My Memories of a Future Life follows Carol Lear, a once concert pianist who has to deal with losing her gift. Plagued by mysterious pains in her hands and arms, Carol has to look at life without the one thing that had always defined it – performing. When she goes with her roommate to a public hypnotherapy session, she is skeptical of the theory of past lives. But when Carol agrees to a session of her own with a former school acquaintance named Gene, her timeline jumps forwards instead of backwards. Carol begins to wonder if what she experiences is real or not, and she also has to fight to understand Gene, as he only seems to want to treat her and never talk.
This particular novel was originally serialized on Kindle and then later published as a whole. I think it works well in four parts, if only because the first part helps to ground you in the story. The other three parts delve progressively deeper into this world that Carol has discovered, and not everything she finds appeals to her. It would be easy to see this novel as only focused on the identity crisis Carol suffers when she is confronted with not touching a piano for months, if ever again. And in a lot of ways, the novel is exactly about that, but with a unique twist. Her skepticism of the legitimacy of her “future life” is woven throughout the novel. And even though her roommate’s experience guided her to Gene’s treatment in the first place, she doesn’t believe it. We are never really sure if Carol believes that Andreq (her future incarnation) and his world are actually real or imaginary, but she treasures the experiences nonetheless.
I found the novel engrossing. I approached it skeptically, much like Carol, simply because the idea of past lives is a subject that I personally don’t believe in. I liked that Carol never really dove into it, not really, because she could not understand it. When approached by some interesting spiritualists, Carol refuses to discuss her experiences with them. I felt it was partially because she didn’t really believe what she experienced, not really, and partially because she was not willing to share it with anyone else. Getting to know Andreq also meant she got to know Gene even better, and I think it was his trust and relationship that she never really wanted to betray.
For the most part, My Memories of a Future Life was well-written and interesting. I wanted to keep reading, to see what would happen in Carol’s life and in her hypnotherapy sessions. I wanted her to break down the walls around Gene, I wanted him to open up and act real. What drove this novel for me was definitely the interaction between Carol and Gene, but also her adjustment to a new way of life without the instrument she loved. As someone whose life had revolved around music for years, I identified with her loss and her struggle to move on without the daily interaction of an instrument. The novel resonates on so many levels.
I did feel, however, that Carol’s first session with Gene was jarring, but perhaps Morris wanted it to jar with the reader because it definitely surprised Carol. My other minor gripe was the ending. I suppose I wanted a bit more closure to the story, and the gale that came and swept away Carol and her problems was a bit heavy-handed to me. It felt bizarre. Of course, here again it is easy to see that the wave was meant to wash away Carol’s past in order to let her begin her life again. I’m not sure how you would improve the ending, but I know that it left me slightly unsatisfied (I do prefer things a bit more tidy, I guess). But even with its flaws, the novel reels you in and delivers a very satisfactory read.
All in all, My Memories of a Future Life was an intriguing piece of fiction. I will definitely be on the lookout for more books by Roz Morris, whose style flows effortlessly and beautifully across the page.