This Dickensenian story is of two brothers who come from nowhere and want everything. When Paul marries Louise, Johnnie is part of the contract, while their daughter Anna is entangled in it from birth. When Johnnie has to get out of the country, Louise goes with him. This has been her story too, right from the beginning.
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The fatal love of crooked hearts and an ambiguous bond of brotherhood; these are the central themes of Helen Dunmore's new novel, With Your Crooked Heart. Two brothers, Paul and Johnnie, are born over a decade apart in an East London tenement. Sworn to protect and nurture his brother, Paul lifts them out of an indifferent background to a life of wealth and status through dubious land development deals. As a result "Johnnie'd had what Paul never had: he'd had a father and a brother, all rolled into one, and a future that someone else had already paid for." But with his life mortgaged to his ever-loving brother, the impossibly beautiful Johnnie becomes as fatally compelled by the possibilities of failure as his sibling is by success.
Louise marries Paul, and soon discovers that his "passion of protectiveness" for his brother brings Johnnie into the heart of their marriage. "Only one time, and that was enough. Paul stood in for Johnnie in all sorts of ways, and Johnnie stood in for Paul." When their daughter Anna is born, Louise attempts to silence the clamorous burden of her secret with drink, beginning a slow progression of loss that drags into its wake her husband, her daughter and her self-esteem. "I could look back and show you each step of the way that's got us here": Louise maps her own journey to dereliction, but the compass of all their relationships points in uncharted directions when Louise is presented with one final chance to save Johnnie from himself.
Dunmore's success here, as in her other novels, is her ability to combine sublime prose with a swift and sure- footed narrative. With Your Crooked Heart fuses the alchemy of poetry and plot that have justly become the hallmark of her writing with an understated, emphatic study of alcoholism, adult self-delusion and the emotional relativity of all relationships in a world where "not being able to trust yourself is the biggest thrill of all." --Rachel Holmes
About the Author
Helen Dunmore has published five novels with Viking and Penguin: Zennor in Darkness, which won the McKitterick Prize; Burning Bright, which was serialised on Woman's Hour, A Spell of Winter which won the Orange Prize; Talking to the Dead; and Your Blue-Eyed Boy. Helen Dunmore is also a poet, children's novelist and short story writer; her collected short stories, Love of Fat Men, was also published by Viking and Penguin. She was born in Yorkshire and now lives in Bristol.
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Book Description 2000-04-06., 2000. Book Condition: New. Penguin Books Ltd. New Ed. Paperback. Book: VERY GOOD. 256pp. . Bookseller Inventory # NF-1055418