Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Tell-Tale Heart - Jill Dawson

'I'd like to go back to my old self, to my old life, but I have a curious, powerful certainty: my old self won't have me.'

A clever and interesting tale about a heart transplant, giving us an insight into the lives of both the donor Drew and the recipient Patrick, plus a third, historical voice, Willie, further back down the lineage of Drew’s family. It's fascinating to consider whether the recipient does indeed take on some sense of the donor in these instances, the idea of the heart carrying some sort of memory with it I suppose.

When I first started reading, it took me a little while to warm to the story and I did put the book aside for a few days and come back to it. When I persevered a little futher, I found I really became drawn into the story much more, and I enjoyed it more and more from about a third of a way through onwards.

I loved the setting, the Fens; I do enjoy a novel where there is a strong sense of place, and I also liked the symbolism of the owl. I liked the insight into both lives that the author gave us. Patrick, as was the author’s intention, is not a particularly likeable character, he's a womaniser, he barely seems to know his son, but it is fascinating to observe the changes in him over the course of the story. I was drawn more to Drew’s character, his youthful energy and lust and his painful experiences. 

I really enjoyed seeing Jill Dawson discuss this novel at the Cambridge Literature Festival and I’ll definitely be reading more of her back catalogue as well as looking out for future novels.

Thanks to Amazon Vine for the review copy.


  1. This seems like a fascinating idea for a novel.

    If I had someone's heart, I do not think that I would have a sense of taking on part of the person. However if I knew who they were, I would feel that i would need to honer something about them in some way.

  2. I like the symbolism, the owl. That should be interesting to figure out. I've heard of The Fens, but don't know what I heard. Need to look this place up. Really like the book review.

  3. Hmm, interesting though I can't help but think it puts me in my mind of another book we read at our reading group - if only I could remember the title.

  4. Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde though when I've checked it wasn't a book read by my Readers Group.


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