As I waited for the second novel in my Year of Books’ series to arrive I was worried about several things. On a practical level, I really didn’t want it to turn up while I was in hospital. Not that it would have made any difference I suppose, I just wanted to be here when the package dropped through the door. More importantly, I was concerned that after the tremendous success Lisa had with her first choice she couldn’t possibly be expected to match that a second time. I was really expecting not to be so excited about the second book as I had been about the first. I’m great at building myself up for disappointment – you might have noticed! Well, I had no need to worry on either count.
Two days after I came home this arrived and when I finally plucked up the courage to remove the carefully folded brown paper inside was a novel by an author so many of you have written about over the past twelve months that it was as if Lisa had a direct line into my blog feed. Javier Marías was one of the writers I had already determined I was going to read this year, not only because people I respect have been so enthusiastic about his work, but also because he would help me to read more widely among authors in translation something I have been determined to do for some time. Now I have no excuse not to follow through on my resolve.
I don’t know if A Heart So White is amongst the novels you have been reading. I’m hoping you will tell me when you read this post. This edition, from the Penguin Modern Classics series, is introduced by Jonathan Coe and has the blurb
In the middle of a family lunch Teresa, just married, goes to the bathroom, unbuttons her blouse and shoots herself in the heart. What made her kill herself immediately after her honeymoon? Years later, this mystery fascinates the young newlywed Juan, whose father was married to Teresa before he married Juan’s mother. As Juan edges closer to the truth, he begins to question his own relationships, and whether he really wants to know what happened. Haunting and unsettling, A Heart So White is a breathtaking portrayal of two generations, two marriages, the relentless power of the past and the terrible price of knowledge.
I have to say it doesn’t sound as though it is going to be the easiest of reads but then easy is not what I’m searching for.
Looking at the back cover I notice also that the novel, which was originally published in 1992, won the Impac Award. I’ve often thought that if you were to read your way through the hundred plus books that are chosen for the Impac long list each year you would have a really comprehensive understanding of the literary scene for any particular twelve months. I don’t suppose that something that I will every actually achieve but at least I’m going to be making a start with Lisa’s second excellent selection.