Lady B and Her Memory Box

Fiction - Suspense
324 Pages
Reviewed on 08/15/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Bernadette Longu for Readers' Favorite

Lady B and Her Memory Box by James Pumpelly is a wonderful, delightful story written with a tremendous amount of compassion, understanding, humor, love, and grace. It catches your attention and imagination from the first chapter to the last. It makes the reader realize that books that grab your interest, as this one does, are not just a one-off reading, but are books you return to when seeking guidance, solace, or answers to your questions.

Lady B and Her Memory Box by James Pumpelly is a book that will stay on your shelf for more than one read and as a guide. The main characters are Lady B (Beatrice), Father Black, Marjorie, and Cindy, and then, last but not least, April. This story spans from about the end of the Second World War to fairly current times. In parts, it is humorous, courageous, and even sad in places. The quotes and sayings that are interspersed throughout are inspiring and come from famous writers, famous people, ordinary people, and the Bible itself. The fact that the author has made use of a priest and the Bible to help tell the wonderful story of Lady B is a testament to James Pumpelly’s empathy with the task that was entrusted to him.

James Pumpelly has taken a subject like a biography or even an autobiography and turned it into a compelling book that will make the reader think and re-think aspects and incidents in their lives. It is well worth more than one read. I feel privileged to have been able to read this inspiring, intriguing, and interesting story.

Anelynde Smit

Lady B and Her Memory Box by James Pumpelly is the beautiful story of Lady B. Known as Beatrice to her friends and family, we follow her story from the nursing home with the notice of impending death at her feet. Her metal cabinet is where she keeps her clothes and, most importantly, her memories. Memories in the form of yellow spiral books and newspaper clippings celebrate her career as a model, decorator, director, restaurateur, and heartbreaker. We go back and forth between her days in the nursing home and her pleasant visits from Father Black to her detailed past. A beautiful past with much love and lovers but no real attachments. This is a stunning story of a life well-lived. I highly recommend this book for the dreamers, the searchers in all of us. The detailed past plays out so beautifully and even tragically in front of your eyes. The excerpts from many works of literature keep you warm and safe and her use of language leaves you breathless.

Lady B and Her Memory Box by James Pumpelly is a one-of-a-kind story. She is so delicate and deliberate with words, using only the best to describe both what is happening and what has happened. The tragic side of her story is her present, her free spirit confined to a bed with only her visits from Father Black to keep her company. The beautiful poems and detailed diary entries will leave you wanting more from the story. You delight in her achievements and you cry at her most delicate moments, moments that would break any soul. It is a wonderful celebration of life. Even if you are following her in the nursing home, you sense the pain but freedom she feels when entering her memory box. This story should be told, to celebrate a life worth living and dying for. Delight in the tales of the memory box.

Susan van der Walt

Beatrice - or Lady B as her friend fondly calls her - is a dynamic woman who has run many restaurants in her lifetime. She is having a hard time adjusting to the frailty of her body due to Parkinson's disease. Even when she had just arrived at the nursing home, she used her experience to suggest positive changes, but unfortunately, management never implemented any of these. Her ever-failing body struggles to keep up with her mind, kept active by the many memories recorded in her memory box. James Pumpelly uses these memories to tell the story of a life well-lived when Lady B dwells on the past by herself or shares them with Father Black. Father B - as she calls him - not only shares her memories of the past with her but is also sharing in her final journey.

James Pumpelly creates the portrait of a formidable woman who, despite many hardships and challenges, always finds a way to persevere and succeed. When her body fails her, Lady B's indomitable spirit refuses to quit. But she has a fantastic 'angel' on this last journey; Father B, who guides her to make peace with past hurts and prepares her for the inevitable end. When reading Lady B and Her Memory Box, I felt the pathos of a frail body with no more to give but a spirit who was not ready to let go of life. James Pumpelly shows that love, compassion, and kindness prepare Lady B for when her time comes to move on. I think the author has has created two fantastic characters in Lady B and Father Black, and I love how their stories intertwine and the journey they share.

K.C. Finn

Lady B and Her Memory Box is a work of fiction in the thriller, suspense, and interpersonal drama subgenres, and was penned by author James Pumpelly. Written from the perspective of an author who has nursed family members with debilitating conditions such as Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and Covid through to their eventual deaths, this compassionate and fascinating work takes us to Lady B as she sits in a nursing home in her final weeks. Recounting the thrilling and exciting decades of her life, we go on a journey with her through the exciting world of modeling, theater, Hollywood, and the changing face of the entertainment world.

Author James Pumpelly has crafted a work of fiction that addresses the real world in a powerful and emotional way, thanks to his raw, heartfelt emotional narrative skills and his sensitive use of dialogue and storytelling techniques. I found the presentation of the work to be varied and exciting, which suited the different stages of Lady B’s life and the way she pieced her memories back together. In terms of the presentation of the various medical conditions that Lady B will eventually succumb to, there’s a kind of peace and contemplative air to the atmosphere that Pumpelly creates which makes it all feel all right. Though it’s sad and bittersweet, it’s never inappropriate or traumatic, and for this, I was very grateful. Overall, I would certainly recommend Lady B and Her Memory Box to fans of heartfelt drama with plenty of glamour, thrills, and spills along the way!

Vincent Dublado

Lady B and Her Memory Box by James Pumpelly challenges your emotions and intelligence in a story that spans six decades of the main character’s fascinating life. Lady B opens her tale by revealing that she has been confined to a nursing home cubicle for the last four years. She confesses that Parkinson’s is her angel of death and arthritis is his aide-de-camp. Because her days are numbered, she reminisces about her youth, her midlife successes, and her varied careers as a model, decorator, designer, stage director, and restaurateur. She tells you the story contained in her memory box as she invites you to accompany her back into the past, for she can no longer envision the future. Welcome to Lady B’s fastidious existence in a world filled with rubbing shoulders and hobnobbing - and the dark secrets that go with it.

Lady B and Her Memory Box is a story with heart and soul and you will find it easy to put yourself in Lady B’s shoes and see life from her perspective. James Pumpelly certainly makes it work as his novel has the pathos of the films that you watch in Turner Classic Movies. The tale evolves by using the contents of Lady B’s memory box, working like a time machine that has collected a fascinating set of characters and events to give substance to the main protagonist. Whatever your approach, you will find that Pumpelly has a genuine interest in life and people as they are. Lady B’s erudite first-person narrative makes her one of the most imposing characters you will ever meet. This book will appeal to readers who love tales with an eloquent touch.