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

106 customer reviews

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Length: 321 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.

Review

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: 2569 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (February 8, 2011)
  • Publication Date: 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
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #78,827 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 By Bookreporter on February 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 By magstat on July 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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 By Debbie B on 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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