Where My Heart Used to Beat

  • by Sebastian Faulks
  • Narrated by David Sibley
  • 11 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"You don't live the life I have without making some enemies."
Having accepted a strange but intriguing invitation to a French island, psychiatrist Robert Hendricks meets the man who has commissioned him to write a biography. But his subject seems more interested in finding out about Robert's past than he does in revealing his own.
For years, Robert has refused to discuss his past. After the war was over, he refused to go to reunions, believing in some way that denying the killing and the deaths of his friends and fellow soldiers, would mean he wouldn't be defined by the experience. Suddenly, he can't keep the memories from overtaking him. But can he trust his memories and can we believe what other people tell us about theirs?
Moving between the present and the past, between France and Italy, New York and London, this is a powerful story about love and war, memory and desire, the relationship between the body and the mind. Compelling and full of suspense, Where My Heart Used to Beat is a tender, brutal and thoughtful portrait of a man and a century, which asks whether, given the carnage we've witnessed and inflicted over the past 100 years, people can ever be the same?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

'I remember, I remember'... or do you?

Dr Robert Hendricks is a damaged man. He is 64 in 1980, the year Faulks' novel is set, his father had died when he was 2 during WW1 and Robert himself had served in the trenches in 1944 Anzio. The core of the story is Robert's visits to the Mediterranean island where the elderly Dr Pereira, a neuroscientist, lives. Pereira had known Robert's father during WW1 and he tells Robert the truth about his father's death. The never-delivered letters written to Robert's mother during the war which are in Pereira's possession and which Robert finally gets to read provide the poignant climax to the novel.
Faulks is very good at cameo scenes - on Robert's first day on the island, a mysterious girl slips off her flimsy dress and dives naked in search of sea urchins which she shares with him when she emerges from the water - but the whole is diffuse with constant changes of decade and place. The protagonist - as it was in Faulks' 2005 novel Human Traces - is not one of the many characters, not even Robert himself, but Faulks' intellect. His interest in the history and practice of neuro science in the treatment of mental illness is his passion, and Robert is his vehicle for communicating it to the listener. The mix of his intellectual pursuits - memory, how we remember, how the past affects the present; analyses of love and madness; the changing philosophy in the treatment of mania and so on - never really gels with the characters as real people, which makes Robert's relationships lack the emotional pull for te listener that they should have.
The intellectual rewards of Faulks' writing are substantial however, increased by the constant tolling in Robert's head of the classic Greek and Roman writers enabling him to make comparisons with the modern violent world. There are also the quotations from poets, T.S.Eliot's later poems musing on layers of reality and time being most favoured, and the detailed discussions between specialists within the story.
There are parts in Robert's past which could well be cut, particularly his many experiences of the treatment of various mentally ill patients, but despite these less successful elements, the whole is definitely worth listening to. It's extremely well read and there is plenty to feed the mind. Faulks get 10 out of 10 for the title - taken from Tennyson's In Memoriam - as it echoes the sense of loss throughout the novel. But he gets zero for his sexual encounter with Anna!
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- Rachel Redford "Writer and audiobook reviewer."

We shall not cease from exploration,

and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." T. S. Eliot

Psychiatrist Dr Robert Hendricks is a man that can not connect, dissecting every moment every encounter, retreating from the emotional, analyzing, trying to forget but constantly remembering what he lost, until a letter from a Dr Pereira invites him for a visit to Mediterranean island, on a pretext.

This is a book about discoveries and understanding one's damaged self, and trying to make sense of a world that went mad with violence, that is mad with violence, finding solace imperfect solace, remembering that long ago you had love and had been loved.

Beautiful written with moments that are palpable, too palpable, almost painful. the descriptions of the battles are vivid, the passages of young people trying to live through war with a facsimile of what is normal are also made real and bittersweet. A book that needs time to be digested fully, because it is more realist than most and even the romantic moments are not romanticised, but exposed to human frailties.

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- Wras "Kildonan by the sea"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-09-2015
  • Publisher: Random House Audiobooks