Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Well-Tempered Heart by Jan-Philipp Sendker

Paperback: 388 pages
Genre: Romantic Fiction
Publisher: Polygon 2014
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: 'The deep blue morning sky was clear as a bell the day my life lurched off course'.
Favourite Quote: ''Not all truths are explicable and not all explicable things are true'',he once told me.
Review Quote: 'This is the kind of stunningly perfect novel that changes lives' --Claire Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author
My Opinion: .A sensitive and beautifully told story

I have been looking forward to reading this sequel to the touching love story that was 'The Art of Hearing Heartbeats' and it certainly has not disappointed me. The author has written a novel that will entertain and also make you think about the very meaning of our modern life style as it mixes Eastern and Western cultures. I was truly transported back to the wonderful country of Burma/Myanmar as I was in the previous novel.

A sensitive and beautifully told story about the protagonist Julia's quest for happiness, as despite a successful career as a lawyer she has much unhappiness in her private life. Niggling questions about her lifestyle play on her mind, leaving her feeling mentally and physically exhausted. With the help of a girl friend Julia decides that she should return to her father's homeland of Burma, which she had last visited ten years previously. Reunited with her half brother U Ba, she sets out to find answers to her many questions about life and love, that are manifesting themselves as voices in her head. Julia is very disturbed and it is some time before she reveals her worries to her brother. His way of helping her is to take her to visit a village elder and have her listen to the tragic story of her sister. An uncertain future, certain death and a tale of woe that gets under Julia's skin but helps her in her own search for peace of mind.

I found the romantic spiritualism in this book moving but if you are at all sceptical you may find this aspect of the story spoils the novel for you. Read with an open heart for this is a truly moving and sensitive tale, set in a place I have found to be as magical as it sounds on paper in real life.

My review of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats can be read here

Author Profile

Biography/Interview Courtesy of Amazon 

Jan-Philipp Sendker, born in Hamburg in 1960, was the American correspondent for Stern from 1990 to 1995, and its Asian correspondent from 1995 to 1999. In 2000 he published 'Cracks in the Great Wall', a non-fiction book about China. 'The Art of Hearing Heartbeats' is his first novel. He lives in Berlin with his family.

*Can you describe your book in 10 words or fewer?
A story about the magical power of love.
*Where did the idea for the book come from?
Very often people ask me how I got an idea. I always say: The ideas get me. I seriously don't know where they come from. That is part of the magic and mystery of being a novelist. Writing for me is like an adventure, a journey I take myself on hoping to learn and discover new things along the way.
*The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is your first novel. Have you always wanted to be a novelist?
Yes. Even as a thirteen year old school boy it was my dream to become a novelist. I wrote poems and started at least ten different novels when I was a teenager, never got beyond page 20. Discouraged I took a break for almost twenty years and started writing The Art of Hearing Heartbeats when I was 37 years old.
*Which writers do you think influenced you?
Many. Among them are Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Albert Camus, Arundhati Roy, Thomas Bernhard.

The biographical information and photo used in this post are with thanks to the following websites, where you can also find more information about the author and his writing.

Amazon Author Profile    Goodreads Author Profile    YouTube - The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

Jan-Philipp Sendker - Official Author Website

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