Monday, December 2, 2019

The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel

While at times a little far fetched, I was really sucked into this wonderful story.

Hope is in her mid-thirties, recently divorced, running her family's near bankrupt bakery and trying her best to raise an angry 12 year old, Annie.  She has also lost her mother to cancer and her beloved grandmother, Mamie, is slipping away into Alzheimer's.

In a moment of lucidity Mamie realizes that if she does not reveal the secrets of her past to her granddaughter they will be lost forever.  So she sends Hope to Paris with a list of her family members to find out what happened to them.

In Paris Hope discovers Mamie has been living a lie - though for the best of reasons.  The interesting story is how Hope tracks down what happened to Mamie's family as well as a long ago lover.

In her quest she is helped by her daughter, who becomes more supportive as she learns more of her family's past, and Gavin, a friend who would like to be more if Hope can only open up her heart again.  She is also aided by Jewish organizations in Paris and the US, Muslims in Paris, as well as an unlikely Muslim Albanian family.  Her ex-husband and ex-boyfriend (and unfriendly banker) are less supportive.  With time she also realizes that the fairy tales her grandmother has been telling her for her whole life contain more truths about her past than she realized.

While some of the story is sad - as Mamie has lost so much time, some of it is very hopeful.  Mamie is able to teach Hope and Annie about the power of love, even after decades apart.  And she also comes to appreciate the family bakery legacy more than she ever had.

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