The Map of Lost Memories by Kim Fay; page count 336.
This debut novel by Kim Fay follows an Irene Blum as she goes from under-appreciated assistant to the museum curator to an adventuress. Set in the 1920s, Irene is passed up for the position of curator when her longtime boss steps down. She is handed a diary from her mentor and father figure which points the way to a discovery of the ages: the lost history of the Khmer people in Cambodia. Quickly, Irene sets off to retrieve the scrolls and bring them back to win herself a place as director of a museum.
This was very impressive for a first novel. However, I’m still going to have to rate this “OK.” Like most first attempts, there seemed to be a lot of long-winded exposition and flowery descriptions, but despite some of the more laborious passages, the writing was generally good. I enjoyed the female characters, but I was a bit disheartened that neither of them mentioned any historic significance of the plight of women in 1920s despite being surrounded by it and frequently reminded of it. There were also a lot of coincidences and ever-so-convenient occurrences in the novel. I mean, a lot.
I do have two major points of contention:
- The first 2/3 of the book is much better than the last third. I think because by the time you get to the last third you realize how this is all going to play out and it seems like it is just dragging to get to the inevitable conclusion.
- The romantic leads just sort of magically fell in together. It wasn’t exactly love at first sight, more like comfort at first sight, and it was not very believable. The man is a widower, and I have a really hard time being convinced that a man who lost his first wife and presumably had several love affairs in between would just automatically fall for and do anything for a woman he has known a total of 3 hours give or take.
Basically, if you read the description and think you might like it, I say go for it, but maybe get it from the library or wait for paperback. It’s certainly not worth a venture into new territory. On the other hand, I’ve read much worse, and I did finish the book.
*”meh” as in that sound you make when something is only alright.