From the Publisher
"Voice of the Heart is the sort of book I cannot resist, indeed I pray to find." The Washington Times Magazine
"It really keeps you turning the pages, wondering just why it is that two beautiful women who were once great friends are now sworn enemies." The Daily Express (UK)
"A rare treat. We guarantee you will laugh and cry with the characters and that you won't be able to put it down." Literary Guild Magazine
"Meant to be read in a peignoir on a chaise lounge whist nibbling scented chocolates." Cosmopolitan
"The geography of Voice of the Heart takes a reader to all the right places." Los Angeles Times
"A rich tapestry of love and romance. The surprise ending is both poignant and fitting." San Diego Union
Mrs. Bradford relentlessly forges a course through the circumstances that first brought Francesca, an aspiring writer and the daughter of an earl, together with Katharine and then led to the severing of their friendship, the end of Katharine's career and finally Francesca's marriage to the wealthy statesman Harrison Avery....Although the opening scenes build interest in the dark secret that hovers over the heroines' shattered relationship, the story's denouement makes afternoon soap operas seem fast-moving. -- New York Times
Read an Excerpt
I came back because I wanted to, of my own free will. No one forced me to return. But now -that I am here, I want to take flight, to hide again in obscurity, to put this vast ocean between myself and this place. It bodes me no good.
As these thoughts, for hours nebulous and unformed, finally took shape, assumed troubling proportions, and jostled for prominence in her mind, the woman's fine hands, lying inertly in her lap, came together in a clench so forceful the knuckles protruded sharply through the transparent skin. But there was no other outward display of emotion as her internal distress evolved. She sat as rigid as stone on the seat. Her face, pale and somewhat drawn in the murky morning light, was impassive as a mask, and her gaze was fixed with unwavering intensity on the Pacific.
The sea was implacable and the color of chalcedony on this bleak and sunless day, one that was unnaturally chilly for Southern California, even though it was December, when the weather was so often inclement. The woman shivered. The dampness was beginning to seep through her trench coat into her bones. She felt icy, and yet, conversely, there was a light film of moisture on her forehead and neck and between her breasts. On an impulse she rose from the seat, her movements abrupt; and with her head bent against the wind and her hands pushed deep into her pockets, she walked the length of the Santa Monica pier, which was now so entirely deserted it looked desolate, even forbidding, in its emptiness.
When she arrived at the outermost tip of the pier, where the turbulent waves, whipped by the wind, lashed at the exposed underpinnings, she paused andleaned against the railing. Once again her eyes were riveted in rabid concentration on the ocean curling out toward the dim horizon. There, on that far indistinct rim, where sea and sky merged in a smudge of limitless gray, a great liner bobbed along like a child's toy, turned into an object of insignificance by the vastness of nature.
We are all like that ship-the woman mused inwardly-so fragile, so inconsequential in the overall scheme of things., Yet, do any of us truly believe that, blinded as we are by our selfimportance? A faint ironic smile flickered on her lips, and she thought: In our arrogance we all think we are unique, invincible, immune to mortality and above the law of nature. But we are not-and in the final analysis, nature is the only law, inexorable and unchanging.
She blinked as if to rid herself of these thoughts, lifted her head, and looked up. The winter sky, curdled and ominous, was littered with ragged ashy clouds which were slowly turning black and extinguishing the meager light trickling along their outer edges. A storm was imminent. She ought to return to the waiting limousine and make her way back to the Bel-Air Hotel before the rain started. But to her amazement she discovered she was unable to move. In point of fact, she did not want to move, for it seemed to her that only out here on this lonely pier was she able to think with a degree of clarity, to pull together her scattered and disturbing thoughts, to make sense out of the chaos in her mind.
The woman sighed with weariness and frustration. She had known, even when she had first made her decision, that to return would be foolhardy, maybe even dangerous. She was exposing herself in a manner she had never done before. But at the time-was it only a few weeks ago? she thought wonderingly -- it had seemed to be the only solution, in spite of the obvious hazards it entailed. And so she had made her plans, executed them efficiently, and embarked for America with confidence, eminently sure of herself.
I took a voyage toward the unknown, she mused. She felt herself tensing, and a flash of comprehension flew across her face. Was that it? Was it the unknown which was the source of her distress? But the unknown had always tempted and beckoned to her, had been the spur because of its inherent excitement and the challenge it invariably offered. But that was in the past, she told herself. I am a different person now.
An unexpected wave of panic rose in her like a swift tide, dragging her into its undertow, and she gripped the railing tighter and drew in her breath harshly as another truth struck at her: If she stayed, she would be risking so much. She would be endangering all that she had gained in the past few years. Far better, perhaps, to go-, and if she was to go, it must be immediately. Today. Before she changed her mind again. In reality it was so easy. All she had to do was make a plane reservation to anywhere in the world that took her fancy and then go there. Her eyes sought out the liner, so far away now that it was a mere speck. Where was it bound? Yokohama, Sydney, Hong Kong, Casablanca? Maybe its final destination was Cairo or Istanbul or Marseille. Where would she go? It did not matter, and no one would care; and if she left today, whilst it was still safe, no one would be any the wiser, no harm would have been done, least of all to her.
The idea of disappearing into oblivion, as if she had never set foot in the country, suddenly appealed to some deep-rooted instinct in her, to her innate sense of drama, and yet ... She hesitated again, wracked by her own ambivalence, floundering, and on the horns of a dilemma. Would it not be juvenile to run away? she asked herself. For most assuredly that was exactly what she would be doing. You will know you lost your nerve, and you will live to regret it, a small voice at the back of her mind insisted... Voice of the Heart. Copyright © by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.