The Unfastened Heart

Lane Von Herzen, Author
Lane Von Herzen, Author Dutton Books $19.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-525-93890-3
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Library Binding - 341 pages - 978-0-7838-1288-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 256 pages - 978-0-452-27290-3
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Steeped in the culture and literature of Latin America but set in Southern California, this winsome novel by the author of Copper Crown asks whether forsaking loneliness means giving up a kind of integrity of the self. During the 12 years since her husband abandoned her, Anna de la Senda has raised her daughter alone. A therapist in her early 40s, Anna surrounds herself with mostly older women who sigh for love and the men who have left them, but she calmly resists their transparent efforts to pair her with Clifford Ettinger, a widower who lives next door. By coincidence, Anna's daughter and Clifford's son have fallen gloriously in love with an ease that their parents, beset by self-doubt and middle-aged scruple, both envy and resent. Magic and the supernatural are never far from the surface here, in both the action and the language, and the beauty of the setting (Anna's lawn is festooned with dandelions, giant poppies and ``bright piles of kumquats, dropped from the ripening trees'') affects character and mood. Family is also accorded great power; as in House of the Spirits, a discrepancy of social status within one family will do great damage in a later generation. While von Herzen's language is occasionally overblown, she renders the minute small ways in which couples fall in love acutely and with great sympathy. Movie rights optioned by Columbia; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club selection; author tour. (Nov.)
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