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Heart in the Right Place

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  1,965 Ratings  ·  377 Reviews
Carolyn Jourdan, an attorney on Capitol Hill, thought she had it made. But when her mother has a heart attack, she returns home—to the Tennessee mountains, where her father is a country doctor and her mother works as his receptionist. Jourdan offers to fill in for her mother until she gets better. But days turn into weeks as she trades her suits for scrubs and finds hersel ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 15th 2007 by Algonquin Books (first published 2007)
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Apr 29, 2009 Werner rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Just about everybody!
Goodreads author Carolyn Jourdan is one of my longest-standing Goodreads friends; but back in 2007, when this book first came out and before I'd ever heard of Goodreads, I'd read a review of it in Library Journal or Booklist (maybe both) and been intrigued by it. I usually don't read memoirs, except for James Herriot's books, but this one caught my interest. So, when I had a chance to snag a copy on BookMooch awhile ago, I grabbed it up. I'm really glad I finally made time to read it!

The Goodrea
Carolyn Jourdan
Apr 25, 2008 Carolyn Jourdan rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I was bound to like it, because I wrote it. : )
Sandy Reisenauer
Oct 26, 2007 Sandy Reisenauer rated it it was amazing
another reviewer said the big question is whether Carolyn would return to her big paying law job, and i believe not. i met her this last summer ,when she stayed at my B&B, and visited our pulpwood queen bookclub. she currently works as a guide and writer at the largest national park (Iforgot the name) in the Appalachians. she loves it, and she is still writing/. she is a quirky ,funny gal, and i just loved her. she is the real deal. she is just a very nice ,sweet person, and dresses very dow ...more
Maudeen Wachsmith
Aug 27, 2007 Maudeen Wachsmith rated it it was amazing
When Senate Counsel Carolyn Jourdan returns to the mountains of eastern Tennessee from Washington, DC after the sudden illness of her mother, she has no idea how long she’ll be needed to fill in her role as receptionist for her father, the kindly country doctor. She figures at first it will just be two days. But readers can be glad that it wasn’t as in Heart in the Right Place, Jourdan takes the reader on a true journey of the heart to the people of eastern Tennessee and through all the trials a ...more
Mar 25, 2008 Michele rated it it was amazing
Favorite quotes:
"If there was one thing I'd learned growing up in a doctor's office, it was that people's mood was rarely dependent on their external circumstances. Its origin was almost always internal." p. 29

"You know how in Bible stories whenever an angel shows up, first thing he always says is, 'Fear not!' Well, it took me most of my life, but I finally figured out that he's not trying to comfort us when he says that. He's giving us an order. It's a command given more than 300 times in the B
May 04, 2008 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At roughly the halfway point, I was prepared to dimiss the book as a cynical attempt by a well-paid civil servant to cash in on her experience; having finished the story, I highly recommend it. Ms. Jourdan's certainly not the same person by the conclusion, and really seems to care about her community.
Narrator does a terrific job with the accents, so it's an esp great audio experience.
Carolyn Jourdan was living her dream. She had a high profile, six figure job in Washington, D.C. as Senate Counsel for nuclear issues. She also had a wonderful male colleague who shared her enthusiasm and interests. She had a nice apartment, expensive car, expensive clothes, and attended hearings, meetings, receptions, dinners, and other functions while mixing with influential people and important political figures.

This life was very different from her early life. She had been raised in a very
From the section of the book called " A Conversation with the Author ":

" How do you think we can observe another person's life properly?"
" By listening. But we don't listen to each other. This is a really serious problem in our culture nowadays. If we're polite we take turns talking in a self-absorbed way, but we rarely ever listen to what anyone else is saying.

