One Heart: A Novel

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9780061097577: One Heart: A Novel

From the award-winning author of the acclaimed short story collection Director of the World comes this charmingly poignant tale of two sisters whose experiences often separate them but whose love for eachother is deepened over a lifetime. Bonded by their affection and shared loneliness, Gladys and Ivy remain divided by a wall of silence that prevents Gladys from accepting the solace Ivy desperately wants to give. But their quiet lives are upended when a young woman with a mysterious past arrives on their doorstep and whisks Gladys away on a journey of discovery. Ultimately Gladys's experience transforms both sisters, teaching them the importance of emotional honesty and the value of family.

In the tradition of Anne Tyler and Louise Erdrich, One Heart is a moving tale of friendship, forgiveness, and redemption-a remarkable achievement from an exquisitely talented writer.

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About the Author:

Jane McCafferty is the author of the novel One Heart and two collections of stories, Thank You for the Music and Director of the World and Other Stories, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She is the recipient of an NEA award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. She lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Loneliness is the dominant emotion in this sad, sensitive first novel by the author of a previous story collection (Director of the World, 1992). Its not that McCaffertys characters are isolated, alienated individuals; they live in an intricate web of family relations revolving around the tension-riddled bond of Ivy and Gladys, who, when the story opens in 1978, are middle-aged sisters working as cooks in an upstate New York camp/school for troubled rich kids. The author deftly moves her narrative backward to their childhood and forward to the present in chapters related (in nicely distinct voices) by each of the sisters; Gladyss ex-husband, James; and her much younger friend, Raelene. It seems that Jamess arrival shattered the sisters youthful intimacy, which appeared to have withstood their fathers blatant favoring of Gladys, and that the accidental drowning of Ann, James and Gladyss preschool daughter, broke her mothers spirit in a way that would never be put right. Gladys, always disinclined to communicate, becomes even more resistant to Ivys attempt to get close, displaying something like contempt for her sisters efforts to put a good face on a world Gladys sees as cruel and meaningless. Yet Gladys cant entirely resist the neediness of Raelene, daughter of a clinically depressed mother and drug-addicted father who arrives at Camp Timber as a teenaged counselor after years of correspondence initiated when Raelene began wearing a bracelet with the name of Jamess POW son (later revealed to be dead). This is a story about loss and the pain of love that never seems to reach the right person at the right time, but a strain of dark humor and appreciation for natural beauty keeps it from unrelieved grimness. McCafferty makes us care for her troubled characters, each a fully rounded, complex individual. Her themes are evident, yet always grounded particulars. Strong work from a writer to watch. -- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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