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The Memory Box

3.29  ·  Rating Details ·  455 Ratings  ·  58 Reviews
A young woman leaves a sealed memory box for her baby daughter before she dies. Years later, as a young woman herself, Catherine finds her mother's box full of unexplained, even weird objects. Finding out what the objects represent is her only chance to find out about the mother she never knew...
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 29th 2000 by Penguin Books (first published 1999)
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Mansuriah Hassan
Jul 14, 2016 Mansuriah Hassan rated it did not like it
Catherine's birth mother, Susannah died when she was just a young baby, leaving her with no memories of her at all. Her father remarries shortly afterwards and Catherine is only too happy to accept this new woman into her life as the only mother she will ever need. Throughout her childhood she manages to block out all references to Susannah and refuses to hear of any traits they may have in common when family members speak of her.

It is only years later when she stumbles across a box of objects S
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 07, 2010 Kirsty Darbyshire rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book

This is the first of Margaret Forster's books that I've tried reading; and it won't be the last.

Susannah died when her daughter Catherine was just six months old, but Catherine grows up happily with her father's second wife becoming her Mummy and never wants to find out about Susannah. However when Susannah knew she was dying she assembled a "memory box" for her baby daughter. Finally opening the box as an adult, having ignored it for years, Catherine tries to piece together this jigsaw of a leg

Jun 19, 2015 Roberta rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, uk
Margaret Forster mi ha incuriosito molto grazie a questo blog, che ne parla molto anche se non c'è una recensione di The Memory Box. La trama di questo romanzo è molto interessante: la protagonista, Catherine, si ritrova costretta ad affrontare il ricordo della madre Susannah, morta quando lei aveva pochi mesi, grazie ad una scatola dei ricordi che quest'ultima aveva preparato negli ultimi mesi di vita, e che Catherine si era sempre rifiutata di vedere, preferendo considerare la matrigna Charlot ...more
Feb 27, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok
I was hoping that Catherine would discover something huge about Susanna. In this case I was totally disappointed. I do not fancy people who seem to enjoy wallowing in their unhappy states, and clearly Catherine is one of such. she cuts off people who try to reach out to her (admits she has no friends to speak of, ignoring them till they take the hint and leave her alone), Edging out Tony, who clearly loves her, then digging deep into her to find fault with Charlotte, who she describes as having ...more
Mar 09, 2016 Lynn rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book, so well written.
Apr 19, 2015 Veronica rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Oh dear, another disappointment picked up in the second-hand bookshop. This mines the same family history vein as several of Forster's other novels, but with a twist. Catherine's mother died when she was only six months old, and she was brought up by her father's second wife, whom she sees as her true mother. She resents attempts by her family to evoke the perfect, beautiful and talented mother that she never knew, but after the death of her parents when she is 31, she discovers a "memory box" l ...more
Theodora Gotsis
This is the first Margaret Forster book I have come across and I have to admit that I was intrigued by the title immediately. The idea of stumbling across a box full of memories made for you from a mother who was near to death in your infancy works well as a hook. This is what Catherine Musgrave has to investigate after opening the box at 31. So she goes through the 11 items and tries to find logic behind them. What would they have meant to a mother she never knew. Will this hunt risk sullying t ...more
Jan 07, 2015 Ange rated it liked it
Margaret Forster is one of my favourite authors and "The memory box" seemed to have all the right ingredients for a gripping tale, however I found it slightly underwhelming. I think the main character, Catherine, was the problem. She wasn't at all compelled to unravel the mystery of her Mother's memory box, so it didn't quite make sense to me that she travelled all over the country to do so. Her heart wasn't in it at all, and actually she seemed fairly disinterested in everything, including frie ...more
Nov 21, 2015 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I discovered author Margaret Forster when I swapped for this book at our Lumburn Court campsite near Tavistock. The Memory Box was in a book box in the shower room!

I was interested to see how Forster would develop her premise of a woman discovering her lost mother some thirty years later, through the contents of a gaudy hat box. Catherine's mother, Susannah, died when she was just six months old. Her father remarried and Catherine had always rejected the idea of her birth mother, instead insisti
K.B. Walker
Jan 27, 2016 K.B. Walker rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating book, beautifully written. The mother who knew she would die before her child could know her and anticipating the saintly pedestal she would be placed upon after death, created an intriguing memory box for her daughter. The collection of numbered objects, with no letter of explanation, enables the young woman to discover a more realistic understanding of her mother and also herself without any pressure. As Catherine's partner on this journey, I could appreciate her relucta ...more
Heidi Db
Jun 02, 2013 Heidi Db rated it it was ok
Another book passed on to me, this time by my mother whom said I must read it if I enjoyed SJ Watson's "Before I Go To Sleep". A slim book of a short but complex and quite a boring tale. It could be better written in parts, as the storyline did drag on, it was just the secrecy of what was in that dam box that kept me there until the end. Basically Catherine is 6 months old when her mother dies of an undiscussed cause. Laboriously it runs through each item that her mother places in a keepsake box ...more
Dec 27, 2012 Janey rated it really liked it
Well, it being Christmas, and Crime and Punishment lined up to read next (glaring at me from the bookshelf, like an unfinished essay with a deadline looming), I picked this up to re-read...

I'd forgotten how good Margaret Forster is; although mentally filed as chick-lit, this character-study is far from..

