The souls must reenter the absolute from where they have emerged. They must develop all the perfections; the germ of which is planted in them; and if they have not fulfilled this condition during one life, they must commence another…until they have acquired the condition that fits them for reunion with God. -Kabbalah
Though I normally don’t read suspense novels, The Memorist, by M. J. Rose, intrigued me with its focus on reincarnation and the notion that a specific musical pattern could trigger memories of past lives. Despite my roots in the Christian tradition, I’ve long held a secret fascination with the idea of reincarnation. So I eagerly accepted an opportunity to participate in the TLC Book Tour for this novel, and I’m very pleased I did.
Set in Vienna, and moving back and forth in history, The Memorist revolves around the life of Meer Logan, a young woman who is haunted by fragments of memory always accompanied by the strains of an elusive melody. Her father, a member of the (fictional) Memorist Society, has always believed Meer’s memories originate in a past life experience. Until the events described in the novel, which take place over the course of a few frenzied days, Meer has refused to accept this very “unscientific” explanation for the “dreads,” as she calls them, these horrific flashes of memory which send her reeling into the dark recesses of her mind. But through a series of events which come together like a perfect storm, Meer is forced to accept that her father’s theory is true, and she begins to plumb the depths of her past life connections.
M.J. Rose has definitely done her research for this novel, research involving the city of Vienna, Jewish tradition, anti-terrorist security measures, and (most interesting to me) the concept of “binaural beats” – low frequency tones which stimulate brain wave activity and prompt past life regressions. As a musician, I was fascinated with this idea, and with the characters ongoing quest for a “magic flute” and a secret melody notated by Beethoven, which gave the novel quite a DaVinci Code-esqe flavor. When the melodic code is finally cracked, I was eager to get to my piano and try it out for myself ~ alas, I’m in Florida right now, so I’ll have to wait until I return home and see whether this melodic progression stirs any past life memories from my subconscious!
There are numerous sub-plots involved in this novel, which I imagine is characteristic of the suspense/thriller genre. I initially had a bit of trouble keeping everything straight in my mind, but about a third of the way in things began making sense and I found myself riveted to the page as the story steam-rolled to it’s exciting conclusion. Rose masterfully interweaves all the story lines until they come crashing together at the penultimate moment. She writes in short, intense chapters (111 of them!), which add to the sensation of urgency which the plot demands.
The Memorist is the second novel in what Rose plans to be a series of thrillers based on reincarnation, a subject that Rose says has fascinated her since she was a child. “The questions of who we are cannot be asked without first asking who we were,” Rose writes on her website. “And I’ve tried to answer that using my own research into reincarnation theory – as well as the tenets and writings of those who have studied and believed in reincarnation over thousands of years.” Of The Reincarnationist, the first novel in this series, Rose writes that the novel is “equal parts modern-day thriller, historical fiction and love story. With one foot in present-day Rome and New York and another in Rome some 1,600 years ago, my story is about two worlds consumed by the fires of intrigue and passion.”
The Memorist certainly sparked a renewed interest in the subject for me, and may well send me checking into the bibilography of resources Rose lists at the end of the novel. I’m also eager to read The Reincarnationist – which I will be able to do quite soon, as the publisher was kind enough to send a copy of that along as well.
If you’re looking for a multi-faceted, well written, fast paced, historical suspense novel, you’ll greatly enjoy The Memorist.
GIVEAWAY NOTE: As part of the TLC Book Tour Promotion, I’m able to offer three sets of Rose’s novels in a giveaway to Bookstack readers. For your copy of The Recincarnationist (paperback) and The Memorist (hardbound), enter a comment below. Winners will be chosen at random on Sunday, November 16, 2008.