When you do listen, things happen. You find yourself empathizing, developing compassion. It's hard work, though. Sudden
Aug 31, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, nonfiction
I did not expect to like this book as much as I did. It's a memoir of a woman who takes a leave of absence from her fast-paced, high-pressured government job in Washington, D.C. to help out her father when her mother has a heart attack. Her dad is a country doctor in Tennessee, and Carolyn fills in as his receptionist while her mom recovers. What follows is a year-long journey of Carolyn adjusting to the challenges of working in a doctor's office and struggling with the decision of whether to re ...more
Sep 14, 2008 Faith rated it liked it
This book is a lot like All Creatures Great and Small, except the patients are human. It's set in rural East Tennessee, where for 40 years, often for free, Jourdan's MD daddy and PharmD momma have taken care of "the crushings and maulings ... for the zinc mines, the slashes and gorings from the sausage factory, and the spatter burns from the rendering plant, not to mention the miscellaneous farming and hunting atrocities...." There are capital-C characters, many of whom seem eccentric to me but ...more
Bill Dockery
Feb 06, 2008 Bill Dockery rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All East Tennesseans, anyone who appreciates Southern hill-country culture & humor
Shelves: 07-reads
I hate to use the term "heartwarming," but Heart in the Right Place is just that. I don't want to label it a "dame tome" (a la "chick flick"), but it is that, too. Labels like those just cover up how good Carolyn Jourdan's memoir is. Carolyn, an educated, savvy lawyer on a Congressional staff in D.C., is forced to return to rurban East Tennessee to take over as receptionist in her father's one-man practice while the regular receptionist -- her mother -- recuperates from a heart attack. The exper ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Eleanor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I read this fun and profound memoir over the course of a weekend in the mountains back in 2008, and it remains one of the fondest reading memories I've ever had. Carolyn Jourdan was compelled to return home to her native Tennessee from her high-powered Washington, D.C. career when her mother fell ill. Her father, the sort of rural doctor "they" don't make anymore, needed her help running his practice. Thinking she'd only be there a few weeks, Jourdan soon began to discover the deep integrity the ...more
La Donna
May 14, 2013 La Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-13
I enjoyed this book. I read parts and listened to parts. I had to keep checking that this was actually a memoir, not fiction.
Carolyn Jourdan details this part of her life with care and just enough detail. She displays the wonderful and surprising world of the folks of her small, hometown community from the vantage of the reception desk at her dad's medical practice. The readee also gets a goid idea of what life as a DC lawyer was like for her before she went home. I laughed and cried with each
RJ McGill
Jul 22, 2007 RJ McGill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: book lovers everywhere that enjoy a great book!
Shelves: reviewed
Family Circle Magazine’s first ever, Book of the Month and the winner of Elle Magazine’s Readers Prize, Heart In The Right Place reaches out and touches the core of the reader. An emotional journey that inspires you to evaluate what is truly important in life and your place in it.

The story opens as Carolyn, the accomplished, independently successful attorney receives a phone call from her father…her mother is being treated for an apparent heart attack in the local emergency room. She immediately
Lin Stepp
Nov 17, 2012 Lin Stepp rated it it was amazing
A fellow Tennessean - and facebook friend of mine - wrote this wonderful book. I read it long before we connected ... and recently read it and enjoyed it all over again. A true story ... the book is about Carolyn taking leave from her high powered job for a US Senator in DC to come home on leave to fill in at her father's small, rural medical clinic when her mother takes ill. Carolyn's daddy treated everyone in the community, even animals sometimes - and the stories of the rural characters in th ...more
Jul 18, 2009 Judy rated it liked it
Carolyn Jourdan believed that she had it all. She was a counsel for the U.S. Senate, made a salary in the six figures, and rubbed elbows both professionally and socially with the power set in Washington, D.C. Then her mother had a heart attack and she rushed home to rural eastern Tennessee to help her father in his medical practice. Her father was the only doctor in their small town and Carolyn is amazed, and horrified, by the "cases" that walk through the door. One minute they are dealing with ...more
Jun 16, 2015 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I haven't read a memoir or any nonfiction other than a cookbook that I picked up for review since March. That's a long time. So when I was browsing Overdrive last night I picked out this book and I can safely say that I'm glad I did. This book was laugh-out-loud funny in some parts and heartbreaking in other parts.

