists and turns. While I thought I might have figured out “whodunit” midway through the story, she so skillfully dropped red herrings that I was fully in doubt of my detective work. This is part to her well-developed cast of characters – complex, nuanced and downright fascinating. DS Julie Kite in particular was a fascinating character – vulnerable and yet sharply professional, unsettled and sympathetic. I enjoyed watching her character develop over the course of the novel (and hope to see more of her in another book.)
Remember No More has vivid images and a strong sense of place, and the stillness of the Welsh countryside is contrasted against the noise and the pace of Manchester. Author Newton sharply captures the feeling of “otherness” that Julie Kite experiences as an outsider to the area, someone from “away”.
The plot also ties in with a heartbreaking piece of Welsh history that I quite honestly had forgotten about; in 2001, the UK’s handling of foot-and-mouth disease in literally wiped out livestock from farms in Wales as it did elsewhere in the UK. While the outbreak only lasted 221 days, it laid devastation to farmers all over the UK.
Perhaps so much of the story resonated with me because I was an outsider in this area of Wales; Kite’s struggles with the isolation and the inability to pronounce names of surrounding towns were quite familiar, but I think those not familiar with the area will enjoy the book as much as I did.
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About the Author
Jan Newton grew up in Manchester and Derbyshire, spending her formative years on the back of a pony, exploring the hills and moorland around her home. She lived and worked in London and Buckinghamshire for 19 years until moving to Wales in 2005, where she learnt to speak fluent Welsh.
Jan has won several writing competitions, including the Allen Raine Short Story competition, the WI Lady Denman cup, and the Oriel Davies Gallery competition for nature-writing. She has been published in New Welsh Review.
Come back for more as I bring you an interview with author Jan Newton!