A master at articulating for the reader the heart and soul of her characters, the author once again delivers the magic. The story is told to her granddaughter as remembered. In 1930’s New York, Marian is estranged from her wealthy Irish Catholic family. Looking to escape from their abhorrent values, she marries her dead gay brother’s lover and sails off to volunteer in The Spanish Civil War. The story brims with emotion and thoughtfulness, while marching the characters forward relentlessly in the sweep of history until the circle closes. Magnificent! — Karen Frank
From the award-winning novelist Mary Gordon, here is a book whose twentieth-century wisdom can help us understand the difficulties we face in the twenty-first: There Your Heart Lies is a deeply moving novel about an American woman’s experiences during the Spanish Civil War, the lessons she learned, and how her story will shape her granddaughter’s path.
Marian cut herself off from her wealthy, conservative Irish Catholic family when she volunteered during the Spanish Civil War—an experience she has always kept to herself. Now in her nineties, she shares her Rhode Island cottage with her granddaughter Amelia, a young woman of good heart but only a vague notion of life’s purpose. Their daily existence is intertwined with Marian’s secret past: the blow to her youthful idealism when she witnessed the brutalities on both sides of Franco’s war and the romance that left her trapped in Spain in perilous circumstances for nearly a decade. When Marian is diagnosed with cancer, she finally speaks about what happened to her during those years—personal and ethical challenges nearly unthinkable to Amelia’s millennial generation, as well as the unexpected gifts of true love and true friendship.
Marian’s story compels Amelia to make her own journey to Spain, to reconcile her grandmother’s past with her own uncertain future. With their exquisite female bond at its core, this novel, which explores how character is forged in a particular moment in history and passed down through the generations, is especially relevant in our own time. It is a call to arms—a call to speak honestly about evil when it is before us, and to speak equally about goodness.
About the Author
MARY GORDON is the author of eight novels, including Final Payments, Pearl, and The Love of My Youth; six works of nonfiction, including the memoirs The Shadow Man and Circling My Mother; and three collections of short fiction, including The Stories of Mary Gordon, which was awarded the Story Prize. She has received many other honors, including a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York City.
“In her exceptional new novel, Gordon animates the contradictions and subtleties of her outsider Catholicism, setting them within the dramatic panorama that reads—improbably—as swiftly as an airport paperback. . . . Throughout, Gordon illuminates her scenes with kinetic precision.” —Lorraine Adams, The New York Times Book Review
“A lovely, well-conceived, researched, and executed novel about love, loss, and family . . . Beautifully depicts the horrors of war and the beauty of the human heart that shines even amid darkness. . . Mary Gordon has left big footsteps to fill for any other author writing about this era of history.” —Autumn Markus, New York Journal of Books
“Radiant . . . Gordon journeys deep into the hearts and minds of women, still yearning, even at the last.” —Hamilton Cain, O, The Oprah Magazine
“Deeply affecting.” —The National Book Review
“[A] challenging, heartfelt novel about the questions we can’t avoid.” —Tom Deignan, Commonweal
“Beautifully written . . . [Gordon] takes readers across two continents and two generations to tell a story of life, love, religion and the art of fearlessness." —Cary Knapp, Coastal Illustrated
“Intellectually and emotionally involving . . . [Translates] inexplicable and inexpressible experience into understanding.” —Ellen Akins, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Shifting points in time and points of view reveal a young woman shaped by the zealotry that can emanate from family, faith, or war . . . An emotionally and historically rich work with a strong character portrait holding together its disparate parts." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Mary Gordon has been writing compelling books about faith, love and family for four decades . . . There Your Heart Lies depicts pleasure in the loving bonds between generations and in acts of generosity and selflessness between friends . . . Historically [and] emotionally satisfying.” —Lauren Bufferd, BookPage
“In her eighth novel, Mary Gordon presents important insight which inspires us to realize that lessons from the past can help improve our lives . . . Highly recommended.” —Historical Novel Society
“Commendable . . . Marian is a delightful, absorbing character, illuminating both a period and a place.” —Publishers Weekly
“Who are you? Who am I? Those are the questions that echo throughout Gordon’s latest novel, [which] all Gordon fans will appreciate . . . Sharply observed.” —Library Journal