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Heartwood: A Novel (Werner Family Saga Book 5) [Kindle Edition]

Belva Plain
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $2.00 (25%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Few authors have understood the tender intricacies of relationships better than the incomparable Belva Plain. For three decades her deeply moving epics have captivated the hearts and imaginations of readers everywhere. Now, in her final novel, she comes full circle with the themes she took up in her very first work, Evergreen, bringing us this unforgettable story of family and friendship, love and marriage, the challenges of life and the true secret of happiness.

Though Iris Stern considers herself a modern woman, with a successful academic career and a happy marriage, she still holds steadfast to her old-fashioned sensibilities. But as the mother of three adult children, each with their own lives and burdens to bear, she often finds those sensibilities called into question when confronted with the choices her children have made.

For one of Iris’s daughters, it’s the choice of a fresh start in New York City—and a last chance to save her troubled marriage. While Laura and Robbie cope with an impending separation and its effect on Iris’s young granddaughter, Iris herself must come to grips with the discovery of a long-held family secret. But it’s an emotional parting of another kind that looms most prominently on Iris’s horizon—as neither her beloved husband, nor the solidity of her own marriage, is immune to the ravages of time.

Through separations and reunions, the changes we cannot avoid and the love that sustains, Iris will weather whatever lies ahead with a faith that cannot be shaken. Like the inmost rings of a tree that abide through the generations, she will be as strong as heartwood.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Belva Plain
“Belva Plain doesn’t know how not to write a bestseller.”—Newsday
“Belva Plain is in a class by herself.”—The New York Times
“[Plain] offers . . . compelling stories about women coping with life’s crises.”—People
“Belva Plain is one of the greatest storytellers of our time.”—Rave Reviews
“[Belva Plain] writes with authority and integrity.”—San Francisco Chronicle

From the Hardcover edition.


Praise for Belva Plain
“Belva Plain doesn’t know how not to write a bestseller.”—Newsday
“Belva Plain is in a class by herself.”—The New York Times
“[Plain] offers . . . compelling stories about women coping with life’s crises.”—People
“Belva Plain is one of the greatest storytellers of our time.”—Rave Reviews
“[Belva Plain] writes with authority and integrity.”—San Francisco Chronicle

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1292 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385344120
  • Publisher: Bantam (February 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004C43GJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,194 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars profound look at the Stern family February 9, 2011
Family matriarch Iris Stern feels she has had a happy marriage and a great late career as a college professor. When her husband Theo suffers a massive heart attack, Iris knows she loves her spouse and her adult children, but the needs of her kids are not hers and their decisions are definitely not hers.

In California Robby McAllister loses his college teaching job due to cutbacks. He and his wife Laura, Iris' daughter returns to New York to be near her family. As he fails to land a position, she thrives with a fixer upper Victorian and a catering business. An upset Robby flees to his family home and store in Ohio, but Laura remains in New York with their daughter and meets Nick. Iris has her own issues with an ethical question of what is right in accordance with her deep Jewish faith vs. what Theo desires as well as how to handle a secret he concealed from her.

The late Belva Plain takes her readers back to where it all began with Evergreen as she provides a profound look at the Stern family. The cast is strong, but remains true to their personalities yet the character driven story line can stand alone. Ms. Plain, who died in October, pays homage to herself with a depth few authors ever achieve.

Harriet Klausner
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belva Plain's moving final novel February 16, 2011
Belva Plain's final novel, HEARTWOOD, is a moving story layered in psychological reflection, which has more depth than any simple drama or ordinary work of fiction. This is a book that delves deeply into the psychology of older parents and their adult children, presenting a striking image of one mother's deep-seated need for perfection and impulse to manage her family long past the time when she should stop. This seems a common psychology for many mothers, who support it using the rationale that "it's only because I want them to be happy and successful." We've all known mothers who approach their grown families in this way, and Iris Stern is certainly one who is susceptible to this kind of thinking. She ultimately faces coming to terms with the unpredictability of life's choices and the eventuality of having to accept who her loved ones really are.

