9 Unforgettable stories about characters who can’t remember

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish is ten books that feature characters __________ which fits pretty well with a post I already had planned about books dealing with memory loss or amnesia.

I’m not sure if this is just my general oddness but to me there has always been something compelling about stories with characters suffering from amnesia or memory loss. It’s one of those plotlines that I literally can’t resist. Just put the words memory or amnesia in the blurb and I’m in. It just raises so many fascinating questions and ideas for me. How much of who you are is determined by your memories and experiences and would you be different without them? Is it better to remember painful experiences or would you prefer to forget? What happens if you can’t remember things? Will it drive you nuts or could you just move past it?

Wait, where was I again??

Anyway, I thought it would be fun (mostly for me tbh) to do a post about the books I’ve read with characters suffering from memory loss or amnesia. I haven’t necessarily loved all of them but they’ve definitely fascinated me. I should say that this post is spoiler free so I’ve deliberately excluded any books where the amnesia thing gives away a plot twist.


Originally I didn’t think there were many YA stories about characters who’ve lost their memory but when I started to think about it turns out there are quite a few. Secret pasts, repressed memories are actually pretty common tropes and even as I’m writing this another couple of books have popped into my head but I thought I’d go with a couple of recent reads.

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

The One Memory of Flora Banks

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

This is an absolutely brilliant book and one of my favorites this year. Main character Flora can’t retain any new memories for more than a few hours so has to constantly leave herself notes for even the most basic information. The story is a little repetitive as you’re inside her head but there’s something very likeable about Flora that makes it an irresistible read

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

We Were Liars

We are the Liars.

We are beautiful, privileged and live a life of carefree luxury.

We are cracked and broken.

A story of love and romance.

A tale of tragedy.

Which are lies?

Which is truth?

You decide.

I’m not giving anything much away when I say that central to the plot is the fact that the main character has no memory of a specific event. I’m saying no more than this as it’s a book you really need to go into blind like I did and pretty much everything is a spoiler. What I will say is that this is a brilliant book and was completely different from what I expected it to be.

Science Fiction

Let’s face it they’ve been mucking around with people’s memories in sci fi since the very beginning and you could probably come up with a hundred books fairly easily but I’m limiting myself to just one that really fascinated me.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)

 If you ain’t scared, you ain’t human.

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.

Nice to meet ya, shank. Welcome to the Glade.

Outside the towering stone walls that surround the Glade is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.

Everything is going to change.

Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying.

Remember. Survive. Run.

OK safe to say this is not my favorite book (I struggled) but the best thing about it is that absolutely no one remembers anything from their life prior to entering the Glade. They don’t know where they are, why they are there or even who they are. I loved this idea of mass memory loss and the impact it has on group dynamics.

New Adult

I don’t think I’ve come across too many new adult books with this as a storyline, off the top of my head I can only think of a couple and one is a spoiler so I’ll just stick with the one.

Never, Never by Colleen Hoover & Tarynn Fisher

Never Never (Never Never, #1)

Best friends since they could walk. In love since the age of fourteen.

Complete strangers since this morning.

He’ll do anything to remember. She’ll do anything to forget.

This is actually a series of three novella’s rather than one book and parts one and two are absolutely brilliant (part three is a disappointment). It’s about two teens who suddenly have no memory of who they are. Again I love the who are you when you can’t remember aspects of this story and it also asks the question if you weren’t a nice person is it better leave your memories lost.


Amnesia is definitely becoming a pretty common trope in thrillers too, and I totally blame the first book below:

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

Before I Go To Sleep‘As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me …’ Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love—all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.

This is probably one of the first thrillers I remember reading with a character suffering from memory loss and it’s a truly gripping story. Every morning Christine wakes up with no memory of anything past her childhood. What’s most fascinating about this is the reliance you have on what others tell you and how open to manipulation this leaves you.

In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

I absolutely love Tana French books. They aren’t particularly fast paced but they are fascinating in how deeply they go into the character’s minds. In this, the first Dublin Murder Squad book, the lead detective Rob Ryan has a hole in his memory. You might think that as it’s from his childhood he will have learned how to deal with it but it just eats away at him and he begins to unravel. Not so great for him, brilliant to read.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

All Is Not Forgotten

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny’s wounds have healed.
An experimental treatment has removed the memory of a horrific and degrading attack.
She is moving on with her life.

