Remember the bit in Fifty First Dates with Ten Second Tom? Well, that’s poor old Flora. Okay. maybe she doesn’t lose her memory after ten seconds - it’s more like a few hours - but she still can’t have a normal life. She relies on her parents for a lot, her best friend for more and her raft of post-it notes to remind herself who she is and where she’s going.
Despite Flora being pretty repetitive at times (as you would be if you had no short-term memory) I actually really liked her. She was quite soft and drifty but with a steel core. She really knew what she wanted and had evolved to live her life in spite of her condition. Her story rattles along quite well, again despite Flora’s repetitive inner monologue.
So I have a confession to make. I’ve actually read a few of Emily Barr’s other books - her adult contemporaries. In fact, that’s what drew me to this one - I really enjoyed them. I have, however, noticed a bit of a theme. Girl going through Bad Life Stuff decides to go travelling and in doing so finds that her problems travel with her but that she also discovers more about herself.
So yes, they’re a bit formulaic, but good fun nevertheless. They also read really well as travelogues - Emily Barr was a travel writer for The Guardian and has a really keen eye for recreating the countries she’s visited. In equal parts I now really want to visit north Norway and also feel like I don’t need to after reading Flora Banks.
However, the thing is with her adult contemporaries there’s usually quite a dark undercurrent which was sadly missing here. Flora is more sad than dark and I really think this story would have been better with more creepiness in it. Because there were so many ways the plot could have gone with a protagonist who can’t remember anything and whose parents are stiflingly protective. Flora could have found her memories gradually start to trickle back only to discover that she was a murderer, an abuse survivor, an escapee from a government facility, a kidnapee ... Anything!
I’m not saying this is a bad book - it’s really not. I just feel that, having read Emily Barr’s previous books, it had the potential to be a lot more thrilling.
I’d still recommend this book. It was a decent read and I’m glad I picked it up.
I was sent a copy of The One Memory of Flora Banks in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley