Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Review: The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas

Declared "a writer to watch" ("Publishers Weekly," starred review), "New York Times "bestselling author Maria Duenas pours heart and soul into this story of a woman who discovers the power of second chances.
With her debut novel "The Time in Between," Maria Duenas garnered outstanding acclaim and inspired a TV series, dubbed the "Spanish Downton Abbey" by the media. "USA TODAY "said of the book: "From a terrific opening line to the final page, chapters zip by at a pulsing pace." Now Duenas returns with a novel about a heartbroken woman's attempt to pick up the pieces of her shattered world.
Blanca Perea is a college professor in Madrid who seems to have it all. But her perfect career and marriage start to unravel when her husband of twenty years suddenly leaves her for another woman. Devastated, Blanca is forced to question the life she once had and how well she truly knows herself. She leaves Madrid for San Francisco, where she becomes entrenched in the history of an enigmatic Spanish writer who died decades earlier. The more Blanca discovers about this man, the more she is enthralled by the ill-fated loves, half truths, and silent ambitions that haunted his life.
With lush, imaginative prose and unforgettable characters, "The Heart Has Its Reasons "is a journey of the soul that takes readers from Spain to California, between the thorny past and all-too-real present. It is a story about the thrill of creating one's life anew.

Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: November 11th 2014 by Atria Books (first published 2012)
Terri's Thoughts           

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is November 11th 2014.

I believe this story is a translation that was originally written in Spanish.  I may be wrong as I can no longer find what it was that leads me to believe that.  If so, I have to admit it is one of the better translations I have read.  Most tend to get a little lost in translation however this one did not.

This story divides it's time between the present day with Blanca and the past with stories of Fontana and Carter.  As tends to be the case I was drawn to the story in the past and in particular Carters story.  From his struggle to put himself through school to his adventures and subsequent falling in love in Spain.

Although left largely off the page at the heart of this story is a love story, learning to start over and healing from the past.  I found myself wishing that Blanca's story involved a bit more romance on the page however I understand why it was written the way it was.  I enjoyed the fact that the characters were not young (nor would I categorize them as old) and instead people who have lived half a lifetime and had the battle scars to show for it.  It made it a little more real for me.

I struggled a little bit when the story dug in to the missions in California in the 1800's for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I am not familiar at all with them.  The second is that they do not hold a particular interest to me.  That being said they were the string that tied the story together.

I enjoyed this read and I will look for other works by Duenas.

About the Author

María Dueñas es Doctora en Filología Inglesa y profesora titular de la Universidad de Murcia. Nacida en Puertollano (Ciudad Real) en 1964; casada, dos hijos, siete hermanos, un puñado grande de buenos amigos. Reside en Cartagena.

(From google translate)

Maria Dueñas holds a PhD in English and professor at the University of Murcia Philology. Born in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) in 1964 ; married , two children, seven children, a large handful of good friends. She lives in Cartagena.


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