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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
When Senate Counsel Carolyn Jourdan returns to the mountains of eastern Tennessee from Washington, DC after the sudden illness of her mother, she has no idea how long she'll be needed to fill in her role as receptionist for her father, the kindly country doctor. She figures at first it will just be two days. But readers can be glad that it wasn't as in Heart in the Right Place, Jourdan takes the reader on a true journey of the heart to the people of eastern Tennessee and through all the trials and tribulations of a small country one-doctor medical practice. One where he might be paid in even a fox carcass if he charged his patients anything at all.

We meet and learn to love the patients in the practice such as the eccentric Miss Hiawatha and the kindly Mike who doesn't hardly know he is handicapped. And then there are the two friends Obie and Kermit. You never know what kind of predicament they are going to get themselves into next and what kind of injuries it's going to cause. Each time they come through the clinic door it's going to be something totally different. The big question on everyone's mind is, will Carolyn stay in eastern Tennessee where she earned $0 in one year or return to her high-power, six-figure job in Washington, DC?

It was recommended I get this book via Amazon's Customers Also Bought feature after I had purchased another book. I clicked on it and read the description. As a long-time medical office employee it sounded right up my alley. But it would appeal to anyone who enjoys sweet stories with quirky characters such as the Mitford series by Jan Karon or anyone who lives the TV series Northern Exposure or Ballykissangel. But these are very real people here, not those from fiction. I laughed and I cried, I read passages out loud to my husband, and I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning two nights in a row to finish it. I can't recommend this book enough. You will want to buy one for yourself and another as a gift for someone you care about.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2007
What a surprise. It looked like a good read, but I couldn't put it down. The first book in a long time that I read in one day. Enjoyable, funny, tear jerker, heart warming all fit this this book.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2008
Readers looking for something touching and personal will certainly enjoy this. It is a fast book to read, mixing humor and poignancy well. If you like A Prairie Home Companion With Garrison Keillor (30th Anniversary Season Celebration) then you will be interested in this. The book does tend toward over-long explanation, especially at the end. The tale could have finished on a more powerful note if it had been three chapters shorter. However, if you are tired of reading books that cram the heroine's love life down your throat, you will certainly enjoy the maturely understated love that may be blossoming for Carolyn here. Just a note of warning to the squeamish, there are graphic descriptions of accidents and surgeries.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
A very good friend recommended this book to me because I don't live very far from the town where the author's father practiced medicine. It turned out to be an excellent recommendation because I don't know when I have enjoyed a book more than I did this one. Being a native of the same area as the author I recognized many of the characters that she describes although they have different names and live a little farther to the east. I even had a relative who was just like Miss Hiawatha. Miss Hiawatha in case you are wondering is one of the many delightful characters that populate this book.

The basic plot of this book follows a powerful Washington DC attorney (the author) who has to take a leave from her job as a Senate council to come back home to East Tennessee to help out her parents. Her father is a doctor in a small town just outside of Knoxville who offers care to anyone and everyone regardless of their ability to pay and he even takes things like chickens in trade. Because of that he can't afford to hire a receptionist when his wife suffers a heart attack and has to take some time off. The author plans on spending a few days helping out but days turn into months and she ends up getting very attached to the job.

As she tries to settle in to her new duties the author runs into a cast of characters that could never be called up from even the most fertile imagination. Besides Miss Hiawatha there is a farmer who has the worst luck in the world and a George Jones like character who gets drunk and drives his lawnmower down the four-lane highway. And those three are just the appetizers. There are parts of this book that will make you laugh so hard that you will cry. Of course with this being the story of a doctor's office there are other very sad stories that will make you cry for other reasons. This author has a distinct talent for causing her readers to get very attached to the characters that she writes about.

On the technical side this is a very well written book and it contains some very thought provoking chapters. The author put a lot of feeling into this book and it shows. Above all though this is just an enjoyable book about some wonderful and sometimes eccentric people who reside in East Tennessee. This was a very good book and it is one that will always hold a special place in my personal library.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I am a retired librarian and inveterate reader. I found Heart in the Right Place to be a delightful book. Carolyn Jourdan makes her characters truly come to life in this charming memoir. While there is much humor in the book, there is also obvious respect for the people of this area. Carolyn's parents come across as caring people, devoted to the wellbeing of those in their community. Carolyn learned that her heart was "in the right place" when she came back home to help after her mother's heart attack. The power, politics, and money of Washington, D.C. somehow paled in comparison with the need to "do the right thing" when her family needed her. I have shared this book with so many readers, and ALL have loved it. I have recommended it to several different book clubs, and it engendered some excellent discussions. I have reviewed the book for several gatherings, and many, many people have remarked how much they enjoyed hearing about the book and/or looked forward to reading it themselves. This is a book that leaves one feeling better about life and our fellow human beings. I look forward to other books by this excellent author!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Heart in the Right Place was everything I wanted it to be when I purchased it a couple of weeks ago on vacation in the Smokies. This story tugs at your heartstrings, making you laugh one minute and cry the next. I was lucky to be in the right place myself and had my copy signed by the author. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a great read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2009
If you want to reminisce about life in rural America, read this book.
If you want to learn about everyday people, read this book.
If you enjoy sappy stories in women's magazines, read this book.
If you want to learn what it's like to be a small-town doctor, read this book.

