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The Memory Painter

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  3,565 ratings  ·  620 reviews
Two lovers who have traveled across time. A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research. A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there's a secret to his success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. When Bryan awakes, he possesses extraordinary
Hardcover, 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.

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 lifet…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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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  3,565 ratings  ·  620 reviews

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Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mir by: Asghar
Shelves: memory, art
The concept in the beginning, which seemed closer to science fiction, was quite interesting. As the plot progressed I started to feel like it couldn't make sense even with suspension of disbelief, but it actually came together better than I expected, albeit slightly different than I had been thinking.

I don't usually enjoy historical flashbacks, but these functioned more like short stories, and ended up being entirely relevant to the plot.

If you would prefer a drug-free approach to recalling you
Elizabeth Fredericks
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
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 an ...more
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

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
Alex Dolan
May 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 02, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Diane S ☔
Jan 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Lenora Dinunzi
May 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Besides the historical information from Bryan's past lives, the whole reincarnation part was fascinating. The author did a fabulous job presenting the drawback to remembering past lives, and how it would impact the incarnated soul. If you believe in reincarnation, you will see how the souls take on different relationships for specific reasons. I hope this book becomes a best seller. Definitely an interesting storyline. ...more
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
Sulaf Farhat
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Seriously?! Seriously!! This has turned from such a promising, interesting premise, into the most ridiculous and juvenile "love story" I've ever come across! Two stars for the amazing premise that never came to fruition. ...more
Mary (Marbear)
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up from the library shelf because it sounded intriguing.


That sounded like my kind of book! In reality, I really don't think I am the target audience for this - it's a little too fantasy for my liking.

That doesn't stop this being an amazing first book by this author - I could really appreciate the effort put into the many, often unheard of, historical characters and t
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 find myself 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 I was enjoying the book. Gwendo

Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ryan Pierce is a reclusive, but internationally known artist. His skills and success as an artist are renown, and the images he paints comes from his dreams. His studio walls are covered in paintings to numerous to count. Each painting more vivid than the next, captures a different time in history, a different place and each depict an intimate moment in a person’s life or death. Because he can remember intricate details and feelings Brian believes these dreams may actually be flashbacks t
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf 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
Stephanie Ward
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'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
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very thought provoking book. Loved the characters. The twist is easy to see and the authors big weakness is her endings. As with her other two books the ending is wrapped up in 20 pages. But overall a great read!
Erica Clou
Because my book tastes have been adapting to the ridiculous number of books I consume, these days I'm surprised whenever I like a book that isn't literary. I liked it! It was fun! It was decently written! There were no ridiculous plot holes! It's even a book that might continue to interest me in a reread. This is a good start from Womack. ...more
Christina Marie
Jun 01, 2015 rated it liked it

**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
Chad Malkamaki
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Ghost of the Library
Within the fiction/historical fiction genre - best thing i've read in a loooooong time!
For me personally Womack hit the mark with this one and if you enjoy any of the topics i tagged this book with, get yourself a copy and join Bryan on his own - and ours - journey through life.
From ancient Egypt to modern day Boston, Womack weaved a fluid and just dam near perfect story of love, loss, war, immortality and knowledge that will make this baby very hard to put down...very hard!

What if a drug was fo
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Very interesting premise (if not truly original) with fascinating dips into history. This book reminded me of the children's chapter book series "The Magic Treehouse" by Mary Pope Osborne, in that as a reader, I was given a glimpse into moments in history that motivated me to do further research. In this book, the two protagonists have lived many past lives (none of them dull or "normal") and one remembers most of them, the other does not. They meet cute and we are then taken on an adventure as ...more
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
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. T ...more
Mar 18, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Stephanie Steinberg
Apr 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is a book about a group of scientists that develop a drug to help alzheimer patients recover their memories. For reasons unclear, the scientist's decide to try that drug themselves and discover that they can remember their past lives. And this drug continues to affect them when they are re-born into the next body. The memories are so clear that they can suddenly speak whatever language they spoke in their previous lives and have the talents they once possessed like painting or sword fightin ...more
Julie Timmer
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Susan James
Dec 16, 2015 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.
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Writer. Adventurer. Seeker of all things magical in the world. Bestselling author of THE FORTUNE TELLER and the award-winning thriller THE MEMORY PAINTER. Her latest novel, THE TIME COLLECTOR, was published by Picador USA 4/16/19. Gwendolyn lives in Los Angeles with her family. She collects kaleidoscopes and paints as a hobby.

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