The premise is simple enough: Catherine's mother died when her baby was only six months, Her father remarried very quickly and Catherine never missed her or mourned her. In fact, at 31, she has s
Mar 27, 2016 Linda rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016-books-read
So disappointed! The title and premise of the story led me to believe I was in for a great story, but it was so difficult to keep reading as the story seemed to go nowhere. I wanted to care about the woman who lost her mother when only six months old, and the mother who left a box of "memories" for her daughter, but it just didn't happen. I kept reading to see what the answers were, but it just didn't pay off.
Jane Taylor
Jul 16, 2014 Jane Taylor rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jane by: Reading Club Book
Not what I thought it would be - the beginning of the book was a surprise and set the tone for the rest of it. I expected a 'chick lit' type book but it was definitely more meaty than that. Catherine was a difficult person to like but once I was into the book I didn't want to put it down. Quite like that the story was left open to evolve and use your own imagination to complete it.
Jul 03, 2014 Schopflin rated it liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2014
I always enjoy Forster's darkly crafted examinations of family life and difficult, opinionated narrators. My caveat here us that the protagonist is at 30 far more independently-minded than I could have imagined being at that age. But I like her refusal to make her narrators too likeable. A much underrated writer.
Apr 19, 2007 Cazzie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 31 year old woman finds a box in her late farther's attic, left for her by her Mother who died when she was six months old. Inside the box are a series of seemingly meaningless objects, with no explanation note or message. The main character Catherine has never been curious about her birth-mother before, she had a wonderfully loving relationship with her step-mother, and it's only now after her step-mother, farther and grandmother are dead that she decides she wants to get to know the woman wh ...more
Not sure this is my edition. This book had been stored for a while - I don't remember where I got it, but now checking I see it was a bookray and I was the last in line. An interesting book although the main character irritated me quite a bit.
May 22, 2016 Debi rated it it was ok
Found this book really hard to get into. Skimmed the pages very quickly not really reading full
pages, only the parts I was interested in. Did not keep my attention at all. Found story line for the most part to be quite boring.
Kate Allen
Jan 19, 2015 Kate Allen rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2015
Fascinating story, occasional amazing coincidences but storyline pulls you in. Read in 24 hrs . Certainly challenges your thinking about attitudes to people and perceptions of others.
Sharon Albanese
Jan 19, 2014 Sharon Albanese rated it it was ok
The idea of this book was great- a mother who knows she won't live long enough to see her daughter grow up leaves her a group of objects. It should have been a really good book. The problem was that I didn't like the main character. She was brittle, negative and for some reason had an aversion to anything to do with her dead mother. I just couldn't care about this character and that spoilt the book for me.
Kathy Shuker
To start with I really enjoyed this novel; it is an intriguing premise. But I'm afraid my interest became patchy thereafter and I particularly struggled to engage with the characters. On the whole I think I would rate it 3.5/5.
Apr 06, 2014 Caroline rated it liked it
Wasn't overwhelmed by this novel and thought the box would be much more exciting than it proved to be. It really came down to quite a bit of guess work on the part of the narrator Catherine as to why her birth Mother had left the items she did, which seemed a bit silly when clearly the Author knew why the mother had left what she left. It was nice that she cared more for her birth mother when she had finished researching the contents than she had from the beginning of the story but again I felt ...more
Cris Haley
Jan 21, 2014 Cris Haley rated it it was ok
Found this to be a tedious read, never quite got much out of it. It's unfortunate, since the story idea really drew me in. Enjoyed the characters, but too bad this book never quite hit its mark with me; kind of blah- now forcing myself to read the last few pages and am not expecting much.
Jul 30, 2011 Rachel rated it it was ok
This was a book I really looked forward to as I've read and enjoyed several of the Forster's others (Diary of an Ordinary Woman I can really recommend.) It was a big disappointment in the main. I found it dull and put it down inbetween reading several books. I did not connect with the main character(s) and was not really bothered if they resolved their issues or not. Rory was the least sympathetic/likeable though I suppose Forster might be trying to say something about mothers,their relationship ...more
Aug 15, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
A strange book. A sort of intriguing ramble occurs as a young woman expresses her thoughts concerning a ‘memory box’ which was left to her by her mother who died when she was six months old. An interesting journey occurs as the young woman finds out about the mother she has never known and herself, and the connection the two share as mother and daughter. Gripping in a sense that you want to find out the mysteries that have been left behind, but disappointing that the intensity of the secrets is ...more
Irina T
Feb 18, 2016 Irina T rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb reading!
Sep 02, 2009 Josie rated it it was ok
Blah. Was there anything memorable about this book? The MC/narrator once describes her thought processes as "mundane ramblings" -- which pretty much sums up the entire book. She waffles on about this memory box and what it might mean but since anyone who might know is now dead, she never concludes anything for certain. And it's really hard to relate to a woman who is so rich and carefree that she can travel to a Caribbean island on a whim and stay there for a month, no problem.
Jan 02, 2011 Margaret rated it it was ok
It sounds like a good idea, finding a box from your dead mother. But somehow it never got very interesting, just a lot of introspective thoughts. I found the main character hard to like. It would have been a better book perhaps if the reader was made sympathetic to her. I kept waiting for the book to surprise me, to give a good ending, but sadly it didn't.
I found this a damp squib of a novel with a narrator who seemed a selfish, immature young woman who just meandered through her narration. I kept expecting something to happen but it didn't. The back blurb made it sound a lot more promising that it was.

It wasn't a book that any in the group hated - it just didn't impress any apart one member.
Feb 20, 2014 Diana rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book more than i thought i would, after reading reviews that said it goes nowhere and then just stops. I found the story interesting and the characters likeable. I suppose it puts you in the how would i feel in her shoes situation.
Glad i read it but i'll now pass it on.
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Margaret Forster was educated at the Carlisle and County High School for Girls. From here she won an Open Scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford where in 1960 she was awarded an honours degree in History.

From 1963 Margaret Forster worked as a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, to Radio 4 and various newpapers and magazin
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“I don't like taking from anyone. I'd rather be a giver, though not for any worthy reason. It's about control, obviously. If I give, I control; if I take, I am controlled. If someone offers me something for free I am at once suspicious.” 15 likes
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