That was the plan. Except it’s not working out.
Something has gone. The light in the eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can’t stop touching.
And she’s getting worse.
Not to mention the fact that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial.

It may be that the only way to uncover what’s wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack.

This is pretty much the opposite of the previous book in that rather than trying to remember a traumatic event a deliberate decision is made to forget one. Unfortunately though even though the memory is gone there is still something not right which raises the question can you ever really move on if you don’t deal with trauma?

Romance/Chick Lit

Not a very common trope in romance/chick lit although it was actually a romance read in my teens that started my obsession with memory loss (thanks Gran).

Before I Forget by Melissa Hill

Before I ForgetAbby’s memories are her most precious thing. Even though they’re sometimes painful, she can’t stop herself looking back, reliving the love of her life. Until a freak accident means that she could lose it all: every memory and experience she has ever had. Abby can’t believe it’s true. She feels fine. She is fine. How could she possibly forget all those moments that make her who she is? She’s determined to fight it. With the help of her friends and family, Abby makes a list of things she’s always wanted to do. She’s going to save her memory by having the most unforgettable year of her life…

How terrifying to face the prospect of losing your memories, the things that make you you. Don’t get me wrong there are definitely some things I wouldn’t mind forgetting but if it meant losing all the good, no thanks. What I love about this book is the determination to fight her condition and make some memories that can’t be forgotten (I’d probably just curl up in a corner and cry).

Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me?When twenty-eight-year-old Lexi Smart wakes up in a London hospital, she’s in for a big surprise. Her teeth are perfect. Her body is toned. Her handbag is Vuitton. Having survived a car accident—in a Mercedes no less—Lexi has lost a big chunk of her memory, three years to be exact, and she’s about to find out just how much things have changed.

Somehow Lexi went from a twenty-five-year-old working girl to a corporate big shot with a sleek new loft, a personal assistant, a carb-free diet, and a set of glamorous new friends. And who is this gorgeous husband—who also happens to be a multimillionaire? With her mind still stuck three years in reverse, Lexi greets this brave new world determined to be the person she…well, seems to be. That is, until an adorably disheveled architect drops the biggest bombshell of all.

Suddenly Lexi is scrambling to catch her balance. Her new life, it turns out, comes complete with secrets, schemes, and intrigue. How on earth did all this happen? Will she ever remember? And what will happen when she does?

With the same wicked humor and delicious charm that have won her millions of devoted fans, Sophie Kinsella, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Shopaholic & Baby, returns with an irresistible new novel and a fresh new heroine who finds herself in a life-changing and utterly hilarious predicament…

I love Sophie Kinsella books and while not my favorite of hers (Got Your Number) this is definitely up there. Think 13 Going on 30 with a main character who wakes up to discover a big chunk of her life missing and that while things seem perfect they really aren’t.

So that’s my top (umm) nine books about characters suffering from memory loss. Have you read any of these? Are you as fascinated by it as a plotline as I am or do you think it’s over done? Any books you’d recommend?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your top ten’s.


Teaser Tuesday: 26th September 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.

This week my teaser comes from Invictus by Ryan Graudin which I received from NetGalley. I only started this yesterday so it’s still fairly early days but there is something instantly likeable about it plus, ya know, time travel. There really aren’t enough books with time travel and this one combines it with some thievery so it’s all good.

My Teaser

It was good that she remembered him, though it was exhausting to do so. No rest for the weary. Or the dying. Or the dead.

~ 23% Invictus by Ryan Graudin


Time flies when you’re plundering history.

Farway Gaius McCarthy was born outside of time. The son of a time-traveling Recorder from 2354 AD and a gladiator living in Rome in 95 AD, Far’s birth defies the laws of nature. Exploring history himself is all he’s ever wanted, and after failing his final time-traveling exam, Far takes a position commanding a ship with a crew of his friends as part of a black market operation to steal valuables from the past.

But during a heist on the sinking Titanic, Far meets a mysterious girl who always seems to be one step ahead of him. Armed with knowledge that will bring Far’s very existence into question, she will lead Far and his team on a race through time to discover a frightening truth: History is not as steady as it seems.

Review: Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

Cold Blood (Detective Erika Foster, #5)Cold Blood by Robert Bryndza

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great book from Mr Bryndza.

