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Where My Heart Used to Beat: A Novel Paperback – February 7, 2017
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From Publishers Weekly
The subject of war is not new to Faulks, who has explored both world wars in many of his previous works. In his 13th novel, he examines the vagaries of human nature when under siege, primarily through the eyes of Robert Hendricks, who was at the front in WWII and whose father died in WWI. Readers first meet Hendricks in 1980, when he's an accomplished British psychiatrist visiting New York for a convention. Upon his return home, he receives a letter from Alexander Pereira, a neurologist in France, who explains that he served in WWI with Hendricks's father and has a job proposition for Hendricks. The ensuing relationship between the two men serves as a balm to Hendricks. Through discussions both therapeutic and confessional, he reveals the heart of his war experiences, as well as his postwar work, and finds a kind of closure. Hendricks, whose experiences were harrowing on the one hand and joyous on the otherâhe met his one true love in Italyâcomes to terms with the lonely life he has led since the war. Faulks is renowned and respected for his fresh approach to well-trod topics, such as combat's assault on the human psyche. Here Hendricks posits the decline of humanity in the despicable acts that occur under the guise of war, but still throws himself into trying to repair the mentally and emotionally broken. Despite everything he's experienced, he will not give up on the human race. (Jan.)\n --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“An absorbing look at the intimate connection between love, war, and memory.”―Kirkus (starred review)
“Faulks examines the vagaries of human nature when under siege, primarily through the eyes of Robert Hendricks . . . . whose experiences were harrowing on the one hand and joyous on the other―he met his one true love in Italy. Faulks is renowned and respected for his fresh approach to . . .combat's assault on the human psyche. Here. . .[d]espite everything he's experienced, [Hendricks] will not give up on the human race.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Faulks expertly crafts a harrowing portrait of Hendricks as a man defined by loss. . . . We hope for at least a measure of happiness for this man of sorrows, because Faulks has drawn us so persuasively and passionately into his struggles.”―The Boston Globe
“The passages set in the trenches of Anzio in 1944 are as compelling and alive as anything he has written since Birdsong, his huge-selling 1993 novel about British tunnel-diggers at the Somme. The intricacies of war suit Faulks’s love of research and his mastery of it – how to layer and find ornament in it, what German tanks to mention, what level of ignorance to assume on the part of his reader. And there’s something about the everyday nearness of men being ripped apart by flying metal that raises Faulks’s officer-class prose to its sharpest pitch.” ―The Guardian
“This is a profoundly moving novel. One of its themes is that man prides him/herself on being cerebrally more highly evolved than other animals, and yet even as recently as the 20th century, history has been strewn with man-made atrocities. In Hendricks, Faulks has created a man whose laudable aim to help others contrasts with his inability to take the action needed to help himself.” ―The Independent
“The work of a man ith an eerie mastery of the form in its modern, popular incarnation . . . This is a terrific novel, humming with ideas, knowing asides, shafts of sunlight, shouts of laughter and moments of almost unbearable tragedy.”―The Telegraph
“It's in his . . . evocations of World War II that Faulks’s writing is especially moving and exciting, thanks to a sure combination of historical description . . . and dialogue-rich camaraderie.”―The New York Times Book Review
“Wise and readable. . . . filled with scenes of genuine power.”―Charles Finch, USA Today
“Sebastian Faulks writes like a modern-day Hemingway. . . . [he] manages the amazing --- he takes this story and infuses a level of humor, romance and drama into it that transcends other such tales. . . . [Where My Heart Used to Beat] could be one of the best of all the lost-romance-of-the-war stories of all time, taking its place amidst Casablanca and The Sun Also Rises.” ―BookReporter
“Heartfelt and heartbreaking, insightful and inventive this is Sebastian Faulks at his best.” ―Bite the Book
“Beneath the beautifully depicted landscapes, the vivid images of war and the detailed research on psychiatry, underneath the layered characters, the exquisite turns of phrase and the engaging, rewarding plot, Faulks seems able to touch a core that very few authors can – studying, detailing and celebrating the human condition and relating that to the reader in a completely unique way.” ―The Bookbag
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Top customer reviews
Robert can’t escape his own memories of lifetime traumas, the impact of the father he never knew, his own memories of sexual desires and much more. As we read the novel we are constantly confronted with stories of love and war, of deep friendships and dramatic loss, of the impact of all of this on our bodies and our minds.
Slowly, the story unfolds as Robert relates his story to a fellow psychiatrist who invites him to his island home, off the coast of France. We move between the present and the past, through WWII Tunisa, Italy and London, learn of Robert’s deep love for one woman and reflect on lives torn apart by the destructive forces of the 20th Century.
Robert’s gradual discovery of his father’s story informs his life. We are left thinking about whether any of us can ever be the same after the impacts, directly and indirectly, that war has upon every human being. This novel is one I shall be thinking about for some time.
Most recent customer reviews
The storyline is well drawn, the characters develop in a well rounded way and the knowledge shown of...Read more