#FoylesFave: A Heart So White
James from our Charing Cross Road branch explains why, If you enjoy the prose style of W G Sebald, the trappings of noir, Macbeth, overheard conversations and deadly pillow talk, A Heart So White is the novel for you.
With a suicide by gunshot in its opening sentence and the revelation of smouldering secrets at its conclusion, this novel is the best kind of thriller. However, what sets it apart is that it is also and perhaps above all a relentless and formidably convincing depiction of how a disquieted mind thinks and worries, shapes and reshapes life with language, written in the kind of brilliantly fixated prose only Marias can offer.
Juan is a translator and interpreter, newly married to Luisa, who shares his profession and whose presence in his life has Juan contemplating the meaning and consequences of marriage. Luisa also prompts him to press his father, Ranz, for details about his dramatic family history, whose scandals and tragedies were, it soon becomes clear, only hinted at in the unforgettable opening scene.
Marias is an expert writer of ruminative prose who worries at points like an obsessive picking at a thread. The scene describing the flirtatious first meeting of Luisa and Ranz, in which neither says a word to the other and two world leaders enact a proxy romance on their behalf, is reason enough to pick it up. If you enjoy the prose style of WG Sebald, the trappings of noir, Macbeth, overheard conversations and deadly pillow talk, this is the novel for you.