The Memory Stones by Caroline Brothers will be featured on the Radio 2 Book Club on Monday 18 July.
The book was selected with the help of a panel made up of Reading Agency and library staff from across the UK. We have an exclusive extract available for you to read as well as a “discussion guide” for your reading group.
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The Memory Stones
Buenos Aires, 1976. In the heat of summer, the Ferrero family escapes to the lush expanse of Tigre. Osvaldo, a distinguished doctor, and his wife Yolanda, gather with their daughters, sensible Julieta who lives in Miami, and willful Graciela – nineteen, radiant, and madly in love with her fiancé, José. They will be the last days the family ever spends together.
On their return, the Argentine military stages a coup, and Osvaldo is forced to flee to Europe as friends and colleagues disappear overnight. When José is abducted, Graciela goes into hiding. Osvaldo can only witness the disintegration of his family from afar, while Yolanda fights on the ground to find their beloved daughter – rumours of the junta’s brutality darkening her fears. Soon, she realises they may be fighting for an unknown grandchild as well.
Heartbreaking and beautiful, The Memory Stones tells the story of the Disappeared, thousands of Argentinians who fell victim to the violence of the period. It is a lyrical, devastating portrait of a country that has come face to face with terror and the long dark shadow it leaves behind.
Selection panel review
Our library reading panel loved The Memory Stones – here are some of their comments:
“This book is set in Argentina at the start of the political uncertainty following the military coup in 1976 and the Junta’s frightening and harsh regime. People are scared; the military roam the streets and civilians disappear on a daily basis, abducted by the police or government and are not seen again. I really like this book, which is set over many years. It is beautifully written; its descriptive passages bring to life the horror of living under a military regime, the struggle of a family torn apart like so many others during these troubled times.”
“This historical novel reads beautifully, as if you are actually there living through all the atrocities. It jumps around a lot, so you need to keep pace with the timeline, and also you need to pay attention to which country you’re in as the family gets split up. It is a heart-breaking novel that focuses on the family. This book is so well written, that it doesn’t matter if you’re interested in the topic or not. It sucks you in, and because the characters are so well drawn you can’t help but become immersed in the story. It will break your heart; however there is hope at the end of it. I would highly recommend this book.”
About the author
Caroline Brothers was born in Australia. She has a PhD in history from University College London and has worked as a foreign correspondent in Europe and Latin America, and as a journalist at the International New York Times. She is the author of War and Photography, and the novel Hinterland. She divides her time between London and Paris.
A word from Caroline
“I am thrilled that The Memory Stones has been chosen by The Reading Agency and by library staff for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club. Libraries were absolutely vital to my childhood, and indeed to my ever becoming a writer, and I cannot imagine what childhood would be without them. Without libraries I would never have devoured the entire works of authors like Tove Jannsen and Laura Ingalls Wilder; without librarians I would never have discovered the 940 section (war stories!) that slaked my thirst for adventure through much of my later school years. Behind the scenes, librarians were quietly doing their mysterious work, putting us in the way of other minds and other worlds in order to expand our own.”
Tune in to Simon Mayo’s Drivetime show on Monday 18 July to hear a live interview with Caroline Brothers talking about her book.