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Clara's Heart

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  15 reviews
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.
Paperback, 312 pages
Published November 1st 1998 by Bloomsbury UK (first published January 1st 1985)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  132 ratings  ·  15 reviews

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Patty Mccormick
Jul 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that I received from NetGalley to read on my Kindle. It was originally published in 1985. It has been re-released as an e-book by Open Road Integrated Media 0n July 9th, 2013. This was made into a movie starring Whoopi Goldberg back in 1988. Whoopi played Clara and Neil Patrick Harris played the part of David. I am not a big movie watcher. I’ve never seen this movie. It wasn’t a box office smash. Olshan has written other novels and articles for magazines and newspapers. Clara’s ...more
Jul 30, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Once I start a book, I always need to finish it. I don't usually mind that personality quirk of mine because most books that I start are at least ok. This book was dreadful. The characters were unlikeable and the storyline was creepy. So glad I'm finished!
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much tragedy in this book. A baby daughter dies and the mom does not cope well with the death. The parents have issues, a betrayal, and a divorce. An interesting personality is introduced as Clara, a Jamacian woman.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kept my attention

Two stars because it kept my attention but I really failed to get anything from this book other than being slightly uncomfortable with some of the sexual situations.
Laurie Larson-Doornbos

Joseph Olshan's Clara's Heart is probably best known as the 1988 movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, which, coincidentally, I've not seen. So it was with fresh eyes and ears that I read the novel, recently released as an ebook. The story centers on David and his parents as the family navigates the death of a newborn sister, depression, infidelity, and divorce. It is Clara--a fiercely loyal and loving Jamaican woman--who comes to care for David and steers him through those years of turmoil.

Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be well written and captivating, but rather disturbing. It is the story of David, who ages from 8 to 13 during the story, and Clara, the Jamaican housekeeper who is his best friend. David's parents have a troubled marriage and eventually they divorce leaving David spending more time with Clara than with his parents during the time the story takes place. Venturing into voodoo and sexuality, the story takes some bizarre twists and turns which I found rather disturbing. I have ...more
Laura Stevens
This was a good book. It's the story of a Jamacian housekeep's relationship with the only child of the family she works for. His parents divorce, and both his parents neglect him. He is her heart and she is his. But she has a dark secret and he hurts her in trying to find it out. As he finds out little pieces of the secret he becomes more and more curious. and goes to evermore extremes to know the whole secret. what will happen when he knows it all? read this book and find out.
Lydia Presley
I’m really torn on this book, because the writing was solid, the descriptions full of life, and the story was interesting, but there was something else that was difficult to put my finger on until I had ruminated on the book for a few days.

For the rest of this review, visit The Lost Entwife.
Lyn Cosby
Apr 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading Clara's Heart after seeing the movie first. As usual, new insights are available, especially into character. What I liked about the book was the way Clara developed into truly the only person David could count on for a long time following the family crisis. To be emotionally abandonded is a horrible thing. I value the lessons learned from this book.
Jul 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a read. There are many levels to this novel which explains the awards it has won. The troubled parents of a young boy, the hidden past of a hotel employee/ pseudo mother, and of course, David who is approaching adolescence fully unprepared. I laughed, I cried. I watched life unfold in its many am zings twists and turns. The characters were beautifully developed.
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This was even better than the movie! I loved the dynamic between David and Clara and the childlike imagination of David as he is approaching adolescence.
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 0

Movie (1988)

Whoopie Goldberg
Neil Patrick Harris (Teen)
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
3.5 somewhat heartwarming but still frustrating to read about poor young David being pulled in all different directions.
It was good until the end.... did not like the ending....
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Joseph Olshan is an award-winning American novelist. His first novel, Clara's Heart, won the Times/Jonathan Cape Young Writers' Competition and went on to be made into a feature film starring Whoopi Goldberg. He is the author of eight novels, the most recent of which, The Conversion, will be published in 2008.

In addition to his novels, he has written extensively for newspapers and magazines,