This is the fifth book in the Detective Erika Foster series but could probably be read as a standalone (although why would you when there are four other great books in the series). The story picks up not long after the events of the previous book and follows a fairly similar format, beginning with the discovery of a body. Bryndza does seem to be upping the ick factor however as this time the body is found dismembered in a suitcase. When it’s linked to another body Erika is positive a serial killer is at large once again (I’m so glad I don’t live anywhere near or know Erika) and fights to get a team to investigate.

The story is told from the pov of both Erika and someone who may have been involved in the murders or who may know who did it. As result this isn’t really a who dunnit but more of a police procedural mixed up with the psychology of a killer. For me it was probably the Erika chapters that worked best. There was something a little unconvincing about the killer(s) story. I didn’t 100% buy into it for some reason.

As far as Erika goes there are bits of her I love and bits that really bug me which I suppose is the sign of a well rounded character. Sometimes I’m cheering her on (mostly when she’s fighting her corner against the big bad bosses) and at others I want to shake her (stop pushing everyone away) but I’m always on her side and want the best for her.

She doesn’t get the easiest ride in this book, it just seems to be bad on top of bad (please give her a break soon) but I do get the feeling that she is starting to change and we can expect better things for her in the future.

There are quite a few secondary characters (her team seems to be ever expanding) and while we don’t get as much of certain ones as I would have liked (McGorry, Isaac) I was very happy that Moss was present throughout and that Marsh made a return. I find the relationship between Marsh and Erika fascinating so it’s always good to have them interacting. They have a long and complicated history and things get even more complicated in this book when he becomes part of the case.

It is a pretty fast paced read and was definitely one I found difficult to put down. The author knows just how to hook you and keep you reading late into the night. I do feel though that I need to highlight a couple of issues with it. I hate doing this because I do love the author and his books but the little mistakes and inconsistencies scattered throughout drove me nuts (for example, “nice weather for ducks” is not an unheard of expression in the UK, the description of the bones in the arm isn’t right, and the twins who can’t be told apart on one page are referred to by the correct names on the next). I’m afraid I’m one of those people who once they spot a couple start spotting everything and I had to drop the rating a little for it.

I also felt like it could have done with a bit more depth and detail. The story would possibly have lost a bit of pace but I do think it would have added to the tension and made me a little more invested in the story and characters. There’s just something a little bit jarring about it at times. It’s so frustrating because it’s so close to being absolutely brilliant but just slightly misses the mark because of small silly things that probably only bug me.

Overall however it is an enjoyable read that I flew through and will continue to recommend to everyone I know. Personally, I can’t wait for book 6.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bookouture for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

The Blurb

She fell in love with a killer, now she’s one too.

The suitcase was badly rusted, and took Erika several attempts, but it yielded and sagged open as she unzipped it. Nothing could prepare her for what she would find inside…

When a battered suitcase containing the dismembered body of a young man washes up on the shore of the river Thames, Detective Erika Foster is shocked. She’s worked on some terrifying cases but never seen anything like this before.

As Erika and her team set to work, she makes the link with another victim – the body of a young woman dumped in an identical suitcase two weeks ago.

Erika quickly realises she’s on the trail of a serial killer who’s already made their next move. Yet just as Erika starts to make headway with the investigation, she is the victim of a brutal attack.

But nothing will stop Erika. As the body count rises, the twin daughters of her colleague Commander Marsh are abducted, and the stakes are higher than ever before. Can Erika save the lives of two innocent children before it’s too late? She’s running out of time and about to make a disturbing discovery…there’s more than one killer.

11 Books on my Fall TBR

Despite a little bit of sunshine this afternoon I think it’s safe to say that Autumn has arrived. It’s wet and windy (although you get that in Summer here) and there’s a touch of frost in the morning. While I’m not looking forward to having to scrape my windscreen in the morning or venturing up to the stables in the pitch black I am looking forward to warm jumpers, new boots and cozy evenings spent reading some of the books coming out over the next couple of months.

So I don’t get too distracted and confused by all of the pretty covers I thought it might be a good idea to do a TBR list with the books I really want to read before the end of November. These are mostly ARCs and new releases but I’m leaving myself a little bit of room to try and get to some of the older books lurking on my shelves and kindle.


InvictusThe BreakMoonlight Over Manhattan (From Manhattan with Love, #6)The Rules of MagicUndercover Princess (The Rosewood Chronicles, #1)My Side of the Diamond

I’ve been making great progress with my ARCs until very recently so I want to keep up momentum by knocking another six off my list (and trying really hard not to request any more). These are all out over the next couple of months and are either from NetGalley or Readers First.

