Monday, May 3, 2010

Review: The Threadbare Heart

Summary: A photo of her sons. A doormat from Target. Twenty-three tubs of fabric. Somehow it comforts Lily to list the things she lost when a wildfire engulfed the Santa Barbara avocado ranch she shared with her husband, Tom. He, too, didn't survive the devastating fire. His last act was to save her grandmother's lace from the flames-an heirloom she has never been able to take scissors to, that she was saving for someday.

As she negotiates her way through grief, mourning both the tangible and intangible, Lily wonders about her long marriage. Was it worth all the work, the self-denial? Did she stay with Tom just to avoid loneliness? Should she have been more like her mother, Eleanor-thrice- married and, even now in her elderly years, cavalier about men and, it seems, even about her daughter's emotions?

Now, it's up to Lily to understand what she could still gain even when it seems that everything is lost. -- Berkley

I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of Jennie Nash. I really enjoyed THE ONLY TRUE GENIUS IN THE FAMILY (my review) and I think her writing is just so good. So when I heard that she had a new novel coming out called THE THREADBARE HEART which explores love, marriage, and mother-daughter relationships, I knew I wanted to read it!

THE THREADBARE HEART deeply touched my heart. There were so many universal themes in this book which I found myself relating to, but I absolutely loved how Ms. Nash delved into the topics of love and marriage. She showed how there are many different types of marriages (love, convenience, obligation, etc.) and how they worked or didn't work for the couples involved. She also demonstrated that different people have different expectations about marriage and different needs as well. I can't remember ever reading a book that explored marriage and love like this one.

All too often in today's books, I read about the "love" which is really passion in relationships. But realistically, five, ten, twenty years down the road, most relationships that survive aren't based on that passion. I'm not saying that the passion still isn't there in some form; but in my opinion, as you grow older together, you realize that love and marriage are about so much more than that. THE THREADBARE HEART really made me take a look at myself and my marriage. I'm thrilled that the book really made me think, and I'm happy (and content) with the decisions I've made in my life.

I also appreciated that the book brought up the question of how well do you ever know someone? Even though Lily and Tom had been married for around 25 years, she still had doubts and insecurities about their marriage. I think many readers will relate to this part of the story, but I also liked how the author made me question how well I know others in my life. In THE THREADBARE HEART, Lily and her mother Eleanor were extremely different and seemed to have little in common. Much of Lily's ideas about her mother had existed for many years -- some even since Lily's childhood. Throughout the years, both Lily and her mother made many assumptions about each other; and they didn't really take the time to talk (and listen) and get to know each other.

Another part of this novel that really affected me was the theme of loss. Eleanor had lost a few of her husbands (although she didn't seem to really mind), Lily lost the love of her life; and because Eleanor was elderly, she saw many of her friends pass away. I think all of the loss in this novel was kind of a wake-up call for me. I see the value of visiting family, sharing my thoughts and emotions, as well as never taking anything for granted. I'm telling you...this book will touch your heart!

THE THREADBARE HEART really is an ideal book club selection. There are some great discussion questions included in the book (but I couldn't find them on-line yet.) I also thought the two behind-the-scenes moments written by Ms. Nash that were in the back of the book enhanced the meaning of the novel. Some of the themes that you might want to explore further with your group include mother-daughter relationships, happiness, contentment, expectations, and of course marriage and love. There is also some symbolism in this novel which I thought was very well done, and I'd love to hear how others interpreted it.

THE THREADBARE HEART is just a beautiful book about relationships and especially mother-daughter relationships. If you are interested in winning a copy of this book or even a book club in a box, then make sure you check out the contest for "Who is Your Favorite Fictional Mother-Daughter Pair?"

Thanks to the author for sending me a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

Fantastic review. I loved this book too and agree that it explores love on so many levels.

Unknown said...

Ha, well, we must be even because your review brought tears to my eyes! You made The Threadbare Heart sound like a book I would want to read, which I know is silly because I WROTE it. But you made it sound very, well, IMPORTANT. Thank you!!

mpartyka said...

I enjoyed this book, I didn't love it but it might have been for personal reasons (which I wrote about in my review). I have been in a fire and have my own experience, it's hard to read about fire...Jennie commented on this that she understood. That said, I loved Gordon's character, I didn't like Rick all that much but I understand it's fiction :).

Jen (Devourer of Books) said...

Great review! I agree this would be a very good book for book clubs. I just wish the synopsis from the back of the book had been different, it was such a spoiler!