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The Memory Thief

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  3,984 ratings  ·  528 reviews
In Emily Colin’s exquisite debut novel, perfect for the fans of Kristin Hannah, one man’s vow to his wife sparks a remarkable journey that tests the pull of memory and reaffirms the bonds of love.
Before Madeleine Kimble’s mountaineer husband, Aidan, climbs Mount McKinley’s south face, he makes her a solemn vow: I will come back to you. But late one night, Maddie gets th
ebook, 448 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Ballantine Books
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May 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sigh. Big sigh. The premise of this book sounded so interesting - Aidan, the husband of Maddie and father of Gabe, dies in a mountain climbing accident but is somehow able to usurp the mind of Nicholas, the victim of a motorcycle accident that occurred the same day as Aidan's death. That all sounds great. But the execution was pretty terrible. Some spoilers ahead.

First of all, the dialogue. No one talks like these people. All of the conversations felt so stilted! And Gabe? He's supposed to be 4
Anne OK
Sep 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
Emily Colin’s debut novel is gripping, hauntingly beautiful, and thought-provoking in its other-worldly feel. The research demonstrates the time and effort this author has expended in getting the details right and in presenting the challenges, risks, and perseverance of mountain climbing. In addition to a storyline that delivers an abstract vision, the characters are interesting and well-defined. The Memory Thief shows us that love can bring both pleasure and pain, yet when both of those are gon ...more
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"Listen," he says. "I swear I'll come back to you, all right? I promise I will come home."

Madeleine (Maddie) is married to Aidan and they have a young son, Gabriel. Aidan is a mountain climber, but dies in an accident on Mt McKinley. On the same day, Nicholas has a motorbike accident and wakes up in hospital with no memories of his own, but he can remember Maddie and a mountain-climbing accident.

This is more women's fiction than romance, but it does contain romance. A lot of romance actually, as
Ally Blue
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The premise of this book intrigued me, and I'm glad I read it. The use of tense, point of view and language was quite unusual and something not every reader will like, but I loved it. LOVED it. The writing was lyrical and lovely, and characters felt real to me. I did have a few nits, so my true star rating would be more like 4.5, but to me the nits were minor. Example: I found the character of Aiden not that likable. I didn't see what Maddie saw in him. If it were me, I probably would've never m ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves lots of conversation in their romance
4.5 Were I to describe the plot (woman loves mountain climber, and later, his best friend) - there's nothing there - air!
Yet somehow, there's so much more. Huge themes, moral questions, enormous feeling. Literature. Ultimately, it's uplifting and restorative. Between the protracted conversations full of sexual tension (straight out of the romance genre), and the frequent, but tame, sex scenes (ditto), there is meaning. It grabbed me for the entire distance, and after I put it down and looked ba
I want a sequel.

Strong words when I've only granted it three stars -- but I was gripped by this (surprised me, too.) -- and by the end, I was sort of furious about what actually happened.

SO! Aidan (mountain climber) is married to Madeline (writer), with child in tow. They are a great big smooshy nest of love, but in a realistic way. If you happen to be a beautiful and woman with no need for a job who is married to a beautiful and rugged adrenaline junkie who loves poetry.
Which I am.
So it fit i
Aug 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vonnegut once said that every character should want something. Aiden James wants to get back to his wife and son, but he died on the cold, unforgiving slope of a mountain. Nicholas Sullivan doesn’t know what he wants. He’s got amnesia, and nothing about his life is familiar or comforting except the strange dreams he’s been having of a mysterious woman and her son, and of falling down a mountain he knows he’s never seen.

