Today I’d like to welcome to the blog Judith Barrow, whose new novel ‘The Memory’ is published by Honno Press on Thursday March 19th 2020. I’ve loved Judith’s Howarth trilogy of historical family sagas, so I wanted to ask her about this new departure in her writing.
Many people have asked what was the inspiration for The Memory and my answer is always memories: memories of being a carer for two of my aunts who lived with us, memories of losing a friend in my childhood; a friend who, although at the time I didn’t realise, was a Downs’ Syndrome child. But why I actually started to write the story; a story so different from my other four books, I can’t remember. Because it was something I’d begun years ago and was based around the journal I’d kept during that decade of looking after my relatives.
But what did begin to evolve when I settled down to writing The Memory was the realisation of why I’d been so reluctant to delve too far into the manuscript. The isolation, the loneliness, that Irene Hargreaves, the protagonist, endures; despite being married to Sam, her loving husband, dragged up my own feelings of being alone so much as a child. That awareness of always being on the outside; looking in on other families, relationships and friendships had followed me; had hidden deep inside my subconscious. And, as a contented wife and mother, with steady enduring friendships, it unsettled me.
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