There your heart lies

Mary Gordon, 1949-

Book - 2017

"From the award-winning, much loved writer: a deeply moving novel about an American woman's place during the Spanish Civil War, the lessons she took from it, and how her story will shape her granddaughter's path. Marian cut herself off from her conservative, wealthy Irish Catholic family when she volunteered during the Spanish Civil War--experiences she has always kept to herself. Now in her nineties, she shares her Rhode Island cottage with her granddaughter Amelia, a young woma...n of good heart but only a vague notion of life's purpose. As the narrative unfolds, their daily existence is intertwined with Marian's secret past--the blow to her youthful idealism when she witnessed the brutalities on both sides of Franco's war, and the romance that left her adrift in Spain with yet another family who misunderstood her. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she speaks at last about what happened to her in Spain--which compels Amelia to journey to Spain herself, to reconcile Marian's past with her own uncertain future. With the exquisite female bond at its core, this novel of how character is forged in a particular moment in history and passed down through the generations will linger long with its readers"--

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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Published
New York : Pantheon Books [2017]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
320 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9780307907943
0307907945
Main Author
Mary Gordon, 1949- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Gordon (The Liar's Wife, 2014) performs another astute and powerful variation on the Jamesian theme of American innocents abroad. A student at Vassar in 1936, Marian Taylor breaks the bonds to her wealthy, harshly conservative Irish Catholic family in the wake of her father's disastrous reaction to her beloved brother Johnny's homosexuality, sailing off to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War with Johnny's lover, a doctor. Marian's enmity toward the church intensifies as she witnesses the consequences of its unholy alliance with the brutal dictator Franco. Gordon dramatically illuminates Marian's grueling, even gothic ordeals, first as a medical assistant steeped in atrocities, then during her near-incarceration in a Spanish village as a war widow after the briefest of marriages. The time frame shifts between the past and 2009, when Marian, 92 and ailing in Rhode Island, reveals her hidden past for the first time to her thoughtful granddaughter Amelia, another innocent on the verge of a harsh awakening. Gordon's masterful pairing of passionately descriptive, stunningly revelatory action scenes with Marian and Amelia's churning interior monologues convey with arresting insights and startling immediacy the intersection of brutality and faith, the "voluptuous appeal of tyranny," the infectious nature of fear and hate, and the lifesaving courage of love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Gordon is a go-to writer for serious fiction lovers, who will be rallied by a national promotional effort and author tour. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In her nineties, Marian is living comfortably with granddaughter Amelia in a Rhode Island cottage. But a cancer diagnosis compels her to reveal experiences during the Spanish Civil War she's kept hidden, especially as she cut herself off from her rich, conservative Irish Catholic family, which disapproved of her volunteering. Amelia is inspired to travel to Spain, seeking both closure for Marian and a direction for herself. Big promotion.. Copyright 2016 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Who are you? Who am I? Those are the questions that echo throughout Gordon's (Final Payments; Pearl) latest novel. In 1937, Marian enters into a marriage of convenience with Russell, her late brother's lover, and goes with him to Spain, where he works as a doctor in support of the Republicans opposing Franco's Fascist regime. Both Marian and Russell are horrified and disillusioned by the infighting between the communists and anarchists, and by the atrocities committed on all sides of the struggle. In 2009, Marian's granddaughter, Amelia, stays with Marian while she tries to find direction, and eventually hears the stories of Marian's turbulent past. While this novel's structure of building a narrative across alternating timeframes is common in contemporary fiction, an unusual element here is that we sometimes get the same events depicted twice: first through the third person, and then through Marian telling her story to Amelia. This way, we see Marian's attempts to attach meaning and significance to particular events, and Amelia's disinterest or boredom with parts of the story, as well as her interpretations of her grandmother's meaning. VERDICT As Amelia explores her grandmother's story in this sharply observed text, her misguided attempt to bring closure flirts with, but thankfully doesn't succumb to, a Hollywood ending. All Gordon fans will appreciate. [See Prepub Alert, 11/7/16.]—Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2017 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In 1937, Marian Rabinowitz (née Taylor) is 19 years old and newly married—in name only—to a Jewish doctor who had been her brother's lover. She has left behind Vassar and her bitter, Catholic Park Avenue family and is on her way to Spain with her husband to tend to the wounded fighting against Franco. Their marriage is a ticket out of Dodge for Marian and a respectable cover for Russell, and Marian in particular is giddy with the possibilities she hopes her courageous new life will allow. Her idealism, however, doesn't last long. Working in hospitals, she quickly comes to face the grim reality of both war and the limitations of her own circumstances. In this commendable new novel, Gordon (The Liar's Wife) presents Marian both at the beginning of her adult life and at the end, a woman in her 90s, living in Rhode Island with her 20-something granddaughter Naomi, who knows nothing of her grandma's earlier escapades until, not quite on her deathbed, Marian begins to tell the story of how, after her first husband left Spain, she fell in love with a Spanish doctor who died suddenly. Marian went on to spend 12 years in Spain, finding both despair and resilience. Marian's story eventually compels Naomi to begin an adventure of her own, hoping to understand more of the loss and renewal that shaped her grandmother. While much of the novel relies on heavy exposition and a structure that feels somewhat artificial, Marian is a delightful, absorbing character, illuminating both a period and a place. (May) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"From the award-winning, much loved writer: a deeply moving novel about an American woman's place during the Spanish Civil War, the lessons she took from it, and how her story will shape her granddaughter's path"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Sharing her Rhode Island cottage with a granddaughter who has not yet discovered her life's purpose, ailing nonagenarian Marian reflects on how as a young woman she cut herself off from her wealthy, conservative Irish Catholic family to volunteer in the Spanish Civil War.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"From the award-winning, much loved writer: a deeply moving novel about an American woman's place during the Spanish Civil War, the lessons she took from it, and how her story will shape her granddaughter's path. Marian cut herself off from her conservative, wealthy Irish Catholic family when she volunteered during the Spanish Civil War--experiences she has always kept to herself. Now in her nineties, she shares her Rhode Island cottage with her granddaughter Amelia, a young woman of good heart but onlya vague notion of life's purpose. As the narrative unfolds, their daily existence is intertwined with Marian's secret past--the blow to her youthful idealism when she witnessed the brutalities on both sides of Franco's war, and the romance that left her adrift in Spain with yet another family who misunderstood her. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she speaks at last about what happened to her in Spain--which compels Amelia to journey to Spain herself, to reconcile Marian's past with her own uncertain future. With the exquisite female bond at its core, this novel of how character is forged in a particular moment in history and passed down through the generations will linger long with its readers"--