  • Invictus by Ryan Graudin – I think this is going to be my next read. I was so lucky to get a copy of this from NetGalley and have been really looking forward to it. I’ve just been waiting for the right time so I can relax and enjoy.
  • The Break by Marian Keyes – Technically no longer an ARC as it was released a week or so ago but still one I want to get to. Keyes is one of my all time favourite writers so I have high hopes.
  • Moonlight over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan – Yay a Sarah Morgan Christmas romance. Perfect for getting into the holiday spirit even if it’s only September. There are mince pies in the supermarket already so the countdown has begun.
  • The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman – Another I’ve been looking forward to. A prequel to Practical Magic, and ok I’ve only seen the film but I’ve read some other Hoffman books and loved so can’t wait for this.
  • Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn – Honestly this had the word fairy tale in the blurb so I hit that request button like mad.
  • My Side of the Diamond by Sally Gardner – I previously read An Almond for a Parrot by Sally Gardner and loved it’s weird mix of genres. I get the impression this will be kind of similar but YA.

New(ish) Releases

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons, #1)Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass, #6)How to Stop TimeThe Empress (The Diabolic #2)The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

There have been a lot of new releases over the last few weeks and even more coming over the next month or so that I can’t wait to read. I do however really need to instigate a bit of a book buying ban so I’m limiting this to books I already own or have pre ordered.

  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo – I have the most beautiful copy of this sitting on my bookshelf and I haven’t had a chance to read it. I don’t think I’ll be able to resist for long.
  • Tower of Dawn by Sarah J Maas – Another book sitting on my shelf I haven’t had a chance to read as yet. I think Empire of Storms put me off Maas a bit and this book is huge so I’ve been a little wary.
  • How to Stop Time by Matt Haig – I picked this up from the local supermarket a few weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to read yet (are you seeing a pattern here).
  • The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo – I know for a fact that this is in October’s FairyLoot box and you can bet I’ll be reading it the second it arrives.
  • The Empress by S.J. Kincaid – I love, love, loved the Diabolic so am really looking forward to this it’s sequel

Other Books

By my calculations there are around 10 weeks until the end of November so I think I can squeeze in a few more but I want to leave it open. Looking at the list above I am thinking it’s a little heavy on fantasy and sci fi and drastically in need of some crime and horror (Halloween is coming after all) so if you have any rec’s that are worth breaking my ban for let me know.

So that’s my list. Have you read any of these? Any you’d particularly recommend or have doubts about? Are there any books on your Fall TBR that you really think should be on mine? Have you bought any mince pies yet?

WWW Wednesday: 20th September 2017

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I haven’t been able to focus on anything much this week so I’m not really reading anything right now. I am however still listening to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. This is the pick for this week’s real life book club which meets tomorrow so I’m no doubt going to be listening to it at every possible opportunity to get it finished in time. I haven’t been a fan of many of the book club picks so far but I am absolutely loving this one. It’s just so funny and clever and a little bit sad. I can’t wait to find out how it ends.

Recently Finished

I’ve been a little bit all over the place for the last week as I’m getting the bathroom and boiler in my one bed flat replaced. I’ve had to spend quite a bit of time tidying and cleaning and am currently living in box city and stressed out of my mind (I assume anything that can go wrong will go wrong). I have however managed to finish two books.

There's Someone Inside Your House

The first of these was YA horror There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. Perkins is probably better known for her cute contemporary romances so I had my doubts over whether she could pull off horror but actually I think this was more or less a success. It is pretty heavy on contemporary romance (there’s a lot of kissing and …) and it’s not particularly scary, it’s much more gory, slasher than creepy or spooky but I did enjoy it. There’s plenty of diversity which is always great and while there are a few faults with the horror side of story the rest is good.

The Red RibbonThe second book finished, The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington, was also horrifying in a very different way. It’s the story of a teenage girl Ella and her time spent in Auschwitz. She manages to find work as a dressmaker but her future and her survival depends on whether she can continue to produce beautiful outfits for the guards. I have to admit that while I’ve heard many stories about Auschwitz this was completely new to me. I’d no idea they used the prisoners to make fancy clothes.

This was a really engaging read but I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. I just didn’t quite connect to it. I do think it’s an important story that needs to be told but I didn’t feel it.

