Where My Heart Used to Beat
Author: Sebastian Faulk
Seductive, engaging, alluring – the adjectives can tumble about as we speak of Faulk’s newest, Where My Heart Used to Beat. It is both UNUSUAL and SEDUCTIVE to discover a novel that foundations itself upon old themes – WWI and WWII – and yet rises like a helium balloon with grace and integrity with a protagonist that not only touches our soul but holds it in his hand.
Dr. Robert Hendricks is a renowned psychiatrist. In his hometown, London, a letter arrives from Dr. Alexander Pereira, inviting Hendricks to Pereira’s home, a small island off the coast of France, to discuss Hendrick’s father. Robert’s father died in WWI when Robert was only two and his mother refused to speak of him. Robert knows nothing about his father except that he died fighting in WWI. Pereira writes that he has photos of Robert’s father as they were in the same battalion, and Pereira has read a book that Robert has written, The Chosen Few, about madness.
Robert Hendricks decides to take the risk and travel to Pereira’s island to see what the retired neurologist wants from him – for surely Pereira wants something other than to show his old photographs of his WWI battalion. As the two men meet, Pereira hints at wanting Robert to be his literary executor of his estate when he dies, which is in the near future. The visit is intoxicating, but Robert leaves with the understanding that Pereira must see him again in order to decide what to do about the executorship. As Robert muddles with the few photos of the father he never knew, he begins to remember things that he has never remembered. When he revisits Pereira again, Pereira assists him when he requests that Robert talk to him about his war experiences – and his repressed memories…and Robert discovers more and more about why he has never married when he lost a woman to another man, another soldier.
As Hendricks enters a journey into his forgotten past, he discovers memories lain fallow, the horrors of war once again, and the truth about his soldier father. He also readmits the contradicting memory of his Italian wartime love, Luisa Neri of the Red Cross, back into his presence and this pain will either fill him or redeem him. Pereira serves as a catapult for Robert to face up to his memories and to find Luisa once more.
Lush and brilliant, with emotional nuance that reverberates throughout this tender novel, Where My Heart Used to Be undulates with profound passion and the redemption found within the terror of the human race at its worst.
Bravo. Loved it.
Ratings are based on a 5-star scale
Review by Broad “A”
We received a product to facilitate our review. All opinions are our own
- Where My Heart Used to Beat: A Novel is available at and other booksellers.