And so Emily Colin’s debut novel, The Memory Thief, lives up to Vonnegut’s re
I think this book was over for me when the protagonist sleeps with her dead husband's best friend the day after his funeral.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Oh where to begin. There were parts of this book I really liked--the characters were well developed, the plot was interesting. A woman (Maddie) loses her husband (Aidan) in a mountain climbing accident and a stranger across the country (Nicholas) starts having memories of Aidan. The other main characters, JC, Aidan's best-friend and Gabriel, Maddie and Aidan's four year old son, were my two favorite characters. The story is told in alternating point of view, between Maddie, Aidan and Nicholas. I ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I suppose anything this short that takes 13 days to read should automatically get one star. I mean, otherwise I would have plowed through it right? I just could not make myself sit and keep reading this. It's honestly a wonder I finished. It just didn't make sense. I get that it was trying to be mystical or whatever, but at least give Aidan and Nick a connection. I kept waiting for them to "reveal" that Nick was Aidan's half brother. They had the same eyes, Gabe's eyes...UGH WHY didn't she take ...more
Sep 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat surprised by the rave reviews. It was an intriguing premise and an interesting read, but I didn't really care for half of the characters. I found Maddie was very undeveloped as a character and I never quite figured out why these men were so in love with her. And JC? I found him a little creepy.

And what the heck does the cover have to do with the book? lol
Apr 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
*Spoiler Alert* Have you ever read a review of a novel...and the premise is interesting and you pick it up, start reading it and discover that the author totally wasted the interesting premise? This is what happened in this book. After finishing the book Afterwife a couple of weeks ago, I discovered this book and decided to stick with the my-spouse-died-and-is-now-a-friendly-ghost theme. Maddie's husband is a mountain climber so, of course, he dies in an avalanche but his spirit ...more
Jul 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that I think everyone should read.
A story of love, loss and promises kept.
Maddie and Aiden are deeply in love. Aiden is the adventureous type, always planning or going mountain climbing. He leaves on his next climb with the words "- I will come back to you Maddie. Trust me!". But then disaster strikes. Maddie gets the dreaded phone call in the middle of the night. Aiden has fallen, they can't find him. At the same time, Nicholas wakes from a coma after having been in a motorcycle accide
Kim Tomasic
Mar 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful read and I will look for more from this author. This was a tear jerker at the end for me. I knew the love story between Aiden & Madeleine was going to be good from the start, I just didn't know how wrapped up in it I was going to get. It broke my heart when she begged him not leave her and their son Gabe for the mountain, and then Gabe's dream and the phone called that ended it all. I loved the character development, the love triangle with J.C. and Nicholas's attempt to shut off ...more
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This first novel of Emily Colin caught my attention when I read a review in the Star-News of Wilmington, North Carolina. She is a local author, and based part of the book here.

While I was reading this story, I jotted down words that ran through my head when I would take a break from reading. They were: intriguing, addicting and heartbreaking. This novel stretches your imagination to impossible limits. You can feel the bite of the ice and snow, and exhilaration of being at the peak of an impo
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers.

I chose this book because the premise intrigued me. As I started reading, I discovered that each chapter is written from a different character's perspective. This is a style utilized by some of my favorite authors and I like it because it enables the reader to really get to know the characters.

The settings, situations, interactions between the characters, and the characters themselves are true-to-life. The language is readable. The wi
Christy English
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What makes a human being?

What defines the contours of a soul? Memory? The loss of it? Where we put our forks in the kitchen? Who we love? How hard we fight to come back to them?

These are just a fragment of the questions I began asking myself as I read Emily Colin's debut novel, THE MEMORY THIEF. This is a novel about people who have lost themselves and the story of how they find themselves again. A tale of grief, of letting go, but most importantly, of love.

