Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Hutchinson, 2015
Source: Tywyn Public Library
First Sentence: 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.
Review Quote: "A masterpiece…a terrific novel, humming with ideas, knowing asides, shafts of sunlight, shouts of laughter and moments of almost unbearable tragedy" (Toby Clements Sunday Telegraph)
My Opinion: Such a sad story of love and loss with war taking a large part of the narrative. The subject of both World Wars is a recurring theme in the novels of Sebastian Faulks and one he writes about so vividly, though sometimes this can be a little over powering. Another subject that Faulks has written about previously is the condition of the human mind and that is very much part of this latest novel as he explores how much our minds are part of our genetics.
As in his previous novels he manages despite the underlying harrowing parts of the story once again to have produced a compelling page turner. If you find parts difficult to concentrate on just keep going as it is well worthwhile for the heart rending ending.
Précis Courtesy of Goodreads:
"You don't live the life I have without making some enemies."
Having accepted a strange but intriguing invitation to a French island, psychiatrist Robert Hendricks meets the man who has commissioned him to write a biography. But his subject seems more interested in finding out about Robert's past than he does in revealing his own. For years, Robert has refused to discuss his past. After the war ended, he refused to go to reunions, believing in some way that denying the killing and the deaths of his friends and fellow soldiers would mean he wouldn't be defined by the experience. Suddenly, he can't keep the memories from overtaking him. But can he trust his memories and can we believe what other people tell us about theirs?
Moving between the present and past, between France and Italy, New York and London, this is a powerful story about love and war, memory and desire, the relationship between the body and the mind.
Compelling and full of suspense, Where My Heart Used to Beat is a tender, brutal and thoughtful portrait of a man and a century, which asks whether, given the carnage we've witnessed and inflicted over the past one hundred years, people can ever be the same.
I have read the majority of his novels, five of which I have previously reviewed, I am including the links to them for those of you that might be interested.
Devil May Care Engleby Human Traces A Week in December A Possible Life
Video Trailer for 'Where My Heart Used To Beat' ' Courtesy of YouTube and BBC Newsnight'
Sebastian Charles Faulks CBE was born in Donnington, England on April 20th 1953 He is a novelist, journalist, and broadcaster who is best known for his historical novels set in France — The Girl at the Lion D'Or, Birdsong, and Charlotte Grey. He comes from an interesting family background as can be read in this biographical profile.
He is the son of Pamela (Lawless) and Peter Ronald Faulks, a Berkshire solicitor who later became a judge. He grew up in Newbury. His mother was both cultured and highly strung. She introduced him to reading and music at a young age. Her own mother, from whom she was estranged, had been an actress in repertory. His father was a company commander in the Duke of Wellington's Regiment, in which he served from 1939 to 1946. He saw action in Holland, France, Tunisia, Italy (at the Anzio landings), Syria and Palestine. He was wounded three times and awarded an immediate MC after an action against the Hermann Goering Parachute Troops in North Africa in 1942.
His maternal grandfather, Philip Henry Lawless, enlisted in the 1st Battalion, 28th county of London Regiment, otherwise known as The Artists' Rifles in 1914, and served in trench warfare on the Western Front until 1917, when he moved to the 26th Battalion Middlesex Regiment and finished the war in Salonika. He was decorated several times and received the Military Cross in 1918, the standard Victory Medal, the British War Medal and the 1914 Star. He eventually left the Army and returned to work as a wine merchant - his father's original occupation.
His paternal grandfather, Major James Faulks (Major was his name, not a military rank) was an accountant who had previously worked as a schoolmaster at a private boarding school in Tunbridge Wells, while Major's provisions merchant father, William Robert Faulks, supplied dairy products in late Victorian Paddington.
Faulks' father wanted him to become a diplomat. He claims his first ambition was to be a taxi driver until at the age of fifteen, while reading George Orwell, he decided to become a novelist instead. In fact, he is the only member of his paternal family not to be a lawyer; his father and uncle were judges and his brother Edward is a QC specialising in medical negligence.
Faulks was educated at the fee-charging Wellington College and studied English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he won an open exhibition and to which he was elected an honorary fellow in 2007. He took a teaching job at the Dwight-Franklin International School after university while also moving into journalism, becoming a features writer for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, and was recruited by the Independent as Literary Editor in 1986. He became the Deputy Editor of the Independent on Sunday before leaving in 1991 to concentrate on writing. He has been a columnist forThe Guardian (1992-8) and The Evening Standard (1997-9).
He continues to contribute articles and reviews to a number of newspapers and magazines and to broadcast regularly. He wrote and presented the Channel 4 series Churchill's Secret Army, about the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), screened in 1999. Faulks is a team captain on BBC Radio 4's literary quiz The Write Stuff.
Faulks lives with his wife, Veronica (formerly his assistant at The Independent), and their three children William, Holly and Arthur . He works from his study in a top floor flat of a house near Holland Park Avenue, ten minutes from his home, starting work at 10am and finishing at 6pm, regardless of whether he is writing a book or not.
He was appointed a CBE in the Birthday Honours List 2002 for "services to Literature" and he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1994.
Faulks supports West Ham United. He writes about this in "Upton and Other Parks," a contribution to the 1990 football book Saturday's Boys.
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.
Goodreads Author Profile Sebastian Faulks - Biography. Amazon Author Profile
Sebastian Faulks - Facebook Author's Official Website