|Amnesia is one of those story lines often used, and sometimes over-used. This one generally works and it is a surprisingly thought-provoking tale of how a person can move off onto the wrong track and lose their way. A Man She Couldn’t Forget explores that and more. Yet, it had moments of sweetness that were a little two sugary, bordering on run of the mill.
Clare Boneli can’t remember her life. She woke up in the hospital with amnesia. There are two men who seem important to her and she can remember neither one. Jonathan Harris is her supposed boyfriend, and the man who she was going to move in with. He is suave and sophisticated, as well as being her boss at the local TV station. He produces her cooking show and tells her they have plans for syndication on the cooking channel soon. Brady Langston lives in the condo across the hall from Clare. He is an artist and illustrator, in fact, they have collaborated on her many cookbooks. He is supposedly her best friend.
But Clare doesn’t remember more than images and some feelings. She knows she and Brady have been friends, just as she knows her other neighbors, Delia and Max. Yet she senses a vague distrust from them and realizes that while they were once very close, something had changed over the last year or so and they had become distant. She also senses that she is the one to cause it. She remembers Jonathan but can’t capture any feelings of intimacy for him.
Jonathan and Brady are two very distinct men. Jonathan loves Clare and yet, seems to want her for what they can build and make together. He has aspirations and knows that she can reach for the moon with her cooking talent. But he is not the bad guy, and I really liked that the author made him real. He truly cares for Clare and at times, he shows signs of jealousy, but he really thinks he is the best man for her. He believes they bring out the best in each other.
Brady is the down home lovable everyone’s friend kind of guy. He has no pretensions and loves Clare for who he knew her to be as she was growing up. They had been friends as kids and are still friends. Brady is happy go lucky and enjoys their success without letting it go to his head. At times the author did make him out to be too good to be true.
The amnesia plot succeeds because Clare really works at remembering and then tries to put her whole life into a big picture. There were not a lot of up and down emotions that you sometimes find in this type of story. She accepts that she has changed and has grown apart from her friends. But she wants to explore it and regain the ground she has apparently lost. At the same time, she doesn’t jump off the deep end when she finds out people haven’t been completely honest with her. I liked that about her.
The sugary sweetness came in as she is trying to figure out what happened the night she had the accident that caused her memory loss. Without giving away details, let me say that the author’s version of poor vs. rich and what constitutes happiness might not sit well with readers. On the one hand it worked, mainly because I really liked Brady. But it seemed too pat of a response and pushed the book into the category of likable but nothing new.
A Man She Couldn’t Forget is a good story using amnesia as the backdrop. In the hands of a talented author, even this overused plot can work.