Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Song Remains the Same: Review and Giveaway

We all have occasional lapses in memory. We may forget to do something important, forget to pick up a needed item from the store, or forget someone's name or birthday. That's pretty normal.  But what if, suddenly, all memories of the past were completely extinguished? Kaput! What if you couldn't remember anything about yourself: what type of personality you had, which schools you attended, what your job was, where you lived, who your family and friends were, as well as the myriad of little details that are also essential? You'd feel rather lost, because we define ourselves on what has been, even though every day is new. That would be a very difficult and incomparable situation, not one I'd like to be in, even though in some ways the idea of a clean slate or fresh start is nice (that's the appeal of a new place, relationship, or book, even).

This is the premise of the novel that I've just read, The Song Remains the Same, by Allison Winn Scotch, published in 2012, my first book involving a character afflicted by amnesia.  In this case, the amnesia was brought on by a devastating plane crash in which there are only two survivors, Nell Slattery, the protagonist, and Anderson Carroll, a handsome and charming actor (sought by Spielberg).  In this book, Nell (named after the Beatles song, Eleanor Rigby) tries to regain her memory through pictures, both photos and paintings, with the help of friends, family, and professionals, and also through music.  Her younger sister, Rory, attempts to help Nell by giving her an iPod with hundreds of songs on it, to see if music will jog her memory, help her recover the past.  However, Nell learns from a colleague that when it comes to her marriage, it may be better to forget, because her husband, Peter, has slept with another woman.  Her mother wants her to forgive Peter, while Rory seems adamantly opposed to any sort of reunion with him.

"I wouldn't say that I was raised on romance. Let's not get stuck in the past."
~Elvis Costello, Pay It Back  

As Nell sincerely tries to remember the past she has lost in the crash, she soon realizes that reconstructing it is no easy task, and that the truth is hard to uncover.  She tries wholeheartedly to remember, she tries to be a good person, and she also tries to rebuild her marriage and trust her husband.  Inspired by the TV show, Friends, she also attempts to adopt a more dynamic personality.  I give her an "A" for all of her effort.  I rooted for her and wanted her to regain her memory, or at least enough of it so that she wouldn't feel completely disoriented, without an identity and frames of reference.  Nell focuses intently on her artist-father,  Francis, who disappeared when she was a young teenager.  She believes that her father is an important key to her past, and to regaining her memory.  Nell feels that solving the mysteries surrounding her father, who's supremely talented artistically (but also very selfish), will help her in the present.

Photo of Led Zeppelin, courtesy of Wikipedia
While I appreciated the incisive writing and this story, I was left wanting just a bit more, musically speaking. The title of this book is the name of an album, film, and song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, and some of the chapters have titles which are the names of popular rock songs, so I waited for the "meat and potatoes" to arrive--but I'm not sure that they ever did.  Songs do eventually help to spark Nell's memory, but I wanted music to be even more central and defined in the story, and I wanted to learn more about her musical talent, which was on a major hiatus.  Her musical talent seemed diluted and secondary to the painting talent she also had, an inheritance from her father (although that was probably intentional, a sign that Nell had chosen her absent father over her present, "musical" mother).  I'm a huge fan of music--it's one of the greatest pleasures of my own life--so perhaps my expectations in this regard were too high.  But, I felt as if the musical aspects of this novel could have been explored more deeply, instead of being alluded to.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this book.  I'd definitely like to read Allison Winn Scotch's NY Times bestseller, Time of My Life. The Song Remains the Same does make you think about what you'd do in similar circumstances, without memories of the past to guide you. Would you rely on your gut feelings or intuition?  On others?  How would you (although I dislike this overused term, it truly fits here) "reinvent" yourself?  And practically, how would you piece together the past, and live in the present?  The premise of  The Song Remains the Same was unique to me, and the book is humorous, well-written, and thought-provoking.

The Penguin Group is generously offering a copy of The Song Remains the Same as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only) to a lucky reader.

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment. 
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower, or that you subscribe in Google Reader.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter. 

Enter by 5PM PDT on Monday, April 30. One lucky winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, May 1. Good luck!

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me an advance copy of this book. For more reviews, please visit the other stops on TLC'sThe Song Remains the Same book blog tour.


  1. Not leaving a comment to receive a copy of the book. Just wanted to thank you for the review. It was a blip on my radar because the premise and title intrigued me. Your review helped me to determine whether I can make time for one more book or not.

  2. Great review -- I've read this author previously and liked the book. Thanks for the giveaway

    bibliophilebythesea AT gmail dot com

  3. A very good and honest review. Love the title... anything about music always catches my eye too!!

  4. I don't Know what I'll do in similar circunstances. I think I'll more rely on my intuition than on others. I think, that among the five senses, the sense of smell 'ld play a big part too.

  5. I think this was an excellent review Suko, and you raise some interesting points, particularly about the music that inspires Nell to remember. I think it would have been nice to see more of Nell's musical side as well, but there was so much family dysfunction going on that it didn't seem like that was a viable option for the plot. Very intriguing take on this one today. I enjoyed it immensely.

  6. I would love to read this book—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  7. Thorough review, it's piqued my interest in the book. I'd like to read this one. I'm a follower and I posted the giveaway in the sidebar of my blog.

  8. I'd love to compare this book to another I read with a similar theme - What Alice Forgot, which I recommend.

    I'm a GFC follower.

    harvee44 (at) yahoo.com

  9. No need to enter me, as I already have a copy. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your review, and you've really made me look forward to reading this one. I loved Time of My Life, and I can't wait to read more of her work.

  10. With that title, you'd think there would be more music in the book. It still sounds like it's worth reading. No need to enter me.

  11. I'd love to read this one.

    I'm a GFC follower


  12. I would love to read this one!

    GFC follower

    tweeted (at)LiteraryChanteu


  13. I've been reading a lot of good things about this book, the only complaint being the cover which lots of people seem to think is too pink - still, if that's the only complaint than I think the author is onto a winner.

  14. I've been curious to try this as I tend to like "amnesia" books. I appreciate your comment about the music (or lack thereof). I could see that it might need to play a more central role … especially when the book title references a song!

    1. Well put! Maybe music is center stage in the final version of this book.

  15. This one does sound interesting and even if the music aspect was lacking a bit, the premise sounds very good.
    I love music as well and can see how you had higher expectations as far as that was concerned.
    Wonderful review!

  16. This sounds like an interesting read! I've only read one book involving memory loss that I can think of and that was the thriller Before You Go To Sleep. I'm definitely going to add this one to my TBR list so thanks for sharing about it :)

  17. The book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.


  18. I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall! Thank for being on the tour.

  19. I cannot wait to read this book! I really enjoyed The One That I Want and have been waiting for this one ot come out. Thanks!

  20. I am a GFC follower (Colleen Turner).


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