Extremely delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for WHAT WAS LOST by JEAN LEVY. My thanks to the author and publisher for allowing me to be part of it all!
On my stop today will be my review of this stunning book, alongside a sneaky extract for you all to enjoy!
About the book
How would you live if you had no memories? And what if you were suspected of a terrible crime?
Sarah has no memories. She just knows she was found, near death, on a beach miles from her London home. Now she is part of a medical experiment to see whether her past can be retrieved.
But bad things seemed to have happened before she disappeared. The police are interested in her hidden memories too. A nice man she meets in the supermarket appears to have her best interests at heart. He seems to understand her – almost as if he knows her…
As she fights to regain her memories and her sense of self, it is clear that people are hiding things from her. Who are they protecting? Does Sarah really want the truth?
Published by The Dome Press
Author social media link @JeanELevy
Amazon UK £8.99
Episode Two (cont’d)
I stared at the apple resting against my shoe. It was probably a too-red Bramley, perhaps a too-green Gala. I can’t remember now. But I do remember that, even after everything that had happened, everything I had lost, I could still remember the names of apples. And I could still remember Granny Clark’s stories: how apples came to be called this or that. Barnaby Smith’s old grandma used to hide those hard green apples in a box under her bed so that the night fairies would never find them. Annabel Bramley had been disappointed that only one of her apple pips germinated although she wasn’t to know that trees from that one tiny seedling would one day provide fruit for the best apple pies in the world. I was writing all those stories into picture books. Doing the illustrations myself. In fact, I’d been thinking about Orange Pippins that very morning. Before the black and white cat had purred in through the flap and demanded tuna.
I stopped to retrieve the unsolicited fruit, lifted it to my nose and was briefly overwhelmed by a memory of pumpkins and autumn sunshine. I read the name on the round, sticky label. Was Braeburn in Scotland? Perhaps that was something I once knew.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t aim that at you!’
I looked up. He was smiling. The man who had not aimed the apple was smiling. He was, perhaps, early forties, tall with some very pleasing russet stubble, specked golden in the artificial light. His eyes were green: not apple green, more pastel green, like husky eyes made white by the snow. I offered him the apple. ‘It seems OK,’ I said. I really liked the colour of his eyes. Mine are just brown, like most other eyes. ‘But you ought to put it back. In case it’s bruised.’
‘Then someone else might finish up with a bruised apple.’
I felt myself smiling. That in itself was brave of me. ‘Shall I put it back for you?’
He made a display of coming to a decision. His smile disappeared. But the tiny creases beside his eyes didn’t. ‘No, never get anybody else to do your dirty work. I’ll take it to a member of staff and explain.’
‘They’ll put it back when you’re not looking.’ I was amazing at my own boldness.
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but at least my conscience will be clear.’ He took the apple, hovered momentarily, then his face broke into a broad smile. ‘See ya!’
I watched him return to his trolley, replete with vegetables, grabbed a grapefruit I didn’t want, pulled off my scrunchie and reorganised it, then hurried away towards canned fish, where I loaded a dozen small tins of line-caught tuna in spring water into my trolley, before collecting two bags of cat biscuits and wheeling on towards the checkouts. Did tuna live in spring water? I couldn’t remember. I joined the nearest queue and thought about Orange Pippins, remembering what Granny Clark used to say: if they rattle they’re ripe. I could remember her holding those yellow-red apples to my ear and shaking them. I could remember them rattling. I could remember back then.
‘Fancy a coffee?’
I spun round. ‘What?’
‘Coffee, do you fancy a coffee?’ The apple man. He as right behind me in the queue.
I caught my breath, recovered. ‘I have to get back. I’m writing a book. For children.’ I noticed a slight flicker of awkwardness in his pastel-green eyes. ‘But thanks, if I didn’t have to… Do you come here often?’
