What happens when the past and the present collide? When they seem so interwoven that it’s oftentimes difficult to tell the difference between the two?
The Stopped Heart by Julie Myerson is the tale of two families living in the same cottage, but in two different time periods.
Mary and Graham are looking for a new start when they buy the cottage at the edge of town. They love its original features, the beautiful garden in the backyard, and the orchard that is beyond that. Although it hasn’t been lived in for quite a long time, they think it’s the perfect place to start anew.
One hundred and fifty years in the past, a man with bright red hair is almost crushed by a large oak tree when it falls during a storm. Miraculously unscathed, he is taken in by the family that owns the cottage. They all seem to like him except for Eliza, who feels uneasy around him, suspecting that he harbors an evil within him.
Back in the present when Mary begins hearing voices, footsteps, and seeing a strange man with red hair walking in the garden, she wonders whether she is going crazy.
Is Mary going mad? Is she just dealing with her grief in a strange way? Or could there be more to this than anyone realizes?
I have a love-hate relationship with this book. I’ve always loved a good thriller/horror novel, but this one—while good—is a bit confusing. Myerson wrote the books in two differing viewpoints, but instead of setting them apart, she wove them in together. That made it difficult to figure out whose time period I was reading. The perspective shifted so much that I was jarred out of the flow of the story with every shift.
With that being said, I was so intrigued by the story line itself that I kept reading because I wanted to know how the story ended. I will say that if I would’ve known that the perspective shifts were going to be that way, I probably wouldn’t have read it to begin with. However, it was a good story line in general.
Finally, I was not at all pleased with the ending. I didn’t feel that it fit with the rest of the book. Like I said, love-hate relationship.
All in all, if you can handle jarring perspective shifts at the drop of a hat, read this book because it is a good story line.
Bethany Kelly is currently getting her MFA at Goddard College and has a BA in English. She is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home mother and wife who spends her spare time (when she has some) reading and cooking. Check out her website at www.bckwritingcorner.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper Perennial. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.