the unfastened heart

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Reviews:

"Tender and compassionate, The Unfastened Heart takes us deep into an enchanted -- and enchanting -- world." -- Rosanne Daryl Thomas --The New York Times Book Review
"Magical." -- Cosmopolitan
"As mystical and sensual as One Hundred Years of Solitude or Like Water for Chocolate." --Buzz
"There's something magical about this novel, and not just because its heroine is a mystic and a healer of broken hearts. No, the magic is more than the content; it's as though the lilt of Von Herzen's prose generates alpha waves. As soon as you start reading, you're soothed, suffused with both tenderness and an expectant alertness. The novel takes you into a verdant world of flowering trees, songbirds, fresh baked bread, statues of saints, and women. These are the Cordojo women, a group of friends united by the nurturing guidance of Anna de la Senda. Anna "lives for love," that is, she helps people cope with the anguish and confusion that love and its absence brings, in spite of the fact that she hasn't loved a man since her husband left her and their ethereally beautiful daughter, Mariela, a dozen years ago. Now 18, Mariela is consumed with desire for her black-haired and poetic neighbor Addison. As their love flourishes, Anna and Addison's widowed father gravitate toward each other, and soon trouble and passion surge into their lives like a summer flood. Every character and every scene in this romantic, funny, creative, suspenseful, and enchanted novel is compelling, and every sentence is wrought with grace, perception, and lyricism." Donna Seaman --Booklist 
"Ever since her husband left many years before, Anna de la Senda's consolations have been her daughter, Mariela; her love of nature; and the group of lovelorn women who come to her for counseling and friendship. When these women concoct a plot to induce Anna to fall in love with the lonely widower next door, unforeseen complications occur. Von Herzen fills the novel with a memorable cast of characters. There are stylistic and thematic similarities to the work of both Alice Hoffman and Anne Tyler, but von Herzen's poetic and insightful writing is her own. Highly recommended." --  Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Excerpts:
 
Anna's house itself was testament to the precious accidents of life.  Dandelions and giant poppies spotted her long-fringed lawn, and at the borders, where there ought to have been hedges, there were bright piles of kumquats, dropped from the ripening trees.  The shutters flew away from their mountings at odd angles, surprised and scattered and appealingly askew.  Inside, there was kitsch and treasured chaos.  The walls stood covered with maps and antique tapestries, all framed with gilt edges, the glass coverings disposed of.  The windows were flung open and frozen in a state of flagrant wonder, their jambs having been painted over too many times to count.  And through four of the portholes stretched the aging, leafy limbs of the trees in the yard, as though, in their mutual age and experience, the greenery and the house had simply linked hands, irrevocably, by mute and magical consent.  The outside of Anna's house remained stunningly silent, but the inside nearly spilled over with the sounds of wind chimes and the singing of birds, open-throated and joyful in their giant, copper cages.  
 
 
 
Anna de la Senda knew what magic was, and so did the Lovelorn Women who gathered in her home once a week.  My Cordojo Women, Anna called them, for their hungry, brilliant, swollen hearts and the clarity with which they beat.  All of them knew about magic without quite having seen it themselves.  It was what crackled in the summer air like static, turning the streetlights on and off at random.  It was what made the fish in the koi ponds move like mermaids and phantoms, kissing one another and then dissolving into nothing.  It was what made the lilies open their throats at night and sing their silent white songs.  It was the anticipation of everything destined and impossible, and it had invaded the neighborhood like a weather from another world.
 
 
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