I was at our local independent bookstore recently, Inkwood Books NJ, and saw that there was a sequel to the wonderful book, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats which I thoroughly enjoyed last year.
So it was with great interest that I picked up A Well-Tempered Heart to read the book jacket. The plot seemed interesting and I knew the writing would be good, so I had already decided to buy it. Then the bookstore owner told me that the sequel was just as good as the original, which made me more excited.
A Well-Tempered Heart picks up with Julia 10 years after her last visit to Burma where she learned about her father’s past and met her half-brother U Ba in The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. Julia is back in New York, dealing with a failed relationship and knee-deep in her work as a lawyer. Sitting in a meeting she hears a voice and thus begins her journey to understand what is going on and a visit back to Burma to get to the bottom of what the voice wants from Julia.
Sendker weaves the stories of Julia, U Ba, Nu Nu and her two sons, Ko Gyi and Thar Thar, effortlessly and beautifully in this novel. Julia’s western biases, particularly about medication, are explored and she begins to appreciate the beauty of the rituals of the Burmese people especially the power of portents. I was pulled along and read the book quickly as I wanted to know what would happen with Julia and if the voice would return.
At the end, I was somewhat disappointed in how Sendker leaves the main characters (trying not to include any spoilers), but I guess it leaves it open for book three, which I will eagerly wait for.