A WELL-TEMPERED HEART
This is not a book of action or plot, although there are both in it. Very literary, it is a story of emotion, of magic, of belief, of many kinds of love and of hope. Like the previous book, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, the sequel is beautifully written, although sometimes almost floatingly new age. Everyone but the main character, Julia, is a Buddhist, and in this series, the mystical elements are as important as the mundane. In such esoteric books, it is hard to know if the translation from the original German has influenced the author’s voice and tone. Many readers will find A Well-Tempered Heart incredibly beautiful and moving, but many will feel it is too otherworldly.
Julia, a successful attorney, is in a meeting when she hears a woman’s voice. Upset and wishing the voice would go away, Julia consults a psychiatrist, who prescribes medicine for her condition without understanding anything about her. Julia is sure the voice is real. At a retreat, an old Buddhist monk tells Julia he thinks she has a rare case of sharing her body with another soul who has not gone on to a new incarnation. In order to be rid of the voice, she must find out the woman’s story. Julia returns to her ancestral home of Burma to reunite with her half-brother. Together, they will uncover the woman’s identity and find out what Julia needs to learn. (OTHER PRESS, Jan., 400 pp., $15.95)