Reading Next

Due to my current stress levels I’m kind of tempted to ditch my TBR and just read whatever the heck I want. I do however want to try and get to Invictus and Cold Blood at some point.

Cold Blood (Detective Erika Foster, #5)Invictus

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!

Review: Bloody Scotland

Title: Bloody Scotland

By: Lin Anderson,  Christopher BrookmyreGordon BrownAnn CleevesDoug JohnstoneStuart MacBrideVal McDermidDenise Mina , Craig RobertsonSara SheridanE S Thomson and Louise Welsh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fantastic collection of short stories from twelve of Scotland’s best crime writers. Set in twelve iconic buildings there’s a really great mix of stories. From tales of revenge, murder, kidnapping and terrorism to Vikings and a bit of cannibalism I’d say there’s probably something for everyone.

As expected I absolutely loved the stories from my two favourite Scottish crime authors Chris Brookmyre and Stuart MacBride. Brookmyre’s story is set in Bothwell Castle (about a 5 min drive from my house) and reminded me of some of his older books. It’s really funny and had me giggling away on the train to work. MacBride true to form is having another dig at the weather in the Aberdeen area (rain features heavily in all of his books) with a story set in a lighthouse during a hurricane. It’s a very atmospheric story with some brilliant characterisation as always.

Some of the other stories were also brilliant and many from authors I’m less familiar with. I won’t go through them all but definite highlights were Denise Mina’s Edinburgh Castle story which is seriously disturbing, Gordon Brown’s story about a man discovering the truth about his father when he returns for his funeral and E.S. Thomson’s story set in Stanley Mills which creates a brilliant portrait of a not very nice man who gets his comeuppance.

I’m often not too keen on short stories (they’re too bloomin short) but in this I have to say each and every author has created something memorable, with great characters and a real sense of place.

Definitely a book I’d recommend for all crime readers.

I received a copy of this book free from the publishers as part of the blog tour. This has not influenced my review.

The Blurb

In Bloody Scotland a selection of Scotland’s best crime writers use the sinister side of the country’s built heritage in stories that are by turns gripping, chilling and redemptive.

Stellar contributors Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Denise Mina, Ann Cleeves, Louise Welsh, Lin Anderson, Doug Johnstone, Gordon Brown, Craig Robertson, E S Thomson, Sara Sheridan and Stuart MacBride explore the thrilling potential of Scotland’s iconic sites and structures. From murder in an Iron Age broch and a macabre tale of revenge among the furious clamour of an eighteenth century mill, to a dark psychological thriller set within the tourist throng of Edinburgh Castle and a rivalry turning fatal in the concrete galleries of an abandoned modernist ruin, this collection uncovers the intimate – and deadly – connections between people and places.

Prepare for a dangerous journey into the dark shadows of our nation’s buildings – where passion, fury, desire and death collide.

Teaser Tuesday: 19th September 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.

This week my teaser comes from The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington which I won in a Readers First giveaway. This is not the type of book I usually go for but I was tempted in by a very pretty cover and a really intriguing extract. As it’s set in a concentration camp I can’t say it’s an enjoyable read but it’s definitely engaging.

My Teaser

I became hypnotised by the sight of Stripeys tugging garments from a pile. Their hands moved like spiders over each item. Snip went the scissors if something was to be cut. Clink went coins poured into a tray. Money notes rustled. Gold twinkled. Slowly, reluctantly, clumsily, my mind was making the connection between the high quality clothes we altered in the workshop and these suitcases spilling out all over the Department Store floors.

~ Pg 100 The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington


Rose, Ella, Marta and Carla. In another life we might have all been friends together. But this was Birchwood.

As fourteen-year-old Ella begins her first day at work she steps into a world of silks, seams, scissors, pins, hems and trimmings. She is a dressmaker, but this is no ordinary sewing workshop. Hers are no ordinary clients. Ella has joined the seamstresses of Birkenau-Auschwitz.

Every dress she makes could be the difference between life and death. And this place is all about survival.

Ella seeks refuge from this reality, and from haunting memories, in her work and in the world of fashion and fabrics. She is faced with painful decisions about how far she is prepared to go to survive.

Is her love of clothes and creativity nothing more than collaboration wth her captors, or is it a means of staying alive?

Will she fight for herself alone, or will she trust the importance of an ever-deepening friendship with Rose?

One thing weaves through the colours of couture gowns and camp mud – a red ribbon, given to Ella as a symbol of hope.