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Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian…

Where My Heart Used to Beat (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Sebastian Faulks (Author)

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2193253,142 (3.19)15
Title:Where My Heart Used to Beat
Authors:Sebastian Faulks (Author)
Info:Vintage Digital (2016), 337 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

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Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks (2016)



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A psychiatrist in his sixties, lonely and single, defined by the losses of his youth – his father in the great war when he was just a baby, his comrades in arms who didn’t come home from the second war, and the woman he fell in love with when he was a soldier, Dr. Robert Hendricks is invited to be the literary executor of an older doctor, a neurologist, who fought in WWI and has memories of Robert’s father during that time.

Character-driven, though by unlikeable characters, [Where My Heart Used to Beat] examines love, memories, and mental illness, which parts of the novel I found interesting. Recommended to readers who enjoy novels about the psychology of experience, but a bit too much of the unlikeable and dark for me. ( )
  countrylife | Feb 3, 2017 |
I’ve read each of Faulks’s novels as they’ve hit paperback, and I’ve never really worked out why I fastened onto him as a modern author to read. I think he’s much better than McEwan, who managed a couple of stonkers early in his career, but then Faulks’s career has never really matched Birdsong… although I thought the story of Human Traces danced about a pretty interesting idea… And that same idea sort of crops up in Where My Heart Used to Beat. Faulks has… odd ideas about consciousness, and the historical origin of human awareness. In a science fiction writer, they’d be understandable, if not even defensible. But Faulks writes lit fic. In Where My Heart Used to Beat, which is set in the 1980s, a UK doctor is invited to a small French island to meet a famous neurologist at the end of his life and career. The neurologist wants the doctor to be his literary executor, partly because he commanded his father during WWI and holds a secret about that, and partly because the doctor’s career hints that he might be receptible to the neurologist’s Big Idea. The narrative dips in and out of the doctor’s life, mostly focusing on WWII, when he was involved in the Allied invasion of Italy. During that time, he met a young Italian woman and weas convinced she was the love of his life; but she turned out to be married, and he never really recovered. And it’s the concept of love, and Faulks’s previously trotted-out theory on inter-brain communication, that provides the substrate for Where My Heart Used to Beat. It’s a very readable novel – Faulks’s prose is never less than readable – and a more coherent one that his last couple… but it doesn’t have the… weight of Human Traces, and so its central premise dosn’t in the slightest convince. Faulks produces polished middle-brow material, and he does it well, much better than McEwan – but every time I read one of his novels I find myself wondering why I continue to read him. I still don’t know. ( )
  iansales | Jan 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The book was an uneven read for me, but ultimately a good one. The writing was beautiful but the format was hard to follow with the narrator jumping back and forth between different years where he compared his experiences with the travesty of war against the few weeks of intense love he felt for Luisa. He wrote of his despair for the human race against his realization of beauty and connectedness when friends reached out to him with compassion. Faulks was at his best describing the horror of his war exper4iences and describing the closeness he felt to those around him experiencing the same brutal conditions. His love for Luisa was not as affecting as it felt he distanced himself from these emotions. ( )
  dallenbaugh | Jan 5, 2017 |
A poignant novel that gradually reveals the life of Robert Hendricks, a psychotherapist, as he struggles to come to terms and understand his own life and to also reconcile his feelings for his father who died when he was only two years old.
It is also a revealing meditation on the nature of otherness or what might be called insanity in others, as Hendricks devotes his career to try to heal his patients and persuade others that his methods are an advance on those already being practised.
During these researches he is contacted by a French doctor, Alexander Pereira, who knew his father in the First World War and who has also followed a career in psychotherapy. Pereira gradually reveals information about Hendricks’ father that has parallels to the son’s life and acts as an analyst to him.
As well as being a wonderfully readable book, the deft writing evokes great sympathy for Hendricks’ dilemma.
  camharlow2 | Nov 24, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Sebastian Faulks's best known book, "Birdsong," published in 1993, is billed as “a novel of love and war.” It is indeed a brilliant and devastating portrayal of the horrors of trench warfare in France during World War I. But its love story is tedious and banal. Which novelist would show up in Faulks's most recent novel – the superb war novelist or the uninspired romantic? Neither. There is a war story in "Where My Heart Used to Beat" and there is a love story but the former isn't brilliant and the latter is as trite and uninteresting as the earlier effort.

Robert Hendricks is a sixty-ish British psychiatrist whose father died in World War I when Robert was a child and whose own war years were the defining chapter of his life. Robert has never married and engages in fleeting relationships that do nothing do relieve his loneliness. Into this solitary life drops the plot device that sets the novel in motion – a mysterious letter from a doctor who knew Robert's father during the war and who has a proposal to offer Robert. Soon we're on a beautiful rocky island off the coast of France and jumping back and forth in time as Robert recounts and relives his war trauma, the love affair that has haunted him for forty years, and his professional efforts to develop a humane and effective way to treat schizophrenia.

But nothing in this novel seems to hang together or is very compelling and the whole doesn't have much of a point. I get it...war inflicts lasting trauma on those who fight it, suppressed memories gnaw at the soul, longing for a lost love is a recipe for loneliness. But two-thirds through I still didn't know where it was going and having finished it, I wasn't sure that the journey was worth taking. ( )
  alpin | Nov 9, 2016 |
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Dark house, by which once more I stand
Here in the long unlovely street,
Doors, where my heart was used to beat
So quickly, waiting for a hand. . .
For Veronica
La bellezza si risveglia l'anima di agire . . .
First words
With its free peanuts and anonymity, the airline lounge is somewhere I can usually feel at home; but on this occasion I was in too much of a panic to enjoy its self-importance.
I'd been to Paris a fair amount in the past.....I liked the art galleries, the Metro with its enchanting station names, the islands in the river and the cathedral with its flying buttresses. It was a very handsome city, more so than London; but there was the smugness to deal with, the speech of grunts and shrugs, the barely concealed affection for the departed Nazi occupier; its void August, lay religiosity and fixation with appearances; the way people listened to and admired themselves in the act of talking; the surliness of its waiters, ticket sellers and shop assistants; the boiling little hotel rooms with their floral wallpaper; its willed ignorance of other cultures.
One thing of value my mother's eyes had known was my father's face; and as I gazed into them I half hoped to see - as one can sometimes catch the lights of a window reflected in another's iris - a small image of him smiling back at me. But there was of course no such thing, merely a mother's glaucous good will. Her eyes had seem me as an infant and a child; when she died she would take with her all that I had been in those years before my mind was formed: the wicker basket at the bedside, my head limp against her chest in sleep; the first words, learning how to walk, the bleeding knees, the schoolroom door, the emergence of something like a personality from the falls and tantrums and striving - all those sensations ad events which to her were daily trials but which for me were defining and all-but holy...all these would now be lost in the abyss of time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0091936837, Hardcover)

On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks, an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer, is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host, and antagonist, is Alexander Pereira, a man whose time is running out, but who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does. The search for sanity takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally - unforgettably - back into the trenches of the Western Front. The recurring themes of Sebastian Faulks's fiction are here brought together with a new stylistic brilliance as the novel casts a long, baleful light over the century we have left behind but may never fully understand. Daring, ambitious and in the end profoundly moving, this is Faulks's most remarkable book yet.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 22 Aug 2015 12:57:16 -0400)

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