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The Memory Painter: A Novel

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,644 Ratings  ·  372 Reviews

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordi
Kindle Edition, 332 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Picador
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Gwendolyn Womack Bryan played a small pocket pan-flute. Here's a pan-flute website I found that has some images.

Gwendolyn Womack Thank you! I chose the lifetimes one-by-one as the story unfolded. It involved a lot of wading through history to find what would be the perfect…moreThank you! I chose the lifetimes one-by-one as the story unfolded. It involved a lot of wading through history to find what would be the perfect lifetime to remember at that particular crosspoint in time. (less)
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My purchase of Gwendolyn Womack’s The Memory Painter was something of a surprise. I mean no offense, but when push comes to shove I’m a bit of a penny pincher and rarely buy books blindly. Truth is, I’d not heard of this piece before spotting the striking yellow cover at the Historical Novel Society Conference bookstore and was entirely unfamiliar with the author. I queried a handful of my peers and while they agreed the boo
Feb 24, 2016 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Memory Painter opens to a scene within an artist’s loft. As we visualize paintings depicting a Samurai, a Persian guard, a priest of ancient Rome, and countless more unknown to us, we are introduced to Bryan Pierce, the painter, in a confused state of mind, as if he had just awaken from a dream. In fact, he had, and as he then rewinds a video recorder, we realize that he also painted the most recent portrait within a dream state.

The mystery deepens when Gwen sees the recurring nightmare that
Elizabeth Fredericks
It's a compelling premise, ultimately undercut by the flatness of the protagonists and villain alike. How these people are shaped by their careers and choices is unclear, as are their personalities. And the choices of their past lives seem to simply encompass as large a range of historical figures as possible without much consideration as to what connects them, whether they are artists, scientists, soldiers, or craftsmen. Kim Stanley Robinson's "Years of Rice and Salt" has a connecting tissue ...more
Alex Dolan
May 30, 2015 Alex Dolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The premise hooked me immediately. As the son of two painters, and a New England native (the book is set around Boston), I just tore through The Memory Painter.

At the onset, I expected a novel like Bel Canto that showcased the power of art, mixed with a love story that bounced through time like The Time Traveler’s Wife. What delights me about the story is that it defies categorization.

Author Gwendolyn Womack has crafted a book that combines a love story, science fiction, historical fiction, and
Diane S ☔
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 21, 2015 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What if there was a drug that could help you remember your past lives?
What if the lives you remember could lead to your one true love?
What if you learned, that for thousands of years, a deadly enemy has conspired to keep the two of you apart?"

That was on the back cover and it intrigued me. What if you were able to dream your past lives? In this book a man dreams them and paints them. It's a mystery to be solved because the same people occur over and over throughout their lives. The mystery is t
Mary (Marbear)
May 23, 2015 Mary (Marbear) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given a galley of this book from Picador. Finished the book last night. Amazing book. This book has everything: mystery, suspense, love, travel, etc. Very complex characters. Only a talented author could pull off the plot of this book. I think this will be one of the runaway books of 2015. Well done Gwen.
Vika aka ♔ of GIF & Grumpy Smut-ateer *P/T Freebie Fairy

“Our fates are intertwined. I will find you again and again until we build a bridge back to this life. Nothing is ever lost.”

My god it has been a while since a book had such a profound impact on me. I read a lot and constantly therefore findmyself being harder and harder to impress. However, this read has totally blew me away. I have raved to anyone who would listen about how much Iwasenjoying the book.Gwendolyn Womack is a GENIUS! The book is so thoroughly well planned and researched tha

Christina Marie

**This book was sent to me in exchange for my honest review**

I thought this was great read. Especially for a debut author. Gwendolyn Womack is a good writer. So detailed and thorough in her storytelling. I was fascinated by the premise of the book, which she describes as a "supernatural historical thriller about a group of neuroscientists who unlock the secret to reincarnation". And that's the cliff notes version of what this book is about! There is SO much to explore and learn
Why is it that books that are so mediocre it almost hurts get the most outrageous advance praise? This book was promised to be "poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning"- first off, what does dripping with meaning even MEAN, secondly, no. Just no. This book was also described as action-packed and sexy, which I can assure you it isn't.

I read this one because my mom had gotten it from the library and thought I might like it due to the Time Trave
Stephanie Ward
'The Memory Painter' is one of those books that is nearly impossible to review - at least it is for me. There are so many aspects to this novel that come together to create a beautifully crafted and unforgettable story. The plot is what drew me to the book initially - it spoke of past lives, two people who love one another and always seem to find themselves together in their several past lives, and a fascinating mystery that promised to journey across time, space, and the entire world. I wasn't ...more
Chad Malkamaki
One of the most frustrating books I've read in a long time. The plot and idea for the story is great, the execution is meh. Linz is one of the worst heroine's I've run across, supposedly a brilliant geneticist, she's an utter mess in all other aspects in life. I don't know how many times I wanted to scream at the pages about her childish decisions she makes, especially when it comes to interactions with Bryan.

Also, a book about reincarnation is most likely going to fall into the standard cliche
Alison McMahan
May 29, 2015 Alison McMahan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What are the basic premises of the reincarnation love story? I believe there are three.

First basic premise of the reincarnation love story: in every past life, the characters were not just a peasant raising pigs or even a dog or a tree, but someone historically famous. Someone’s who name is still a household name today.

