There Your Heart Lies

Mary Gordon's latest, There Your Heart Lies, is a novel of history across generations in which a woman seeks a meaningful life that reconciles her desire for universal justice with the need for personal compassion.

Marian is the ninth child of a wealthy Irish-Catholic family. At 19, she abruptly abandons her rigid upbringing in the wake of her brother Johnny's suicide, after his homosexuality was "discovered" and radically "treated"; the Church and her father knew best. In 1937, Marian boards an ocean liner for Europe to support the Republican anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War. Helping out in a Valencia hospital, she confronts the tangible horrors of ideological war--the torture and the rubble of homes, families and friends torn apart. She also evolves into a woman with passions and disappointments as she falls for a local doctor and bears his son. For 10 years she is stuck in an autocratic Spain searching for a life with some window of hope.

Layered between the chapters of Marian's life in Spain, Gordon tells the "today" story of Marian's settled life in Rhode Island, now 92 years old and cared for by her 22-year-old granddaughter, Amelia, from Los Angeles. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she realizes that her fraught and complicated past needs to be passed on to Amelia, to give her granddaughter a context for her own emerging life.

In There Your Heart Lies, Gordon weaves past and present, personal and public, into a rewarding exploration of recognition and acceptance. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

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