Clara's Heart

Clara's Heart

by Joseph Olshan
     
 

When David's mother brought Clara Mayfield from Jamaica to live in their affluent household, David told the exotic intruder to go back to where she came from. But the indomitable Clara would take no nonsense, and soon began to capture David's affections.

Overview

When David's mother brought Clara Mayfield from Jamaica to live in their affluent household, David told the exotic intruder to go back to where she came from. But the indomitable Clara would take no nonsense, and soon began to capture David's affections.

Editorial Reviews

Hanif Kureishi
Olshan's achievement is to have created a separate and entirely believable world, carefully, comically and humanely drawn. It is held together by much tension and contains many excellent recognizable scenes and embarrassments...A fine debut.
Times Literary Supplement
Martin Seymour Smith
Intelligently conceived and psychologically convincing. Someone to read and watch.
Financial Times
Newsday
Clara is a triumphant creation, with all her provocative richness and scariness. This gently perceptive novel about coming of age in suburbia maintains a high level of narration in unfolding a relationship that is as delicious as it is fleeting. After the book is closed its fragrant intensity lingers.
NYT Book Review
An impressive novel...Clara's Heart is notable precisely because of the risks Joseph Olshan has taken that do succeed, not the least of which is its sensitive and often comical treatment of the unique love between a precocious American boy and a wise, if tormented, Jamaican woman.
Selina Hastings
It's terrific. Joseph Olshan is clearly enormously talented. He has an almost extrasensory understanding of the characters he writes about, and he writes magnificently well. He is funny, too.
Daily Telegraph
Washington Post
Joseph Olshan skillfully juxtaposes two very different cultures, the financially successful but emotionally deficient Harts, the products or victims of a modern age, and the relatively poor in money, but rich in warmth and spirit, Jamaicans.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With its intricate characterization, a plot that weaves together two very different cultures, and a narrative enriched by fresh, often poignant dialogue, this is an extraordinary first novel. At its heart is the unusually close relationship betwen Clara, a Jamaican, and David Hart, who is eight years old when Clara enters his life. David's mother meets Clara in a Jamaican hotel, where the kind, wise woman is a chambermaid. The Harts are on a trip designed to lift Leona from the depression that has engulfed her since her infant daughter was found dead in her crib. Clara reaches out to Leona, soothing her in a way no one else has been able to, and the woman returns to Rye, N.Y., as the Hart's live-in housekeeper. Leona turns to spiritualism and philosophy to fight her inner emptiness, becoming estranged from her husband, who eventually moves out. It is then Clara who provides the only constancy in David's life. Yet the intensity of their friendship, and the dark secret of her past that Clara is determined to hide from David, creates an emotional chaos that is skillfully portrayed and finally resolved in this wonderful novel, which won the London Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers' Competition. November 21
Library Journal - Library Journal
When eight-year-old David Hart's baby sister is lost to crib death, his mother, Leona, withdraws into depression. David's father takes her on a recuperative vacation to Jamaica. David is left at home, feeling confused and abandoned. When they return, his parents bring Clara, a patois-speaking Jamaican with a mysterious past, to tend to David and keep their house in an upscale New York suburb. In the years that follow, Clara fills the emotional void in David, as his preoccupied parents separate and divorce. He enters adolescence with a deep attachment to Clara and a fascination for all things Jamaican, including the secrets of her past. Hardly your usual coming-of-age story, this smoothly written first novel is original and compelling. Recommended. Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780747542889
Publisher:
Bloomsbury UK
Publication date:
11/01/1998
Pages:
312
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x (d)

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