HEARTWOOD begins with a decades-long account of the lives of Iris and Theo Stern and their family. They are a Jewish American couple who present a classic picture of the American Dream --- an aging, affluent pair who will soon enter their golden years, having enjoyed separate career paths and feeling fulfilled in having raised their four children well. Iris is a successful college professor, while Theo runs a private practice as a physician. Everyone looks up to them, and together they make ideal parents. They are educated and supportive, enjoy their children's company, and both consistently put a great degree of effort into each and every member of their family.

The Sterns' life story details the many fine and fading years of their devoted marriage and presents the unique challenges that sometimes come with enjoying success.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars BELVA PLAIN WAS A "GIANT" IN HER GENRE July 28, 2011
By magstat
The late, great Belva Plain passed away in October, 2010 at the age of 95. I initially discovered her in the late 1970's with her first novel, EVERGREEN, an historical family saga that immediately drew its readers into the story line and the unforgettable characters. This first Belva Plain novel was such a strong, well-written saga, in fact, that none who had loved it, as I did, would want to miss the opportunity to read Ms. Plain's last novel, HEARTWOOD, which brings the story of the Stern family full-circle.
Although I have read every novel that Belva Plain has ever written, none of them--including HEARTWOOD--has ever reached the heights that she achieved with EVERGREEN. HEARTWOOD is a much shorter book than EVERGREEN and, thus, cannot include the depth of detail found in that first immortal novel. Very few generational sagas deserve to stand alongside EVERGREEN. Exceptions might be THE THORNBIRDS (an Australian saga), A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE (a British saga), MILLIONAIRE'S ROW (an Irish saga), and a very limited number of other books of that genre.
HEARTWOOD, to be fair, must be judged with an eye to the author's circumstances. Her career as a novelist began when Belva Plain was about 60 years old--late in comparison to most authors. She consistently provided her loyal readers with an engrossing novel every year or two thereafter--each of them very enjoyable. HEARTWOOD, released about four months after her death, may be somewhat less "layered" than her earlier works but, then again, it is only fair to keep in mind that she was in her nineties at the time of its writing and, she was probably more concerned in completing the circle of the Stern family before her death. Let's give her a break, readers!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Belva tugs at your heart. February 20, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I will miss future stories from Belva Plain. This last story lets the readers share family memories common to all of us. Belva was a master at painting a background with words and letting her charcters fill in the details. I loved all her books. I am grateful that she shared her talent with us. The characters in this story show us that life is not always what we think it should be.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Sagas got less interesting after evergreen.
Published 9 days ago by Geraldine A. Bargdill
4.0 out of 5 stars I want to read more books by Belva Plain
This was my first Belva Plain book and it certainly won't be my last. I love the way she develops her characters and she really had a hold on the interpersonal relationships... Read more
Published 11 days ago by Lily
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the book
I can always count on Belva Plain for a book full of love and joy. Thank you ever so much.
Published 16 days ago by Cecilia Schermaul
5.0 out of 5 stars I know for me it all started with Evergreen. ...
I know for me it all started with Evergreen. Once you read that, you will be hooked on this family saga and have to read all the stories that come after. Read more
Published 18 days ago by suburban housewife
4.0 out of 5 stars a good Belva Plain book
as always, a good Belva Plain book.
Published 1 month ago by Marlene
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful Book
Published 1 month ago by Mary Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by Daisy
4.0 out of 5 stars Again a great book by Belva Plain.
This is a soft and touching novel. Bella Plain again writitititwes from her heart with passion and understanding. it makes one happy to have these books to read
Published 2 months ago by Sheene
4.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written
Not as good as Evergreen which I read years ago but still a beautiful well written story about truth and how we live our lives!
Published 3 months ago by Alice Levas
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Totally enjoyed this book
Published 3 months ago by Paul E. Whitman
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