Strike Your Heart: What a Weird, Perfect Little Novel

Ameilie Nothomb is not an author I knew about what with being French and me being ignorant. Happy for me Santa brought me Strike Your Heart and happy for you because you can go read it and start 2020 off with a win.

Set somewhere in France sometime in the present the novel follows Diane, a precocious child born to a mother incapable of loving her. With third person limited narration, we follow Diane as she reconciles herself to this lack of love and comes to find meaning in other places and ways in her life and from other relationships. In her 20s, while at medical school, she meets a professor, Olivia, around her mother’s age. Olivia takes her on as protege and Diane, for awhile, finds the mother-figure she’s yearned for. As their relationship unfolds we witness as once again Diane encounters the ‘abyss’ inside herself and navigates her way through and around it. The cost for her of all this emotional deprivation is one that is not lost to Diane, nor the reader, as she struggles – in an eerily matter of fact and utterly logical form of narration – to make sense of the life she leads.

This plot doesn’t sound like a Get Up and Get the Book kind of thing, but the eerie narration and the irresistibility of Diane make the book the sort you devour in a sitting (like I read 3/4 in the bath – it helps that it’s relatively short). It’s also the sort of book that makes you quite sure that no matter what you do as a parent you’re bound to screw parts of it up – and probably never realize these parts – so you should keep doing what you’re doing and hope that it’s something akin to love.

I know I said you should read Marriage Material for your start of the year enjoyment, but now I think this one. Better still… two books! xo

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Filed under Fiction, Prize Winner

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