This post contains affiliate links. I’m not the kind who reads romance novels. I’m also not the kind who snuggles up for a good Hallmark movie. Those just aren’t my style. If I had known that The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel was like both, I never would have picked it up to read.
About The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel
I loved the premise of the story. Hope McKenna-Smith is 36 and a single mother raising her moody 12 year old daughter. Her mother has died of cancer, and her grandmother, Mamie, has Alzheimers and is slowly forgetting her family. Hope has recently gone through a rough divorce after her husband cheated on her with a 22-year old.
Hope runs the bakery Mamie began and ran for 50 years, but her heart really isn’t in it. She had planned to become a lawyer before she accidentally became pregnant 13 years ago. Her old high school boyfriend who now works at the local bank tells her that due to her bad credit, they’re calling in her loan; she’s going to lose the bakery.
Admist all this drama, Hope visits her grandmother and finds her lucid. Hope takes Mamie to the water front where Mamie does odd things like crumble the star pie Hope has brought her into the sea while reciting something quietly. That same day, she gives Hope a list of names and birth years and tells Hope she must go to Paris to find out what happened to these people.
While Hope at first insists there’s no way she could just jet off to Paris, her handyman/friend, Gavin, who works with Holocaust survivors, convinces her she must do it. He even offers to run the bakery for her while she goes.
Hope does go to Paris, and she unravels a decades old mystery she didn’t even know existed because her grandmother always kept mum about her past. Hope soon finds Mamie is a different woman than she ever thought possible.
Oh, so many thoughts. Initially, I enjoyed the book. This is a different Holocaust story than I usually read in that it deals with survivors 70 years after the fact. I tried to imagine what some of these survivors faced. I imagined my own very large family of eight sets of aunts and uncles and 30+ cousins. What would it be like to lose every.single.one. of those people in my life? The sense of loss, loneliness, and emptiness is more than I can bear to think about, but that’s what many survivors faced.
But honestly, shortly after that moment in the book, things went rapidly down hill. This story line is completely unbelievable. Hope is in Paris less than three days, and yet in that time, she learns who the people on the list are and what happened to every single one of them.
While Mamie has Alzheimers, the disease seems to ebb whenever it’s convenient for the story line.
And the romance? Please. How perfect that romance works out perfectly for every one in the story except the ex-husband who is dating the young blond named Sunshine.
There are more completely unbelievable things in the story, but I can’t mention them without giving away the rest of the story.
Finally, I found Hope irritating, and I became irritated with Harmel’s writing when she continually described Hope speaking in a “small voice.”
I kept reading in hopes that the story would redeem itself, but honestly, it just kept getting worse.
However, my opinion is clearly in the minority as Amazon and Goodreads ratings for this book are all over 4 stars.
I give The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel 2 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.