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Summary

"You don't live the life I have without making some enemies."

Having accepted a strange but intriguing invitation to a French island, psychiatrist Robert Hendricks meets the man who has commissioned him to write a biography. But his subject seems more interested in finding out about Robert's past than he does in revealing his own.

For years, Robert has refused to discuss his past. After the war was over, he refused to go to reunions, believing in some way that denying the killing and the deaths of his friends and fellow soldiers, would mean he wouldn't be defined by the experience. Suddenly, he can't keep the memories from overtaking him. But can he trust his memories and can we believe what other people tell us about theirs?

Moving between the present and the past, between France and Italy, New York and London, this is a powerful story about love and war, memory and desire, the relationship between the body and the mind. Compelling and full of suspense, Where My Heart Used to Beat is a tender, brutal and thoughtful portrait of a man and a century, which asks whether, given the carnage we've witnessed and inflicted over the past 100 years, people can ever be the same?

©2015 Random House Audiobooks (P)2015 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Interesting and moving

I really enjoyed this book. I found the characters enthralling and the descriptions of the places were vivid. I loved the way it covered the main character's present and past life. I found his account of WW2 in Italy fascinating and the love story was bitter-sweet. The fact it delved into his work as a psychiatrist was also really interesting too.
Overall, a great read.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

We shall not cease from exploration,

and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T. S. Eliot

Psychiatrist Dr Robert Hendricks is a man that can not connect, dissecting every moment every encounter, retreating from the emotional, analyzing, trying to forget but constantly remembering what he lost, until a letter from a Dr Pereira invites him for a visit to Mediterranean island, on a pretext.

This is a book about discoveries and understanding one's damaged self, and trying to make sense of a world that went mad with violence, that is mad with violence, finding solace imperfect solace, remembering that long ago you had love and had been loved.

Beautiful written with moments that are palpable, too palpable, almost painful. the descriptions of the battles are vivid, the passages of young people trying to live through war with a facsimile of what is normal are also made real and bittersweet. A book that needs time to be digested fully, because it is more realist than most and even the romantic moments are not romanticised, but exposed to human frailties.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A memorable and moving novel

As with the author’s other fine novels, Birdsong and Charlotte Grey, this is a book about love and war, but even more about memories. Set in the 1980s the narrative switches back and forth recounting the experiences of the two main characters. One lived through the horrors of the first World War and the other survived the second. Both are psychiatrists with approaches to treating the mentally ill that were out of step with the accepted dogma prevailing in their time. Psychosis is a thread through the book and is extrapolated into 20th century history scared by devastating wars that shook the world. Inevitably there is a veil of melancholy over the novel as thoughts of lost comrades, friends and lovers are recalled, but more I was moved by the veracity of people's feelings and how they coped with life.

The book is rich in allusions to classical and more modern literature as well as medical and psychiatric theories, all seamlessly incorporated into the narrative without seeming contrived.

It was a pleasure to listen to fine writing performed by a narrator who took care to give authentic voices to a range of characters.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

'I remember, I remember'... or do you?

Dr Robert Hendricks is a damaged man. He is 64 in 1980, the year Faulks' novel is set, his father had died when he was 2 during WW1 and Robert himself had served in the trenches in 1944 Anzio. The core of the story is Robert's visits to the Mediterranean island where the elderly Dr Pereira, a neuroscientist, lives. Pereira had known Robert's father during WW1 and he tells Robert the truth about his father's death. The never-delivered letters written to Robert's mother during the war which are in Pereira's possession and which Robert finally gets to read provide the poignant climax to the novel.
Faulks is very good at cameo scenes - on Robert's first day on the island, a mysterious girl slips off her flimsy dress and dives naked in search of sea urchins which she shares with him when she emerges from the water - but the whole is diffuse with constant changes of decade and place. The protagonist - as it was in Faulks' 2005 novel Human Traces - is not one of the many characters, not even Robert himself, but Faulks' intellect. His interest in the history and practice of neuro science in the treatment of mental illness is his passion, and Robert is his vehicle for communicating it to the listener. The mix of his intellectual pursuits - memory, how we remember, how the past affects the present; analyses of love and madness; the changing philosophy in the treatment of mania and so on - never really gels with the characters as real people, which makes Robert's relationships lack the emotional pull for te listener that they should have.
The intellectual rewards of Faulks' writing are substantial however, increased by the constant tolling in Robert's head of the classic Greek and Roman writers enabling him to make comparisons with the modern violent world. There are also the quotations from poets, T.S.Eliot's later poems musing on layers of reality and time being most favoured, and the detailed discussions between specialists within the story.
There are parts in Robert's past which could well be cut, particularly his many experiences of the treatment of various mentally ill patients, but despite these less successful elements, the whole is definitely worth listening to. It's extremely well read and there is plenty to feed the mind. Faulks get 10 out of 10 for the title - taken from Tennyson's In Memoriam - as it echoes the sense of loss throughout the novel. But he gets zero for his sexual encounter with Anna!

15 of 19 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Essex
  • 02-09-16

Heartbreaking and Beautiful

This is an original and profoundly moving novel that moved me emotionally in ways I had not thought possible. I urge everyone to experience this book which is everything a great novel should be. The reading is flawless.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A storm of tears on your heart

It was ages I didn't finish a book in a so short time. Keeping you there, with your thoughts on it. Hammering your heart slowly slowly till the end, till the moment your eyes will rain out all this book had taken into you.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not my usual taste but an enjoyable listen

This is (deliberately) a rather navel gazing novel documenting a war veteran's journey to know his father, and how it has affected his relationships to others and himself.

It is quite thought provoking at times and banal at others. It's made me consider listening to similar titles, but I think they will always be low on my list if priorities.

The narrator really is good and his sort of discombobulated style really lends texture to the characters writing and internal monologue.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Hated it. Barely listened to any.

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

I just couldn't get into this book at all. It's slow and abstract and just wasn't for me.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Engaging Story

Any additional comments?

I very much enjoyed listening to this book as Sebastian Faulks never fails to deliver. But can you really believe that two intelligent, strong individuals, (spoiler following) who are madly, deeply in love could lose each other so easily, and not put in a supreme effort to seek and search each other out, when the time was appropriate? I found it hard to believe, and a great deal of the book centers around this affair de l'amour.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beautifully written novel.

Would you consider the audio edition of Where My Heart Used to Beat to be better than the print version?

Faulks is a brilliant writer and I'm sure that the print version would be just as enjoyable to read as the audio version was to listen to. I have read a few of Faulks' novels and enjoyed them nearly as much as the audio version.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Where My Heart Used to Beat?

I enjoyed the whole fascinating story. It was a pleasure to try and guess where the twists and turns of the plot were leading.

What about David Sibley’s performance did you like?

It was well read and easy to follow. I would guess that David Sibley enjoyed reading it.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, I found it difficult to stop listening, but life goes on back in the big bad world.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful