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Harvesting the Heart Library Binding – April 9, 2009
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- Library Binding : 453 pages
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- ISBN-13 : 978-1442006249
- ISBN-10 : 1442006242
- Publisher : Paw Prints; Reprint edition (April 9, 2009)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,454,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Paige, an eighteen year old woman from the other side of the tracks in Chicago, runs away to Boston to escape the fact that she'd just had an abortion. She is unable to face her father and lover in the wake of this traumatic event. And since her mother left when she was five, never to be seen again, running away comes naturally to her. In Boston, she meets Nicholas, and marries him a short time later, causing him to be all but disowned from his rich Boston Brahmin family. Although she had aspirations of art school to develop her talents, she puts it all aside to work two jobs to put Nicholas through medical school. Once he becomes a cardiologist, she accidentally becomes pregnant which basically means her own career and dreams will never come true, since Nicholas wants her to be a stay at home mother. Following in her mother's footsteps, she bolts, leaving Nicholas to deal with their three month old son despite his extremely hectic schedule. She finds her mother with the help of a private detective, while meanwhile Nicholas reconciles with his own parents so they can help care for Max, the baby.
So far so good. This story kept me riveted so far. Then it fell apart. Paige decides she has loved Nicholas and Max all along and her real role is to be a wife and mother. (GAG. GAG. REALLY? She doesn't get to have a life of her own after all? She's just going to be stand in the wings being her husband's cheerleader)???? Even worse, she returns to her family only to discover Nicholas vehemently will not take her back. I mean, who can blame him? She just took off with no warning, no discussion, leaving him with a baby he had no clue how to care for.
Paige has decided they're meant to be together and she loves him. SO SHE STARTS STALKING HIM. Yes, stalking. First she sleeps on the front lawn until Nicholas's controlling parents decide to let her stay with them against their son's wishes because they've had a completely inexplicable makes-no-sense change of heart with regards to her. Then she follows him around. She sneaks into the hospital and follows him around there, even though he's a cardiologist working on frail, sick people and her presence could be disruptive and distract him, resulting in people dying. She becomes a volunteer at the hospital and specifically requests to work with him so he can't get away from her. He is trying to do his job, which is saving lives, while his crazy stalker wife is popping up in patient's rooms. She starts drawing pictures of the patients and Nicholas and taping it to his office door, and instead of barring this crazy woman from the hospital, the administrators decide to make a gallery of her work. So you know, her dream of being an artist comes true despite never being able to live the life she wanted. GAG.
I found the book difficult to read after the stalking started. I'm a feminist, and I think equality means both sexes being held to the same standard. Any estranged husband who stalked his wife the way Paige does Nicholas would be in jail with a restraining order. This behavior is not normal. Piccoult tries to paint her as a sympathetic character-I saw someone who deserted their family without a word of warning and then stalked and harassed her husband when he wouldn't take her back. Not romantic. Not cute. A pattern of unstable, crazy behavior. It disturbs me that this is being passed off as a love story. Clearly someone who is as impulsive and out-of-control as Paige is depicted is not going to magically get better. There will be more desertions, more crazy behavior. She is not normal. And Nicholas is not going to suddenly stop being a workaholic who sees his wife and son as little more than props. The happy ending is not realistic. This is a doomed couple, and it would have been a better story if the author had the courage to say so.
This was published in 1995. Had I read it then, I probably would have had a very different reaction. Like I say in my title, this work didn't age well. Society has drastically changed in the last twenty-four years.
Top reviews from other countries
That's not to say I didn't like it, or it didn't draw me in. I can't say I felt a particular connection to the characters for the majority of the book. I couldn't really get my head around Paige and although I didn't dislike her I didn't really like her either, but at least that gives her a chance to change my mind! I did feel a little sorry for her in the way she was feeling and for not really having an outlet for those feelings but she seemed kind of stubborn and unwilling to find help, right up to the point where she cracked. By that point I didn't really feel sympathetic so much anymore because of the way she was dealing with her feelings.
At first I really didn't like Nicholas, he didn't seem right for Paige at all and I found him more than a little self-centred. However by the end of the book he managed to change my mind.
This is another of Picoult's earlier works which has been re-released (something I find frustrating). You can tell it's one of her earlier books but I still thought it was more engaging than Songs of the Humpback Whale or Picture Perfect (which were also re-releases).
In fact, the main characters became less likable as the story progressed, until I couldn't give a jot about either one of them. Arguably, Paige seemed to morph into a besotted teen-type stalker character as far as her own husband was concerned. Towards the end, it was like reading a bad Mills & Boon.
I am given to understand that this was only the second book the author wrote, although it was published after she'd had success with other books. This is a shame - it simply seems like a way of getting already-engaged readers to lay out money for something that had been stashed away initially because it wasn't good enough. After all, if it was, then why wasn't it published earlier? I imagine that the book has probably been re-edited and improved upon but, even so, it just lacked the plotline and sophistication I'd expect from an author of this standing.