Where Memories Go


This book began as an attempt to hold on to my witty, storytelling mother with the one thing I had to hand.  Words. Then, as the enormity of the social crisis my family was part of began to dawn, I wrote with the thought that other forgotten lives might be nudged into the light along with hers.

Dementia is one of the greatest social, medical, economic, scientific, philosophical and moral challenges of our times. I am a reporter. It became the biggest story of my life.  (Sally Magnusson)

The experience led Sally to found the music and dementia charity Playlist for Life.

“Touching… There are many moments of heartwarming sentiment. Literary snowdrops grow out of the barren earth… This book is the constant, tenuous but vital reconnection between a child and its mother… A fine book.”  (AA Gill, The Sunday Times)

“The whole point of this book is that it starts with love. It opens out into medicine, philosophy, reportage from both sides of the Atlantic, but it only is able to be the profoundly moving book it is because it is infused with love to begin with.
Books like this are difficult to get right: just a hint of emotional dishonesty, whether self-pity or even lightly veiled self-praise, and they flounder. There’s none of that here, just the opposite: this is a book written with a rare combination of analytical inquiry – Magnusson is clearly appalled by our collective lack of care for those with dementia and determined to do what she can to improve things – and intimate, deeply moving memoir.”   (Scotsman)

“Powerful.” (Guardian)

“A wonderful book… Part memoir and part manifesto for how we should treat older people, it had me hooked from the moment I picked it up. It’s pitch-perfect in the way it describes what sufferers’ families go through… It’s had me enthralled. It helps that Magnusson is a journalist and tackles the subject with insight and perspicacity. It should be compulsory reading for every doctor and nurse, because it reminds us that behind every patient with dementia, there are friends and families who are grieving for the person that we will never know.”  (Max Pemberton, The Telegraph)

“Moving. “(The Times)

“Sally Magnusson set out to write a book about dementia and in this she has succeeded wonderfully. But Where Memories Go is also – perhaps primarily – a book about love… Although this book is full of interesting facts, with forays into laboratories, hospitals and care homes, tenderness is its most striking quality. It is a description of a terrible disease, but also of redemptive love.” (Mail on Sunday)

“It is impressive that a book that can be so clear-eyed in its reporting can often leave the readers’ eyes brimming… A brave, compassionate, tender and honest portrait of a mother and family that also informs a conversation we all need to be having. I daresay this book will prove to be what Mamie felt so frustrated in her declining years at not being: useful.” (Metro)

“A deeply moving, yet ultimately triumphant story of a family coping with the loss of a loved one… Written with extraordinary empathy and tenderness… What stands out most amid the chaos and heartache are not sadness and gloom, but rather the strength of human love and the versatility of the human spirit, as we witness the family bravely coming to terms with their bereavement. A shining example of courage in adversity.” (The Lady)

“Moving, funny, warm account of her mother’s demise and a clarion call for change.” (Mail on Sunday (You Magazine))

“A heartfelt memoir about the love between parents and children.” (Good Housekeeping)

“It is an emotional book, beautifully written, well observed, and important for all of us who at some stage or another may be caught up in a similar tragedy… It is hard to read it without weeping.” (Magnus Linklater West Highland Press – Books of the Year 2014)

“Sally Magnuson’s new book, radiating artistry and integrity, is an inspiring and extraordinarily gripping testament to a mother with dementia and to the enduring grace of love.”  (WI Life)

“A heart rending and touching portrait… incredibly moving.” (Psychologies)

“Scottish BBC journalist Magnusson writes movingly and beautifully about her love for her mother, Mamie Magnusson, a journalist who struggled as Alzheimer’s robbed her of her memory and her gift with words… Much of her beautifully written memoir is an appeal to readers to treat people with dementia with dignity rather than focus only on treating them with drugs… This memoir should go a long way toward easing any shame that families feel about loved ones with Alzheimer’s.” (Booklist)

“This is an extraordinarily moving memoir which is, at the same time, a fascinating exploration of a condition that touches virtually every family. This book will help our understanding.” (Alexander McCall Smith)

“I was bowled over by this book. Intensely moving and inspiring, it is as much about living, laughing and family life as it is about loss and death. I read it in one sitting and thought about it again and again.” (Joanna Lumley)

“A brave story of a family’s love for their mother, told with affection, steadfastness and humour – and a cool-headed battle-cry to do more and better.” (Sarah Brown, global campaigner for Health and Education)

“Never has the subject of dementia been dealt with so movingly and with such penetrating intelligence. Sally Magnusson writes with the deep love of a daughter, and the calm professionalism of a journalist. The result is a work of genuine significance, that brings understanding and analysis to an affliction that thousands of families must face in the years ahead. A beautiful and important book.” (Magnus Linklater, Times columnist, Scottish commentator and former editor of The Scotsman)

“I was in tears on the very first page.” (Kirsty Wark)

“The story of remarkable women from a remarkable family living through the journey of dementia. At times funny and heartening, and at times desperately sad, it is an inspiration to others who will walk this path. All who work in the field need to read this and reflect on what we can do to improve on the services we currently provide.” (Dr June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre, Stirling University)

“A wonderful book.” (Dr Frank Gunn-Moore, molecular neurobiologist)

“A lovely book – so intimate and truthful, painful and joyous. “(Liz Lochhead, National Poet for Scotland)

“This is simply beautiful, honest, piercingly intelligent, page-turning and written from the heart. A stunning piece of writing and experience.” (Alistair Moffat, author, broadcaster and book festival director)

“A remarkable and courageous book which will have immense positive benefits for many different people – those who care, those who are entering the long walk into the gloaming, and those who are responsible for making and implementing policy. Mostly dementia does not alight simply on one person: its eddies can encompass a whole family. This book tells one such story in an exquisite, but sometimes painful way.” (Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, philosopher, former chair of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care of Older People and President of Alzheimer Scotland)

“Beautifully written and honest.”(Candis Magazine)

“A life-changing book… shot through on every page with insights about love, the strength of family life and the enduring human spirit… Where Memories Go is a triumph over the darkness of dementia.” (Sunday Post)

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