Friday, March 28, 2014

A Well-Tempered Heart

Title: A Well-Tempered Heart
Author:  Jan-Philipp Sendker
Publication Information:  Karl Blessing Verlag. 2012. (original German). Other Press LLC. 2013. (translation). 388 pages.
ISBN:  1590516400 / 978-1590516409

Book Source:  This book is a sequel to the book The Art of Hearing Heartbeats which I loved.

Favorite Quote:  "Not all truths are explicable, and not all explicable things are true."

Several years have passed from the point at which The Heart of Hearing Heartbeats ends. Julia has not returned to Burma since that original trip almost ten years ago. She is living her life alone, having ended her last significant relationship. She is successful in her career. She still sometimes receives letters from U Ba, her half-brother in Burma. Yet, she does not respond.

One day, she begins to hear a voice in her head. Someone who leads her to question where she is in life and the choices she makes. Someone who causes her to walk away from her job. Someone who makes her question her own sanity.

She wants to make the voice stop. This leads her back to Burma and introduces the ideas of past lives and souls that need resolution of that past. It leads her to the story of Nu Nu. That story is one of war, of loss, and of choices. It leads to the story of Nu Nu's children, who lived the consequences of their mother's choices. It leads to new life choices by Julia.

I spent the bulk of this book comparing it to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. Perhaps that is unfair, but that is what I did. This book is not the fairy tale the first one was. This book is a much darker story. This book is less lyrical and poetic, perhaps because of the darkness.

While the first book was about unconditional love no matter what the circumstances, this book is about the loss associated with love. "Every great happiness entailed a correspondingly great sorrow. That every beginning already contained its own end, that there was no love without the pain of parting, that every hand eventually turned cold."

I enjoyed this story, but not as much as I did the first book. I do not know what my reaction would have been had I not read the first book. As U Ba says in this book, "I have no point of comparison .... That is the secret of a happy life."

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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