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With Your Crooked Heart (2001)

With Your Crooked Heart (2001)

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3.4 of 5 Votes: 4
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0802137709 (ISBN13: 9780802137708)
grove press

About book With Your Crooked Heart (2001)

With Your Crooked Heart is definitely a dark and moody read, so if you need something uplifting, maybe you should set this aside for a day you're feeling cynical. It isn't Dunmore's best, but it was interesting, to say the least.The novel centers around the life of Louise, a once-beautiful and coveted woman who finds herself trapped between two brothers of opposite personas. Married to the responsible rich brother, Paul, she is irresistibly drawn to his younger and reckless brother Johnnie. Anna is the result of a one-night stand between Louise and Johnnie but is raised by Paul, who can provide a better life and stability for Anna while Louise drowns herself in alcohol.With Your Crooked Heart starts out really strong with stunning prose; Helen Dunmore gives us shockingly intimate details, so much that we can all relate to Louise. My favorite quote is given about Louise on page 13, as she gazes at herself in the mirror being slightly overweight:"Her image looks at her angrily, as if it blames her for what it has become. We used to like each other, you and me. Look at what you've done to us".As days go by, Louise realizes that she needs more from her pathetic life, so when Johnnie finds himself in trouble with the mob, she decides to go with him into "hiding". Meanwhile, we read about Anna's growing up and what she learns about life, death and the appreciation of a stable household with Paul and her stepmother.The novel becomes increasingly depressing and I'm sad to say the novel doesn't improve as you read on. I really love Helen Dunmore's writing, but this novel simply isn't a very good story. The ending is abrupt and is cloudy-- for some reason Dunmore's description of Johnnie's violent demise just isn't clearly detailed, and I KNOW I've got a hell of an imagination on my shoulders, so I don't get why I still don't understand what happens to him. If anyone reads this book and can figure it out, please let me know.Overall, when I finished With Your Crooked Heart, I was left feeling supremely dissatisfied. I just sort of sat there in disbelief, staring at the book in my hands, thinking "That's all?!"Regardless, I still remain a devoted fan to Helen Dunmore. My favorite book written by her is Talking to the Dead (1996). Her more recent titles include Counting the Stars (2008) and The Betrayal (2010).For more book reviews, visit

On the cover, the Mail on Sunday is quoted: 'No one explores more chillingly the human impulse to stray, push the boundaries, and play around with fate and survival.'But that is not what I took away from With Your Crooked Heart, which to me is about how we try - at their peril and sometime our own - to protect the people we love. The theme of mothering runs through this difficult story, but it is desperate and biologically driven; despairing motherhood. I was mesmerized by the characters from the first paragraph, and the language is clear and precise.

Do You like book With Your Crooked Heart (2001)?

Dunmore is a poet, and her prose is intensely beautiful and sharp. Each word is expertly tailored to the scene and, once you read it, unexchangeable for any other substitute. The words click precisely into place to create vivid detail that carves scenes and feelings into the imagination.While the pace of the book is slow, and the story oddly switches perspective and person, it is well worth a measured read simply to appreciate again and again Dunmore's profound talent.The book spirals slowly downward into a depressing end, which is oddly quick and murky in comparison to the rest of the story. The method of (view spoiler)[Johnnie's death (hide spoiler)]

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