The Memory House

Mar 21, 2023 | Book Reviews

We all have memories associated with a place we call home, particularly ones we grew up in. Some memories are happy and pleasant, some might be sorrowful. But a house is much more than a place where we spend time growing up. At best, it’s a place of laughter, learning, and thriving. It can be a place of respite and healing, where pain is overpowered by love. Altogether, such memories comprise home and family.

But what if a house where you spent many childhood hours no longer holds any memories for you?

Such is the case of Beck Holiday in The Memory House by Rachel Hauck. 

This past year, I’ve featured several novels with a house as a main character, in most cases, an old home:

On previous visits, Rachel Hauck discussed The Fifth Avenue Story Society and The Writing Desk. But today, join me at The Memory House, a home of hope and healing.

Thomas Nelson (April 2, 2019)

Blurb

The inspirational story of two women whose lives have been destroyed by disaster but find healing in a special house.

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order.

When a mysterious letter arrives informing Beck that she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, she discovers something there that will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a sports agent who has never forgotten their connection as teenagers. But Beck can’t even remember him.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into her former high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hauck brings us a sweet romance where the power of love and the miracle of faith promise hope and healing in a beautiful Victorian home known affectionately as The Memory House.

My thoughts

The two stories in this novel have a house in common. Along with two women who need healing.

Two women, two different eras. In the 1950s, Everleigh Applegate is innocent and naive. About seventy years later, Beck Holiday is a NYC cop with plenty of street savvy. Through many trials, Everleigh grows into someone strong. Beck, on the other hand, has to learn what true strength is, and it’s not always a tough facade. Everleigh battles painful memories, while Beck has lost hers. 

Both women have secrets. Both deal with grief. And both have a connection to a house in Florida. A place of safety and comfort. Everleigh and her husband Don owned it for years. Beck and her family used to vacation there, and play with the neighbor Bruno across the street. 

But Beck doesn’t remember anything about it. Not since her father’s tragic death on 9/11. To her surprise, while on suspension, she learns she has inherited this house. She goes to Florida to check it out and encounters her childhood friend Bruno—whom she doesn’t remember.

Prior to living in the house, Everleigh’s life was thrown off balance by the 1953 tornado  in Waco, Texas, while pregnant with her first child. After losing her husband, she moves in with her mother and runs into an old high school friend Don. 

Both Don and Bruno are good men. Though neither is perfect, they are real and three-dimensional, trustworthy and kind. But can Don love Everleigh even with the painful memories of her secret? Can Bruno love Beck despite her lost memories? 

Come to the memory house and find out.

Join me for some Q & A with Rachel Hauck.

Author Rachel Hauck

Questions about The Memory House

What was your inspiration for writing The Memory House? What’s your personal connection to the story or setting?

Rachel: The Memory House was one that started with a title! I had the idea of The House On Memory Lane. Split time novels need an object which connects the stories. I had the idea sisters had to return to a house left to them by a relative. Then I visited Waco, Texas, learned about the ’53 tornado and knew I wanted to include that in my story. I also loved a north Florida beach town, Fernandina Beach, so I set the contemporary story there. 

The publisher thought the title sounded too much like a romance – an idea I still dispute to this day, ha! – and in the end, my agent came up with The Memory House. I do love it though. 

How did you create your heroines Beck and Everleigh and their particular situations?

Rachel: When dealing with split time stories, you can’t always connect characters through family. Too many grandma, granddaughter stories get old. I knew I didn’t want them to be connected and I also knew I wanted a 9-11 angle. 

I got out The Story Equation and got to work, developing the people I’d spend the next five months with. 

If you and Beck spent a girls’ weekend together, where would you go and why?

Rachel: Oh this is easy. She’d take me to all the “local” places in New York City! She’d take me to the best pizza place in the Bronx or the best Italian spot in Brooklyn. She’d show me the city like a native. 

Was there anything unusual you had to do or research to create this story (fire fighting, memory loss, etc.)?

Rachel: There was a lot of tedious research for this book. Researching 9-11 and learning almost all of the first responder deaths were firefighters. Researching the 9-11 memorial, which I had visited. Researching temporary amnesia. Also, researching early 2000 cell phones and how they worked – even though I had owned one – and if it was possible to get an old message off of one. Lots of googling took place.

I researched sports agenting. I connected with a real agent and he gave me a lot of help. 

I researched Waco in the early 1960s. It’s exciting and satisfying to hear from people who lived in Waco, or still live in Waco, tell me I got it right. 

How do you want this story (or any of your books) to resonate with your readers?

Rachel: I love for readers to feel hope after loss or devastation. To smile as they read the last word. Beck made a lot of mistakes, and she lived almost under personal punishment. Like she didn’t deserve happiness. She was so devastated by one mistake; she wiped her memories of her father. Yet, God saw her differently and set her up for healing and success. 

The same for Everleigh. She had a happy life until the ’53 tornado. When she lost everything at 23, she lived as if she also died. But God had plans for her, to give her a future and a hope. 