My opinion? The book is an easy-to-read page turner. That is because the writer's style is conversational and engaging. We all know people like this no matter where we live. There are humorous moments and predictably sad ones as well. What's missing, in my opinion, is real deeper meaning and a clearer understanding of what motivates the author. We get a peek into her spiritual journey which is obviously meant to explain her choices, but it is so basic and trite that it left me with many more questions than answers.

What about the mother? How does she fit into this story? Other than knowing she had a heart attack and reading about her immediate recovery - the mother is nearly absent from this memoir.

Would the author have made the same choice if she had a family of her own? Would her parents have asked the same thing of a son, as they ask of their only child, a daughter? Did the culture of Washington, create the lack of social connection the author intimates? Or, does the author have issues with integrating into society? Why is a grown, supposedly successful lawyer, so haunted by the traumas of growing up we all face?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2007
This is a great book! I couldn't put it down. It's funny! It's entertaining! And on top of that - it's all true.

Maybe it doesn't hurt that I know these people: that the doctor in the book was my family doctor for many years, and that his eventual retirement was a truly sad blow, as well as a tragic day, in the lives of all his patients. Maybe we took his little unpretentious practice for granted while we had it: well, we don't anymore!

L.C. Cate
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2007
As a new resident of the area written about in the book, I just missed the author when I was buying this book - she writes with a true clarity, insight honed by experience with these wonderful people. I am even more looking forward to the years to come in the Great Smoky Mountains. Her books were sold out after I bought the last one in TN-and she will be available for signing and I hope to catch her. I will recommend this book to my family and friends as a meaninful respite from the fantasy sex and violence that so dominates our culture - it is time to hear about real people who do care and do endure.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Senate staffer, smart girl, and Christian Carolyn Jourdan returns from a high power (paying "nearly $100,000 a year") job to her roots in rural Tennessee to help her doctor father, while her mother recuperates, at his small town medical practice, described as (p 177) "an icon," at which he provides excellent service to an array of colorful characters with a wide spectrum of ailments at bargain prices (not exceeding (p 150) $62 in its 40 years in existence). She explains the routine of her unpaid position as, (p 124), "Every day in this place was spent viewing the most personal and critical moments of other people's lives, but from an oddly disjointed perspective." Ms. Jourdan's memoir is an assemblage of unusual and oft-humorous stories about the local folks as remembered during a period of about a year, tales ranging from basic and benign to outlandishly embarrassing. Providing this type of personal information about patients begs the question, What about HIPAA?

Because both her mother (in pharmacology) and father have PhDs, it's no surprise that they (in their seventies at the time of the story) were able to start the practice in the first place. The amazing thing is that they kept at it for so long in spite of the difficulties and sacrifices involved in doing so. Dr. Jourdan regularly provides medical care to anyone who shows up at his office, regardless of his or her ability to pay (which involves, at times, some unique nonmonetary compensation). At first, Carolyn holds out hope of returning to continue in her more glamorous work in D.C. Ultimately, though (readers know at the outset from the dust jacket), she decides to stay in Tennessee and help her family. She describes this career change as (p 295), "I moved myself out of my favorite position as the center of the universe and decided to hang out on the sidelines for awhile." Of Dr. Jourdan and his (consisting mostly of family) staff, a patient says it best, (p 176) "Y'all are just good people."

Although I enjoyed reading: some of the stories of the every day goings-on at the office, the information about rare military vehicles and the section involving open-heart surgery, I couldn't shake the thought that there was something wrong with all that private patient information (even with names changed) made public. The memoir seemed to drag in parts (by mid-book, especially in light of the fact that readers know from the start that she decides to stay, I was ready to hand in the towel, but plodded on to the end). I found the title, which I interpreted as something like, lookatmeIhavemy Heart in the Right Place bothersome. And I was disappointed when, at a certain part later in the book, Ms. Jourdan almost entirely stopped mentioning her mother. To make up for that, an Epilogue or Afterward would have, I think, been appropriate. And who dedicates a book to over a dozen persons? Heart in the Right Place, though only so-so, tells the story of a set of super, selfless, septuagenarians. Better: Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
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