In this novel, most of what they've lo
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
In reading the reviews, I once again felt as if I read an entirely different book. Shallow, poorly developed characters. A supernatural element that had potential, but overall did very little for the story. The plot quickly went from Aidan and Maddie's story to JC and Maddie's story. I had a difficult time feeling the connection between Aidan and Maddie (thus the supernatural element failing for me), when she was in a full blown relationship with JC so soon after her husband's death. I prefer me ...more
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Weak plot device that was neither explained well enough, or developed strongly enough to be effective. If the point of the book is that a husband's spirit entered another's man body when he died so his final promise to his wife could be met, perhaps have the two characters meet before page 300 of a 400 page book. And I don't care if your husband told you he wanted you to move on if he ever died; sleeping with his best friend on the same day of his funeral is just poor taste.
Apr 15, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book, a bad soap opera in book form, is the reason that people with one good plot idea think they can write a novel -- and the reason that readers think they need drama for their lives to have meaning.
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ughhh the emotions...I typically try to avoid books like these because I end up sobbing, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love them. This one came via recommendation from my brother-in-law’s wife’s sister (confusing enough for you?) and I should have known it would be great since she is an avid reader, not to mention a high school English teacher. I really wasn’t sure where the story was going halfway through, but I am more than satisfied with the conclusion, even if it’s a little too pat. Gr ...more

This book was just what I needed. The previous book I read was quite intense and while this story had some angst, I knew there’d be a rainbow at the end of it. I just wasn’t sure how rocky the journey would be to get there. Turns out it was all worth it.
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
Partly I think the narration was distracting to me, good premise, but didn't love the execution.
A. R.
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Be ready to suspend belief if you want to read this book. And I mean really suspend it....kick it out the door. If you don't, you definitely will not enjoy this book. Even accepting that what happens in this book could happen (that's the suspension) I still wrestled with the book, and my rating.

First off, the premise was interesting. One man dies in an accident (Aiden), another loses his own memory but takes on that of the dead man (Nicholas). And all because of a promise that Aiden makes to his
Nancy Baker
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I find it ironic how we get drawn to a certain genre of storylines without a conscious effort to do so. For some unknown reason I have recently read two books that have been intertwined between the real world and the spiritual world. The first was A Sudden Light (Garth Stein) and now The Memory Thief (Emily Colin). Both have been very enjoyable stories but from total opposite spectrums. The Memory Thief is told from the perspective of three different people: Madeleine (mother, wife, fr ...more
David Morton
It was a heartwarming story with many great characters. Kind of predictable at times. Enjoyed the supernatural part, not hard to believe that at some point of our life we are let down a path buy some supernatural power that we don't quite understand and cannot explain.
Julie Barrett
Oct 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madeline Kimble is a mother and a wife in Boulder, CO. Love the story of how she met and dated her husband Aiden. He's off on another of his high climbing mountain adventures and has promised to come home, always to them.
Problem is the avalanche. Reason why I wanted to read this book is because we were traveling up the hill to Paradise at the top of Mt. Rainier in Washington state when the guards had just closed the road we were on due to an avalanche. We waited a bit of time before we could tra
Jul 23, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I've read recently about mountain climbers, and since I don't have a risky bone in my body, I am confident that these books are the closest to mountain climbing I will ever get. Still, they have been an interesting insight into what being the wife of a professional climber must be like. This debut novel by Emily Colin was terrific. It is the story of Maddie, a wife and mother, whose husband Aidan has died in an avalanche while climbing Mount McKinley in Alaska. Maddie had ...more
Aug 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a copy of this book from the publisher as a first reads giveaway.
Maddie Kimble fell in love with a climber. Six years into their marriage, he’s still seeking the rush of the next big mountain. But for some reason, she has a premonition that this time is his last. Aiden dismisses her pleadings for him not to go and promises her he will come back to her. He didn’t promise he’d be alive.
After Aiden is buried under an avalanche, Maddie struggles with what’s left: raising her four-year-ol
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 17, 2016 11:21AM  
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Emily Colin holds a BA in Psychology, with a second major in Literature/Media Studies, from Duke University, and an MS in Family Studies and Human Services, with a specialization in Youth Development, from Kansas State University. She is the Associate Director of DREAMS of Wilmington, a nationally award-winning nonprofit dedicated to building creative, committed citizens by providing youth in need ...more

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