Translated from the 2002 German original, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker makes for a soulful Valentine’s Day gift. Set in modern-day and mid-20th century Burma (now Myanmar), this novel offers romance readers an enchanting alternative to 50 shades of erotica and serial iterations of mainstream chick lit.
The story opens as narrator, Julia Win leaves her job as a New York attorney to journey to the Burmese village of Kulaw and meet with a mysterious man known only as U Ba. Her aim is to discover the rationale behind her father’s willful choice to remove himself from her life, and to learn the true nature of his ongoing relationship with a woman from his youth.
The beauty of this novel lies in Sendker’s ability to distill the essence of passionate love to its purest form. The hero, Tin Win and heroine, Mi Mi develop an immutable bond that flourishes because of, and in spite of, their unique physical challenges–ultimately transcending both time and distance.
There’s not too much more I can divulge without posting a full-spoiler alert. And I’m not going to dissect character motivation, plot, etc. There are reading groups for that type of discussion and analysis.
My recommendation is this: Allow yourself to be drawn into Sendker’s world. Give Tin Win and Mi Mi full access to your heart, let them break it, and then restore your belief in the everlasting power of love. When I finished the book, I told myself that somewhere in the universe, a couple who loves this way must surely exist. We just don’t know about them. Later, I learned that Sendker is at work on a sequel. I await this wholeheartedly.
- Reflecting on Love’s Heartbeat (elfinfun.wordpress.com)