I Know you By Heart
By Linda Spear
Your family is gathered around your mother who is about to take her last breath and as she does she speaks the name of a man who is not her husband. In her eyes you can see the frustration and in her face the sadness and anguish as she calls this man’s name. Who is this man and what was his relationship to the mother of both Sarah and Tessa?
Andrea Fielding was 58 years old when she succumbed to cancer. With her family around her she closed her eyes but not before making a startling revelation to them in her own way. She spoke the name of a man named David, professing to those present, her feelings for this unknown man. A tightly knit family whose background is Jewish and whose ancestors came here from Poland, we learn much about Andrea’s youth and the hardships and difficulties both she and her mother endured with a father who was an alcoholic and mentally unstable due to the horrors he could not come to grips with in Poland. Many people that have lived through the nightmare of being in the camps whether in Poland or Germany often relive it in their dreams, their thoughts and fear that they will be sought after and returned at any time. Andrea’s father was one such man who changed his name, refused to tell his family his true identity and lived his life in fear of being deported something that would never happen. With a wife who did her best and a daughter who cared for him, when he finally died the circumstances surrounding his death were needless to say suspicious.
Sarah and Tessa are Andrea’s daughters who are total opposites in many ways. Both are married to amazing men, but Sarah seems more centered and more in control and able to handle difficult situations without shying away from responsibilities. It is after the funeral that we learn more about this family and Andrea’s sister, Cynthia who appears distant and Carly her closest friend who relates a story about Sarah at the funeral that seems out of place and inappropriate.
Sharing with the reader the past, her sister’s past and how they met their individual spouses helps to set the stage to understand the present. As Sarah sits at her mother’s computer she opens one folder that will forever change her life the one with email’s from the man whose named she called: David. Reading their emails and learning of their relationship causes the reader to have many questions about why their relationship did not last and what was the event that David alludes to that Andrea need to handle due the their breakup.
Everyone has one first love and hopes that it will last a lifetime. Some people think that person is their soul mate. Many times relationships between two people are manipulated and destroyed by others. What really happened between Andrea and David? Was Sarah ready for the truth? Understanding and reading Andrea’s words brings to light many parallels in the lives of so many people. What caused David and Andrea to part ways is not uncommon. What caused her to decide to find him and finally express how she felt about what happened and after their breakup will enlighten the reader and help you understand that this strong woman who endured enough as a child taking care of her father and dealing with a cold mother, had to deal with something similar again. Why should social class matter when two people love each other? Hard question, not really. There are many people who feel that education and intelligence does not make the person, money, social status and economic standing is the benchmarks for measuring a person’s worth. I disagree and I am sure that Sarah does too.
As the author reveals the truth about David and Andrea’s relationship and the one secret that infuriates her even more, she decides to contact him telling him of her mother’s death, the fact that she has read their emails and wants answers to many unanswered questions. David is a cardiologist who never had to worry where the money for medical school and his education would come from. Nor did he have to worry about the funds needed to begin his practice. How far would you go to get what you needed if it meant giving up the one person who you really cared for and loved?
As Sarah learns more about her mother’s relationship with David and reads their emails she learns more about the true man and what he lacks as a person and someone who skirted adversity and did not face his own truths. But, Sarah and her family would have to face and endure much more within the week of her mother’s passing. Relationships would change, family members would be betrayed, others would be angered when they learned and had to face certain truths.
A close friend who explains who shares her mother’s past with her. A man who would not stand up to his mother and fight for the woman he truly loved. Misunderstandings, a father’s need for love, two secrets that must never be revealed, two sisters that finally become best friends and learn to deal a parent’s death and a father’s love in their own way.
There are many events that the author recounts that really strike a loud chord with me. I truly understand how Andrea felt and how devastating it must have been to have to cope and deal with what David did to her in the past and realize that her unrequited love for him would never die, even in death.
Read this heartbreaking, true to life, heartfelt, and yes made me cry and use up two boxes of tissues before coming to the last page, novel and learn what happens when one true love is replaced with another.
Sarah and her husband Ben and Lester, provide the glue that keeps everything together, for she truly can say to Ben: I Know you By Heart as Andrea did David.
I give this book Five Perfect Hearts
Author of the Bertha Series of Books and Memories are Precious