Sunday, 29 March 2015

Boop's Bookshelf: The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman




The Heart Specialist checks off the 'A book a friend recommended' category in my 2015 reading challenge



The Author
Claire Holden Rothman is a Canadian Author, who writes novels, short stories and also works as a translator. The Heart Specialist was her first full novel, published in 2009. Her other works include: Salad Days (short stories, 1990); Black Tulips (short stories, 1999); My October (novel, 2014).

Synopsis
The book follows the life of one main character - Agnes White - from when she is a young girl through to being a fully grown adult about to turn 50. The book is set through the turn of the 20th century in Quebec, Canada. Agnes' early years are full of struggle to become a doctor, contesting society's accepted norms as she goes. Along the way she learns much about the human heart biologically, but she knows very little of the hearts desires while it is still live and pumping. This is a book about one woman's unorthodox journey into womanhood, fighting societies perceptions of 'proper' womanly pursuits before, during, and after the Great War.

My Thoughts
I had no idea what to expect from this book. It starts out with Agnes as a young girl exploring natural science and collecting and examining her own specimens from the woods around her home. It took me a little longer than usual to get into this book, I was also reading one or two other books at the same time, so I had long breaks in reading this so at first I wasn't very involved with the story. That very quickly changed as Agnes got older over the next couple of chapters, and I could empathise more with her when she reached my age.

I liked the jumps between age in the chapters, it kept my interest by cutting out all of the inconsequential in between years. In contrast, the moments from Agnes' life that are described become more important and pivotal to her personal history, and to the history of womens educational rights.

I really enjoyed reading this novel and the more I read it, the more pulled into the story I was. The misunderstandings between some of the characters were both frustrating and amusing. I didn't like the way the main focus of Agnes' life turned out to be a complete dud. *Spoiler alert* - The whole time she is looking for her father, and when she finally finds him there's no recognition or acknowledgment from him. Highly disappointing really...then again maybe I only feel that way because it was written to make me feel that way. To feel the same as Agnes does about it.

My Rating:
4 Stars
An enjoyable read, with interesting themes and subjects. The story pulled me in and kept my interest.