One of my favorite “accidental” scenes is in The Memory House. Everleigh made a devastating choice after the tornado took everything and seven years later, in another state, that choice is healed. I don’t want to say more, it’ll be a spoiler, but I never intended to tie up that thread. It presented itself to me and I loved it. I cried and cried.  

Of all the books you’ve published, do you have a favorite? Which one and why?

Rachel: I’ve always been partial to one of the Sara Evan’s books, Softly and Tenderly. A character dies in that book and just as I was falling asleep, the whole scene was “downloaded” to me and I started weeping. I’d never had a scene “downloaded” to me before. My husband said, “What’s wrong?” I said, “Beryl died.” Sniff, sniff.

Every time I edited or read that scene, I wept. 

I’m also sweet on my royal stories. I love all of those. Reggie in Princess Ever After is a fun, fun, character with a poignant calling on her life. 

Of course, my latest story, The Best Summer of Our Lives, is a favorite. I can’t wait for people to read it!

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Back to Laura . . . On a similar note . . . 

If you like dual timeline fiction, you might enjoy my novel, Fifteen Minutes with Mr. Baum. This story spotlights L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Set in Holland, Michigan, this pre-published novel alternates between 1980 and the early 1900s. Read more and watch the book trailer here.

If you like Southern fiction or stories about family secrets, you might enjoy my re-launched novel All That Is Hidden, Set near North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains in 1968, the story spotlights the bond of family and the connections of a tight-knit community. Northern exploitation threatens as a father’s hidden past catches up to him and tests family ties. Learn more and watch the trailer here.  

All That Is Hidden awards:

  • Winner of the Artisan Book Reviews Book Excellence Award
  • Semifinalist in Serious Writer’s Book of the Decade contest

I invite you to join my monthly newsletter for writing updates, freebies, and giveaways. Sign up and I’ll send you a free gift: www.StandoutStoriesNewsletter.com

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Rachel Hauck Bio

New York Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Rachel Hauck writes from sunny central Florida. A RITA finalist and winner of Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year, and Career Achievement Award, she writes vivid characters dealing with real life issues. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, was made into an original Hallmark movie. Her novel, The Wedding Dress, has been optioned for film by Brain Power Studio.

She loves to hear from readers. She also loves to encourage new writers and sits on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers. A graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism, Rachel is an avid OSU football fan. She hopes to one day stand on the sidelines in the Shoe with Ryan Day. Visit her website to learn more.

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Join me next time for a visit with author Sarah Loudin Thomas.

Meanwhile, have you read The Memory House or any others by Rachel Hauck? Do you gravitate to dual timeline stories? Answer in the comments below.

Ever reading,

Laura

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Coming soon: Fifteen Minutes with Mr. Baum, a novel

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10 Comments

  1. Rachel Hauck

    Thanks so much for having me on your beautiful site!

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      You’re welcome! I’m honored to have you.

      Reply
  2. Brooke Cutler

    I haven’t read anything by Rachel Hauck, and I don’t necessarily gravitate towards dual timeline Stories. But I have enjoyed some!!

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      You might like The Fifth Avenue Story Society, a novel by Rachel that is not dual timeline.

      Reply
  3. Elizabeth Daghfal

    So many thoughts running through my head after reading this. First off, I love your questions, Laura. They show creativity themselves!
    Second, I love how these characters have the opposite issue: gaining strength/realizing what strength really is, too many memories/no memories…. giving thought to how either side of the spectrum can affect us. Pointing out the plum line in life.
    And speaking of memories, I recently read results to a survey on what tropes are readers’ favorites, and amnesia was listed somewhere in the mix. It didn’t make much of an imprint on me then, but as I read this review, the memory loss plot line hit me strong. Like I really wanted to know her story. Maybe it’s because memories are such a strong part of what makes me. So the idea of having none? Ouch. Can’t wait to read the story

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      There’s so much you could say about memories, whether they’re ours uniquely or shared with others. Without them, we wouldn’t be who we are. We wouldn’t learn from previous experiences, we wouldn’t even have real relationships. I know somebody (a young person) who has severe memory issues and it constantly interferes with his connections to friends and family. So painful! What if you couldn’t remember a meaningful experience somebody shared with you the last time you were together? There are so many repercussions from losing memories.

      Reply
  4. Rita Trickel

    I’ve read a couple of Rachel’s books now, thanks to your blog, Laura. It sounds like this one delves into some hefty life issues. Intriguing!

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      Oh, I’m so glad you’ve been persuaded to read some of the books I’ve featured, Rita!

      Reply
  5. Ruth Schmeckpeper

    I’ve read quite a few split-time books lately. It’s a gift to be able to write two storylines and ask them to intersect in a crucial part. I’m also interested in books where a house plays a major role. Fascinating how authors create characters from a setting. I’ve read and enjoyed many Rachel Hauck books.

    Reply
    • Laura DeNooyer

      Yes, this one has a dual timelines PLUS a house as central to the story! I wonder how many stories arise from just the setting initially.

      Reply

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