Joshua Gibbs survived the Civil War, building on his wartime experiences to become a small town doctor. And if he wakes from nightmares more often than he would like, only his dog Major is there to know it.
Then two newcomers arrive in Cowbird Creek: Clara Brook, a plain-speaking and yet enigmatic farmer’s daughter, and Freida Blum, an elderly Jewish widow from New York. Freida knows just what Joshua needs: a bride. But it shouldn’t be Clara Brook!
Joshua tries everything he can think of to discourage Freida’s efforts, including a wager: if he can find Freida a husband, she’ll stop trying to find him a wife. Will either matchmaker succeed? Or is it Clara, a woman with her own scars, who can heal the doctor’s troubled heart?
My Favourite Quotes:
“But from time to time she turned to him as if studying him. He let her scrutinize him. Maybe she would discover something about him that he needed to know.”
“‘Who would want an old lady like me?’ Joshua put down his fork and leaned forward o his elbows. ‘Anyone who wants a woman with experience, a woman who knows something about life, who’s also a good cook, and smart, and funny, and has a heart as big as the prairie.'”
“Robert’s grin grew even wider. ‘Matchmaking in self-defense! I like it.'”
“But instead, he found himself looking for a letter he’d gotten from his mother the week before, and reading it over, and kissing her signature.”
“A long pause. ‘The family was told he had died in battle. And I the only one to know, to understand, what that means. The others imagine something swift – a bullet extinguishing him in an instant. They never saw, or heard, or – or smelled the things that let me imagine what he likely endured. And that is just part of what makes me feel like… some different kind of creature, pretending to be like them, to be one of them. To be the daughter and sister I used to be. Someone I scarcely remember being.'”
I am back, literary lovelies, with my first book review in quite some time. AND I have to tell you I am so glad this was the book to start me off reviewing once again.
Having battled with being triggered by my previous read for my book club I found myself in a reading drought. I could not focus on anything and felt genuinely disheartened until I received an email asking me for a book review.
A quote from one of my all-time favourite novels, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, helps illustrate my next point, “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”
I believe that secret homing instinct was at work bringing What Heals the Heart by Karen A. Wyle to me as I needed to be rescued in more than just the literary sense. I could never say my personal mental health struggles would completely align with the main character of What Heals the Heart but through the actions and friendships of this novel, I found it healing my own heart in a very real way. (And yes I am very aware of my intended pun – or whatever we are wanting to call it!)
It is essential for mental health to become a more common discourse in our lives and novels can be a fundamental tool in doing so. What Heals the Heart brilliantly connects the reader to the characters reliving collective trauma and illustrates how profound support and understanding can be in finding forms of healing.
I am often drawn to books that discuss aspects of mental health as they often help to heal me as oppose to trigger me. I was touched by Wyle’s way of illustrating with due care and attention the post-traumatic experiences of more than one character within this novel. She was able to bring a perfect amount of lightness (small town matchmaking and quirky friendships) to balance a tough subject.
The friendships in this novel were phenomenal and I loved every single one of them. Wyle is able to create characters who I wanted to befriend. Who I felt came to life for me as a reader. Characters I fought for, cheered for, loved, and in all honesty, cried for and with.
I felt like I held my breath the whole time I was writing that!
But before I leave you, I must do some review-wise housekeeping. Ready?
How long is too long of a quote to have in my ‘My Favourite Quotes’ section, dear readers? I only ask because the last quote I wrote in the above section was quite a bit longer. I have gone back and forth over whether or not I should include it in its entirety or just implore you to go and read this novel especially the rest of this moment between Clara Brooks and Dr. Joshua Gibbs in Chapter 23! It stands out as one of my favourite moments (of many) in the book.
I heart What Heals the Heart this much:
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ !!
You can purchase What Heals the Heart from Amazon here!
*** Copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review ***