Book Review: The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack

The Memory PainterPublication Date: July 5, 2016
Picador USA
Paperback; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250095770

Genre: Historical Fiction/Time Travel/Mystery/Romance

Finalist for the 2016 RWA Prism Awards for Best First Book & Best Time Travel/ Steampunk category. Two lovers who have travelled across time.

A team of scientists at the cutting edge of memory research.

A miracle drug that unlocks an ancient mystery.

At once a sweeping love story and a time-travelling adventure, Gwendolyn Womack’s luminous debut novel, The Memory Painter, is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Life After Life and Winter’s Tale.

Bryan Pierce is an internationally famous artist, whose paintings have dazzled the world. But there’s a secret to Bryan’s success: Every canvas is inspired by an unusually vivid dream. Bryan believes these dreams are really recollections―possibly even flashback from another life―and he has always hoped that his art will lead him to an answer. And when he meets Linz Jacobs, a neurogenticist who recognizes a recurring childhood nightmare in one Bryan’s paintings, he is convinced she holds the key.

Their meeting triggers Bryan’s most powerful dream yet―visions of a team of scientists who, on the verge of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s, died in a lab explosion decades ago. As his visions intensify, Bryan and Linz start to discern a pattern. But a deadly enemy watches their every move, and he will stop at nothing to ensure that the past stays buried.

The Memory Painter is at once a taut thriller and a deeply original love story that transcends time and space, spanning six continents and 10,000 years of history.

My thoughts:

The author has several genres running through this story and I was thrilled with the chance to review this story when it came along for a book tour. I wanted to see how the author would blend the different elements of historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, mystery and a thriller into one. Could the author pull it off? Where there too many things happening in the story? Would it confuse the reader? My biggest question throughout the story is where the author came up with the historical aspects to the story. While extraordinary and interesting, I couldn’t help wonder this and I feel this might have been a distraction for me.

The story started out strong for me and then I began to see some redundancies and got worried but I rallied on and it somewhat picked up for me. There were so many different periods that were focused on. While the story focus recurring memories of past lives, I was more interested in the actual search for answers to these memories. That aspect was highly interesting to me.

I wanted Brian and Linz personal lives to be a bit more fleshed out and the villains in the story. I wanted to really feel the danger that they were getting themselves in to.

Towards the end the author does a good job building climax but I felt there needed to be a tighter conclusion, unless the author tends for a sequel that is….

Having said this, overall I enjoyed the premise and look forward to seeing more stories by the author.

I rated this book three stars.

Stephanie M. Hopkins


“Gwendolyn Womack’s tale dazzles.” ―US Weekly (Standout Spring Novels)

“…hang on for a wild and entertaining ride around the world and through the centuries back to ancient Egypt.” ~ Library Journal, starred review

“A sweeping, mesmerizing feat of absolute magic. . . . ~ M.J. Rose, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Witch of Painted Sorrows

“Layers of past and present form a rich pastry of a narrative, poignant and thoughtful, rich and suspenseful, filled with intrigue and dripping with meaning… ~ Charlie Lovett, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Bookman’s Tale and First Impressions

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

About the Author

Copyright JennKL Photography

Copyright JennKL Photography

Originally from Houston, Texas, Gwendolyn Womack began writing theater plays in college at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She went on to receive an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Directing Theatre, Video & Cinema. Currently she resides in Los Angeles with her husband and son where she can be found at the keyboard working on her next novel. The Memory Painter is her first novel.

For more information visit Gwendolyn’s website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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