Strange Heart Beating: A Book Review

Strange Heart Beating 3.5/5

‘I wanted someone at the funeral to tell me about the life she lived before I knew her. In that way, I thought I could continue knowing her, could continue with the journey that we had started. I’d simply take a detour, I thought. I’d go backwards.’

I finished reading Strange Heart Beating over the last two days, while I felt it wasn’t perfect, it’s definitely worth a read. The story starts off with Leda’s death when she’s attacked by a swan and her boat capsizes in a lake. Seb, her husband, overwhelmed by grief and never truly reconciling with her death decides to uncover every last detail of his wife before he met her, with a compulsive madness. The narrative then moves from London to Latvia where Leda is from. The fervour with which Seb tries to understand his wife’s life and that dark undercurrent of obsessive love is the central theme of the story.

The narrative moves forward from Sebs perspective but is interspersed with entries from Leda’s journal and gradually you glean and piece together her troubled past. Initially, Leda’s character is a bit of a mystery, but it starts becoming clearer as the story progresses. You almost feel she has a split personality, the facade she maintains with Seb, and the other from her past contained within the frontiers of her mind.

Eli Goldstone is such a skilled writer and her writing brims with honesty, tenderness and moments of razor sharp humour. My only issue with the novel is that the latter half meanders significantly sometimes losing the central thread of the story.

Despite the flaws, Eli Goldstone is definitely a phenomenal author and for a debut, it’s really commendable.

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