The twist in this book is that as the the couple remember their different lives, they also recover the skills they earned in that life. I think Ms. Womack has just added a trope
Jul 22, 2015 Nancy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for this book and maybe in the hands of a more sophisticated writer, the plot would have worked. I personally found it unbelievable to the point of becoming cartoonish. I actually began to laugh out loud as the past lives accumulated at a dizzying rate along with the ability to speak other languages fluently and channel the ability to do anything from fix clocks to engage in high-level Buddhist meditation to play unique musical instruments to employ expert fighting techniques. ...more
Mar 20, 2015 Bethany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
Obviously targeted at lovers of Outlander and The Time Traveler's Wife, this book is a mix of fiction and sci-fi/fantasy. I almost gave up after the first fifty pages; it was entirely predictable and the characters are not sympathetic. Or believable. And the undeniable unique attraction thing gets old.

I was impressed by the last hundred or so pages, though, as the plot picked up; Womack has her MFA in screen writing and theatre, according to the inside flap, and it's very, very obvious. The plo
Julie Timmer
Dec 15, 2014 Julie Timmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to receive an Advance Reader Copy of this book and I was enthralled. It's a total page-turner, and I happily ignored everything else that was going on for the weekend (kids, husband, dog, work, etc) and finished this in two long sittings. The characters are terrific and the plot is so unique. I felt absolutely transported to each new location and time period. I'm eager to read what Ms. Womack comes up with next!
May 14, 2015 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Excellent. I won this this book on goodreads. It spans 10,000 years. It's a love story. It's about memory experiments. It's superbly plotted. You care about the characters. It doesn't get better than that. 5 stars!
Jun 13, 2015 dluvsbooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is definitely one of the most interesting books I've read this year. Full of complicated lives with a series of twists and turns on every page. Every time I thought I had figured it all out I end up surprised that I was so wrong.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
"The Memory Painter" is the story of Bryan and Linz. Bryan is a famous painter who paints incredibly vivid scenes based on incredibly vivid dreams. Linz is a brilliant scientist. Together, their relationship is more than what it seems on its face. Filled with historical detail, reincarnation, and romance, Womack offers up a very unique story line that will appeal to many different kinds of readers.

The story line of this book really stood out for me. I love historical fiction but don't often rea
Jun 11, 2015 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
“The Memory Painter” is about a guy, Bryan Pierce, who paints while sleeping; the reader is led to believe he paints while in a trance. Bryan feels such intense feelings about his paintings that he begins to feel that he has painted something from his past life: a memory from his past life. He started this at a very young age, causing his Psychiatrist Mother great alarm. Sadly, Bryan was dispatched to many juvenile psychiatric wards.

The story gets more exciting when Bryan feels that he is rememb
May 04, 2015 Cindi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I was completely absorbed by The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack. Last week was unusually busy and I had much less time to read but I couldn't wait to sneak a moment here and there to find out what was happening to Bryan and Linz as they journeyed through their memories.

The plot moves along quickly and is very intriguing. There are twists to keep the reader guessing. It's just such a unique premise that I was simply mesmerized. I love when books shock me with the sheer genius of the idea--lik
Miley the Book Junkie Reads . . .
Through the ages we have wondered if there was more to life than birth, death, nothing. What if reincarnation was in deed part of that process but we just lost our past lives? What if you remember each and every life you have lived for 10,000 years? What if the possibilities of future medical research could bring your entire past into a clear focus and you could recoup the lives you have lost? What if you could recover that one love that was everything to you? What if. . .

Bryan may just be the m
Jun 15, 2015 Trish rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa ♥ Dog Lover ♥ Martin
I would like to say thank you to the author and publisher for giving me an opportunity to read this ARC of the book.

I would liked to have given it more than three stars but it just didn't grip me like I was hoping.

I loved the premise of the book and some of the characters a lot, well, Linz and Bryan as themselves. I just couldn't get into living all of the lives they live and looking into the past. Of course, you throw in some evilness and there you go.

The way it ends leaves it wide open for
Jul 18, 2015 Aubrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: signed, july-2015
This book was a pleasant surprise as I just picked it up on a whim, without really knowing anything about it. It is a thoroughly enjoyable book about past lives that I tore through. I can't really say that I'm a believer in reincarnation but I loved the premise and the way the author ties the past into the present, a great story overall. I loved the history shared through some of the characters past lives.
Sandra Heinzman
Wow, what an adventure!

What an amazing book! It makes me wish that life is truly like this premise; that it's a big circle and we're all connected, somehow, to other past lives. It is making me wonder who is in my life for a reason because we knew each other in a past life. The author put the story together so well and made it seamless, like a woven tapestry. It is definitely in my top five books read this year. I can't wait until book club tomorrow to discuss it!
Susan James
Dec 16, 2015 Susan James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing. Complicated. Unputdownable

This page turner captured my imagination and would not let go. The story spans time and space and is perfectly told. Brilliant debut for Ms. Womack. Congratulations. Looking forward to the next one.
Sep 06, 2015 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book I liked so much that I would gladly read the next volume if it wil be created (I hope). The extraordinary adventure that takes place over many lifetimes. But the ending fo the book? It can not be the end, it is just a beginning of the story.
Aug 15, 2015 Alyson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had some issues with the book, but stayed up all night reading it; so I guess never mind the issues.
Feb 18, 2016 Lckeller rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema.

Her debut novel, THE MEMORY PAINTER, was published by Picador 4/28/15 in hardcover and 7/5/16 in paperback. The novel was a two-time American Booksellers Associati
More about Gwendolyn Womack...

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“The brain is its own galaxy, with more cells than stars in the Milky Way. The most powerful organ in the body, it rivals any supercomputer, processing 90,000 to 150,000 thoughts a day through billions of neurons and trillions of synaptic connections. Now that we have found a pathway to retrieving memories that before were inaccessible, we are perfecting its function too quickly.” 2 likes
“He painted until the hours towered above him, pressing down upon his body and begging him to stop.” 0 likes
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