A Fist Around the Heart

A Fist Around the Heart

by Heather Chisvin


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781772600650
Publisher: Second Story Press
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Heather Chisvin is the daughter of Russian immigrants who moved to Winnipeg to avoid the pogroms of the early 20th century. She is a journalist, a radio and television documentary producer, an advertising copywriter, and a teacher at the Ontario College of Art and Design. This is her first work of fiction. She lives in Port Hope, Ontario.

What People are Saying About This

author of Opium Eater: The New Confessions Carlyn Zwarenstein

An illuminating look at family ties and the reverberating effects of European violence against Jews before World War II.

Linda Hutsell-Manning

A compelling and powerful tale permeated with a longing for what can never be. Chisvin's beautifully realized characters, the independent Anna and her fragile sister Esther, reflect not only the vulnerability of the human condition but also its tenacity.

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A Fist Around the Heart 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Laeljeanne More than 1 year ago
Anna “Bencke” Grieve’s life changed after Tsar Alexander II’s assassination. In fear for their lives as Jews, her mother, a privileged servant, asked her employers Count and Countess Chernovski to take Bencke and her older sister Esther with them to Canada. The Chernovski’s later adopt them, believing their parents to be dead. Bencke does her best to care for Esther, who suffers episodes from traumatic memories that incapacitate her at times, as she herself tries to fit her eccentric personality into Countess Chernovski’s picture perfect household. Decades later, Anna receives a phone call from the Winnipeg police informing her that her sister has committed suicide by stepping in front of a train. She heads to Canada seeking the truth. The story alternates between this investigation and a backstory of a life fully lived, from Anna’s forced relocation to NYC, to circumstances causing her to be deported to Russia during WWI. In the investigation, Anna learns her sister’s secrets and must live with them now. Chisvin brings history to life in Anna’s story, as dear reader sees her torn from her family as a child after her country’s leader is killed and Jews are blamed, and as an activist for women’s rights alongside Margaret Sanger. She becomes a part of the melting pot that is NYC, falls into the fear of Americans who deport her in the war, and witnesses the disorder of Russia as essentially an outsider. Chisvin brings closure to Anna in her mixed emotions of finally being free of her sister as it breaks her heart. The last line of the book is brilliant in its imagery of this closure. I was fortunate to receive a digital copy of this beautiful story from the publisher through NetGalley.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Anna receives a call about her sister. She is dead! Run over by a train. Was she pushed? Was this suicide? Anna’s sister, Esther, is a damaged soul. Anna and Esther are given, by their mother, to a Count and Countess of Russia to be taken to safety at the beginning of the Russian revolution. Nothing is ever the same. Anna begins to rebel and Esther is prone to bouts of melancholy and mental detachments. This story is narrated by Anna. And I love her tenacity, her hard work and her politics. Anna is a smart, sell sufficient woman in a time period where women are supposed to be homemakers only. She also secretly provides birth control. Keep in mind, this is when it was illegal for women to have birth control. Did I mention Anna is a REBEL?!? Then there is Esther. Anna and Esther have a strange relationship. They are estranged through part of the story. But, the moment Esther needs her, Anna always comes through. There is a lot of history and mystery in this book. It does flip flop between Anna’s past and her present. This can get a little confusing in places. But, the story keeps you captivated. I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.
Madhupal2486 More than 1 year ago
I never had a sister but I always wished I had one because I always thought I wouldn't have to look outside for a best friend and an ally if I had a sister. The story revolves around two sisters Anna and Esther who born in Russia but sent to live in Winnipeg with the Count and Countess. Esther is elder to Anna, beautiful but emotionally disturbed. Anna is the younger one, tall, but stronger with independent ideas. Esther has her episodes now and then and Anna is always there to support her. Anna is shocked by Esther's sudden death. The bond between the two sisters is incredibly written. This is not the kind of bond I assumed of with my imaginary sister, but its very different. They are two different people but the sisterhood always brings them together. They are always there for each other whenever there is a significant incident in their lives. Anna's rebellious nature attracted me. She does what she likes. Anna and Esther both had troubled childhood when they were taken away from their parents, but they both did their part to the less fortunate by volunteering at various causes. The Count and the Countess were of great influence. Many other supporting characters like Vera, the police inspector, Nathaniel, Oscar are well written. The books took me through the whole Great War period, the If Day and how Jews were affected during that time. I could say this is a historical book. I felt that the book ended too soon. I'm sure the author has her reasons. All in all, I enjoyed the book. I look forward to reading more books from Heather Chisvin.