‘He laughed away the awkwardness. ‘Excellent line! You’re clearly a world-class author.’ He took a very obvious deep breath. ‘Mostly Thursdays. Occasionally Saturdays. Not usually as early as this. The name’s Parry. Matthew Parry.’ He offered his hand.
‘Can I help?’ The checkout operative sliced through our conversation.
‘Oh, sorry,’ I said and hurried four tins on to the conveyor belt.
‘Do you need help?’ He lifted two tins and my box of cornflakes and aimed them at the till. ‘Are the cornflakes for you or your cat? I presume you have a cat.’ He scooped up the cat biscuits. ‘Either that or you have a strange taste in biscuits.’
I forced myself to smile and quickly transferred the rest of my shopping before he could offer further assistance, pushed my trolley past the checkout and hurried everything into my bag, handed the woman my credit card, punched in the number that was written across my wallet, glanced towards the exit and waited.
‘I’d like you to have this as a deposit.’ Again I was forced to look round. I was being offered a familiar red and green apple. The shop assistant tutted. He addressed her directly. ‘It’s weighed and included in the price.’ He demonstrated the sticker on his bag of other red and green apples. ‘Do you want to check it?’
The assistant rolled her eyes and ripped my receipt from the till. ‘Next!’ she instructed the conveyor belt, which was already filling with vegetables.
I accepted the apple, surprised at my lack of embarrassment. Perhaps I’d forgotten how to feel embarrassed. He continued to unload his shopping. ‘Perhaps this Saturday? Same time, same place?’
I popped the apple into my bag and said nothing – which was pretty much a reflection of what was inside my head – left the supermarket in a blur and drove home, wondering who he was, what he did, where he lived. What he would think if he knew.
I pulled into the residents’ parking zone, parked in my allocated space, being careful not to reverse into the builder’s skip that was occupying the two visitor parking spaces, hauled my shopping off the passenger seat and stepped out of my car. The black and white cat emerged from under a nearby van, rubbed past the back wheel of my dilapidated Escort and threw its ear against my leg. I hurried inside. The cat knew not to follow.
Secure in my kitchen, I pulled a tin of tuna from my bag and emptied its contents onto a clean plate. I glanced up as a familiar black and white head purred through the flap, watched as the indifferent animal lapped systematically around the outside of the tuna flesh, savouring the spring water, before attacking the main course. The purring intensified. I washed my hands thoroughly then emptied my shopping onto the work surface, snatched up the apple as it rolled away and tried to remember whether apples ought to be kept in the fridge. It didn’t look as if it did. So I put it in the fruit bowl with the grapefruit and bananas. I stacked the rest of the tins and the cat biscuits into the cupboard under the sink and then returned to the small box of cornflakes, carried it over to the cereal cupboard, and took a deep breath before opening the door and inserting the fresh box alongside all the other identical boxes arranged two deep on all three shelves of the cupboard.
Why are books that mess with your mind so wonderful to read?! I found this story to be so compulsive and intriguing that it was really difficult to switch off from! ‘Just one more chapter’ become my mantra while reading this!
Sarah is a successful author and is found unconscious, bloodied and frozen on a beach miles from home with no memory of how or why she is there! Her story then becomes a battle to try and recover the lost memories alongside trying to hold on to the memories she has left. And the more that is revealed about her story, then the more you know there’s a lot of darkness in her past – plenty to keep the reader trying to second guess where the story will go next. There are so many red flags throughout that i just kept trying to work out if certain bits of information were important or not!
The police are suspicious about Sarah – is she claiming memory loss to throw them off track about something bigger, or is she genuine and if so what happened to her! She is introduced to people from her past and she struggles to build bonds with some of these people and others she trusts implicitly. Even photos from her past are kept back from her by her Doctors’ as they fear this could be too much of a trigger for her and you just put yourself in her position and wonder how you would react in such a situation. Wondering who to trust and what was being kept from you must be terrifying!
This was a truly thrilling read that I devoured and an astonishing debut from the author.