The Art of Forgetting by Joanne Hall
|Book Name:||The Art of Forgetting|
|Release Date:||June 30, 2013|
Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit. There, struggling with his own memories of his father, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. Until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life, but the fate of a nation.
Before I started reading this book I was told, “You will cry at this.” Whilst that wasn’t the case for me, I can see how this story would touch the hearts of many people who may have faced the struggles and uncertainties described.
We follow Rhodri, a young boy who was found abandoned or lost as a child and was then raised by a harsh but well meaning foster father. We are quickly introduced to the fact that Rhodri has a near perfect memory and that he can recall events in exact detail. His only blank is his life before he was found in the forest, remembering snippets of his life and the love of his father. We then witness Rhodri’s voyage of discovery about his past and his emotional and sexual maturation as he joins and grows up in The King’s Third, an elite cavalry unit.
Given the title of the series I was surprised that Rhodri’s memory didn’t play more of a part, though we are treated to glimpses and suggestions of the power of this gift/curse and how it may come into play in the future instalments. It has the potential to be a powerful tool which I look forward to learning more about.
Rhodri is a very strong main character and I thoroughly enjoyed his growing up process. Hall makes him seem very real, as he has flaws and attributes and is as uncertain, as I’m sure most of us were, when it comes to learning about sex and sexuality. There were some odd moments of sexual behaviour which I didn’t feel quite fit and gave me pause, but these were rare. The rest of Rhodri’s sexual growth is handled with care and passion.
For me, the story took quite a while to really get going. It becomes a character study of Rhodri that, whilst interesting and engaging, doesn’t move the story forward as much as I would have liked. This is mainly because, when the story does move, it’s a hell of a ride. We meet demons and royalty and see both Rhodri and other characters come into their own. Morality is questioned, bravery is tested and tribulations endured.
I found some of the decisions made by these characters questionable though, and they were fairly major decisions that impacted on the story line. I felt they were there for Rhodri to react to, rather than because the story demanded it.
There are some delicious twists that I didn’t see coming, and one heart breakingly sad sequence of events that is so difficult to read, for all the right reasons. I know that it will resonate with many people and this is a very tough thing to accomplish.
Rhodri is an intriguing character with a whole host of questions to answer. His relationships are vivid and his motivations well described and understandable. His growth from young child who is bullied to what he becomes is very well handled and you truly feel empathy for him. The story is promising and, with Hall’s ability to spring a twist from nowhere, I really couldn’t say what will happen in the future.