The author did a wonderful job of balancing out her humor and spacing it out in between the deaths that would inevitably come with a memoir about a part of the medical field. One such
Well-written and mostly light reading. Carolyn Jourdan, a Washington DC lawyer returns home to the mountains of Tennessee to help in her Dad's family practice dr's office filling in for her Mom as she recuperates from an illness. Carolyn is both humorous and reflective as she plunges willy nilly into the medical chills and thrills of a rural community and it's often colorful and never dull inhabitants. I look forward to Carolyn's next effort as this one was a fast and oftentimes educational read ...more
Oct 09, 2009 Julia rated it really liked it
This book really exceeded my expectations. It was the last in a pile of books I got from my mom as she cleaned out her bookshelves before a cross-country move, and our interests don't always overlap so some of them have been not quite my cup of tea. From the cover and back-of-the-book copy, I thought this might be kind of sentimental and horrible, but this memoir of a Washington DC lawyer's return to her Appalachian hometown to work as the receptionist in her father's rural medical practice was ...more
Jan 25, 2013 Teri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! I loved the writing style. I thought there were so many good life lessons in this book that were shared without preachiness(is that a word?). The real life characters were indeed characters. My husband was amazed that this was a memoir. He kept asking, "Did that really happen? This is non-fiction?" I read some of it to him as we drove around this week-end and he was quite intrigued. I think the title rightly described the message of the book. There was much talk of th ...more
Todd Cannon
Jan 08, 2013 Todd Cannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book and started reading it because I thought it would have some fun stories about working in a small town medical practice. It does have those stories but it also talks about life and what is important about life. As with most good books there are parts that will make you think about your own life and the choices that you make that make your life what it is. Although the author decides to leave her high powered, "important" job in Washington D.C. I, at least, did not feel like she ...more
Sep 26, 2009 Kathryn rated it liked it
Shelves: 2009
This was a heartwarming book taking place in a small town in the Tennessee mountains. A daughter who is a successful lawyer in Washington DC comes home to become the receptionist in her dad's home town doctor's office after her mother has a heart attack. The patients that come into the office are worth the read. Definitely the personalities of many small towns. Carolyn's reflection on her successful life in Washington DC and that of helping her family is the theme of this book. It's more of the ...more
Feb 01, 2013 John rated it liked it
It pained me that the author was kind of forced to give up her lawyer life to help with her father's medical practice. For her to come during the family emergency when her mother was hospitalized, was a nice and reasonable thing for her to do. But after a week or two, when it became clear her mother would not be able to resume her duties in the office, it was time for her father to make other arrangements and let his daughter get back to her regular life. But the author's sacrifice in staying se ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Pamela rated it really liked it
I could not have picked a better book to read in a week filled with horrific news (Boston Marathon Bombing, Texas fertilizer plant explosion). Although light-hearted and downright funny in places, this book is also filled with wisdom about perseverance and values and hard decisions. I loved the characters who peopled the book with their wit, both intended an unintended, and their philosophies on life and living. Many of them reminded me of some of my own relatives, who are also very stoic and ju ...more
Jun 10, 2012 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an event. You step into the pages and walk with Carolyn as she tries to balance her feelings about assisting her wonderful father, who is dedicated to the welfare of his community, and her high life as a prestigious government lawyer. Being able to enter into her life and think her thoughts and see what she sees gives you a sense of being her - this is how we must become in the future, experience other's joy and pain as if it is our joy and pain. Then we form the new sense of commun ...more
Aug 05, 2008 Lane rated it really liked it
Humorous look at how life sometimes just ends up. How success can be measured in different standards and how sometimes home is just where you need to be. It is set in Strawberry Plains, TN. The author is a graduate of UT-Knoxville and a former U.S. Senate Counsel to the Committee on Environment and Public Works and the Committee on Governmental Affairs (now Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs). For all of you from Tennessee, she even mentions fainting goats!!
Jun 03, 2014 Raymond rated it liked it
This work by Carolyn Jourdan is much better than which I did not appreciate very much. I have recently had my first stay in Hospital (including cardiac ICU) although I had experienced NO pain and found that I have 100% flow in my arteries so that I have the expectation that I will never have to encounter that open heart surgical procedure that is graphically detailed in this book!
May 24, 2008 Brigitte rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It is a memior, but read like fiction. It was an excellent story about how circumstances change your live, but you adapt to your new life and actually finding yourself liking it. A sauvy senate lawyer finds herself back in the hills of Tennessee and after a few finds starts 'finding' herself.

A year and a half later I still think abt this book and want to reread it someday.
Martha Crawley
Sep 04, 2016 Martha Crawley rated it it was amazing
I liked this book very much. The characters are so engaging, and the author sees the humor in her daily life, even though it's not her "real" life. She's helping out after her mother has a heart attack, taking her mother's place as receptionist in her dad's busy medical practice. And oh what a practice it is! Colorful rural Tennessee people described with humor and warmth as she comes to realize a new definition of "real." Highly recommended.
Apr 25, 2013 Becky rated it it was amazing
This book is just good. The writing is witty, poetic, haunting, thought provoking and nuanced. There is a thread of Christian belief through the book but it is subtle and appropriate to the setting. It reads like a common sense guide to growth and becoming a better human. She describes life in rural Appalachia with respect and you come away with a fully developed idea of what it's like to live where things just run a little differently.
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#7 Wall Street Journal Best Seller Heart in the Right Place in 2012

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“Inside a barn is a whole universe, with its own time zone and climate and ecosystem, a shadowy world of swirling dust illuminated in tiger stripes by light shining through the cracks between the boards. Old leather tack, lengths of chain, rope, and baling twine dangled from nails and rafters and draped over stall railings. Generations of pocketknives lay lost in the layers of detritus on the floor.” 8 likes
“It's hurting in a place I call my skull, between my arm and my neck, near the fingers, cause of my leg, over on the other side. It hurts. Ye might wanna jab a needle in it.... I need to get my feet and ankles xrayed. I took the flu, got diarrhea, and it went to my feet. It didn't help that I dropped a piece of wood on them either.” 0 likes
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