Set in New Zealand, “Remember Me” Asks ‘Are Some Secrets Best Left Buried?’

by | Apr 10, 2023

Snow-Capped Ruahines Mountain Range in New Zealand North Island
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Last updated on November 17th, 2023

Featured image:  The Ruahine Range in the North Island of New Zealand  | Photo by Geoff McKay, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A fascinating story set in New Zealand’s North Island

by Carolyn Ray, Editor, JourneyWoman

Set in New Zealand, Charity Norman’s 2022 book Remember Me” tells the story of a well-respected physician who develops Alzheimer’s disease in his 70s. After hiding the symptoms for years, it finally escalates to the point where his youngest daughter, Emily, comes from London to live with him in a small rural community in on the North Island of  New Zealand, near Wellington.

The progression of the disease is heartbreaking, as Emily finds her father’s handwritten notes around the house. The notes cover everything from turning off the gas to reminding Felix of his children and grandchildren’s names.  I’m only a few pages in when I can taste the fear of Alzheimer’s – not just for the person experiencing it but also for the caregiver.

Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible degeneration of the brain that causes disruptions in memory, cognition, personality, and other functions that eventually lead to death from complete brain failure. It is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases. Dementia results from a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain.

According to the World Health organization, more than 55 million people have dementia worldwide, and over 60% live in low-and middle-income countries. Every year, there are nearly 10 million new cases. (Source: World Health Organization). Almost two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women and 73% are age 75 or older. (Source: Alzheimer’s Society)

Click Here to Buy or Download "Remember Me"

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Tangerine Book Cover

A personal and surprising collection of secrets and stories

Until I spoke with Norman at her home in New Zealand, I didn’t realize just how personal this story is for her. Her writing flows so well, showing such an intuitive understanding of the character. In conversation, I learn that her mother had Alzheimer’s, making it both poignant and cathartic to write. In real life, Norman didn’t get to say goodbye to her mother. In her book, she gave her story a beautiful and different ending, perhaps the one her mother would have wanted. 

There’s also another story that is core to the novel, which is about a young woman who mysteriously disappeared in the majestic yet fearsome Ruahine Range 25 years prior. This area is not for the novice hiker — it’s said to have steep terrain and dense native bush with rock-strewn gullies that carry torrents of water in the wet season. No doubt Norman had a sense of the Māori meaning of Ruahine,“wise woman”, when she chose this rural area as the location for her book. There’s an undercurrent of danger and mysticism to these mountains, and I discovered there are indeed people who have gone missing in them.

“Remember Me” is a collection of experiences and secrets that make for a surprising love story, but also a “rollicking good tale”, as Norman puts it. Honestly, I’m in awe of her storytelling and can’t wait to dig into her other books. And best of all, I have a new friend in New Zealand, which I hope to visit soon.

About Author Charity Norman

Born in Urganda, Charity was brought up in draughty vicarages in Yorkshire and Birmingham, and met her future husband under a lorry in the Sahara. She worked as a barrister in York Chambers, until – realising that her three children had barely met her – she moved with her family to New Zealand and began to write.

She has published nine books and has just finished writing her tenth. In addition to Remember Me, these include: After the Fall,  The Secrets of Strangers, The New Woman, and See You in September. 

Learn more from our book club partner Tina Hartas from TripFiction in this video here. 

Author Isabel Allende surrounded by books

Charity Norman

Book Club Discussion Questions

We may not get through all of these, but here are some thoughts to start our discussion!

1. Have you travelled to New Zealand and specifically the North Island? Did anything about the book’s setting feel familiar? Why, or why not?

2. What was your favourite passage in the book and why?

3. Has anyone close to you had dementia or a similar condition? Did the portrayal of Felix’s deterioration ring true?

4. Felix leaves himself notes: to feed the dogs, to brush his teeth, how to operate his can opener, not to trust “the man who phones about my computer”. (Pages 14-15) If you couldn’t trust your short-term memory or cognitive abilities, what notes might you leave for yourself?

5. The author describes a log book where hikers check in and leave updates about their intended onward routes. Why do you think this is? Do you ever go hiking when on your own travels? Do you take any similar measures?

6. When you finally got the chance to read Felix’s letter to Emily and Raewyn, did it surprise you?

7. On Page 262, Felix refers to a “bach”.  In New Zealand, a bach is a small holiday home.  Can you think of any words from your home country, region or town that might be unfamiliar to people who have never lived or travelled there? [See for more information about the term “bach”.]

8. Also on Page 262, Felix talks about the time before mobile phones, texts and emails were common.  How was your experience of travel different in those days?

9. Did the book make you want to travel to New Zealand?


Click Here to Buy or Download "Remember Me"

Buy on here
Buy on Amazon/Audiobooks here
Buy on Booksamillion here

You can help support our Book Club: When you purchase a book using the links on our site, JourneyWoman receives a small commission from the bookseller. This is one of you ways you can help us maintain our beautiful website and editorial content.  

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Your Imagination Can Take You Places

Now more than ever, we’re finding camaraderie and inspiration through novels. Join us each month as we discuss a different book, suggested by our community, about a faraway land.

As the CEO and Editor of JourneyWoman, Carolyn is a passionate advocate for women's travel and living the life of your dreams. She leads JourneyWoman's team of writers and chairs the JourneyWoman Women's Advisory Council and Women's Speaker's Bureau. She has been featured in the New York Times, Toronto Star and Zoomer as a solo travel expert, and speaks at women's travel conferences around the world. In March 2023, she was named one of the most influential women in travel by TravelPulse and was the recipient of a SATW travel writing award in September 2023. She is the chair of the Canadian chapter of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member Women's Travel Leaders and a Herald for the Transformational Travel Council (TTC). Sometimes she sleeps. A bit.


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