Review by Publisher Summary 4

From the award-winning novelist Mary Gordon, here is a book whose twentieth-century wisdom can help us understand the difficulties we face in the twenty-first: There Your Heart Lies is a deeply moving novel about an American woman’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War, the lessons she learned, and how her story will shape her granddaughter’s path.Marian cut herself off from her wealthy, conservative Irish Catholic family when she volunteered during the Spanish Civil War—an experience she has always kept to herself. Now in her nineties, she shares her Rhode Island cottage with her granddaughter Amelia, a young woman of good heart but only a vague notion of life’s purpose. Their daily existence is intertwined with Marian’s secret past: the blow to her youthful idealism when she witnessed the brutalities on both sides of Franco’s war and the romance that left her trapped in Spain in perilous circumstances for nearly a decade. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she finally speaks about what happened to her during those years—personal and ethical challenges nearly unthinkable to Amelia’s millennial generation, as well as the unexpected gifts of true love and true friendship.Marian’s story compels Amelia to make her own journey to Spain, to reconcile her grandmother’s past with her own uncertain future. With their exquisite female bond at its core, this novel, which explores how character is forged in a particular moment in history and passed down through the generations, is especially relevant in our own time. It is a call to arms—a call to speak honestly about evil when it is before us, and to speak equally about goodness.