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There Your Heart Lies

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  530 ratings  ·  113 reviews
From the award-winning novelist Mary Gordon, here is a book whose twentieth-century wisdom can help us understand the difficulties we face in the twenty-first: There Your Heart Lies is a deeply moving novel about an American woman's experiences during the Spanish Civil War, the lessons she learned, and how her story will shape her granddaughter's path.

Marian cut herself o
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Pantheon Books
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Average rating 3.46  · 
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 ·  530 ratings  ·  113 reviews

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Angela M
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This is another novel connecting the past and present time, taking place in different locations as in so many novels these days. In this case it's 1937 in RI, New York City but mostly in Spain from 1937 - 1946 and 2009 in RI. The older person in these kinds of novels has a story, a secretive past and it's assumed that the younger person who is usually floundering learns something from the past story . I find that I'm tiring of this format. Having said that, I was enlightened to learn some histor ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I pick up a Mary Gordon novel, I know I’m in the hands of a reliable writer who will make me think hard about universal themes — forgiveness, faith, and the spectrum between powerlessness and becoming empowered are in just about all her novels.

In There Lies Your Heart, she adds another element: history. Specifically, the book is set mainly during the War in Spain, where Franco launched a coup against the democratically elected Republic. His brand of fascism was heavily supported by the chur
Carol Storm
Aug 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
"There is, in fact, not much point in writing a novel unless you can show the possibility of moral transformation, or an increase in wisdom, operating in your chief character or characters." ANTHONY BURGESS

This book really was excruciatingly awful. Most of Mary Gordon's books are pretty bad, but this one takes the cake! There are some good descriptions of the Spanish Civil War, probably copied from other sources. And that's about it!

When she's selling her books, Mary Gordon loves to throw aroun
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The loving bond between Grandmother and Granddaughter help bring a painful and long repressed story to light. She loves her Grandmother but discovers that she really knew little about her rich history; love, wealth, war, bravery and great loss. For fans of Orphan Train, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and The Nightingale. Spanish Civil War is a topic seemingly reserved for political fiction with all the Communists and Anarchist-but family, love and bravery share the page in this ...more
"THERE YOUR LIFE LIES" is a generational story that seeks to bind the past with the present. As a novel, it is well-written and easily readable. But I found it difficult to make meaningful, emotional connections to Marian Taylor, a 92 year old woman living in 2009 Rhode Island with her granddaughter, Amelia, an especially sensitive 20-something, a recent UCLA graduate living amid the ebb and flow of everyday life.

Marian had kept her past as a secret from her granddaughter, her son (deceased), a
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
It was probably not the best choice to read "There Your Heart Lies" right after "Saints for All Occasions." The latter novel celebrates the quirks and joys of the Irish immigrant experience and its ties to the Catholic Church; "There Your Heart Lies" reminds us of everything narrow, cruel, and heartless about the Church and its influence on people who follow it. It is a dark and bitter book, only finding light when Marian, who we've followed through some especially harrowing Church-backed horror ...more
Jul 06, 2017 rated it liked it
I think Gordon is one of our best contemporary writers however There Your Heart Lies is very uneven. It begins with a young woman's story of estrangement from her family for religious and social reasons. She and her new husband set out on an idolized tour of Franco's Spanish revolution. They don't take much with them except ther Ivy League educations and youthful energy. Marian is forced to mature rapidly as she toils as an army nurse. This part of the story is exciting but when Gordon turns awa ...more
Carol Douglas
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Mary Gordon's luminous There Your Heart Lies taught me a great deal about the Spanish Civil War and about how to live as a person who hates injustice. It made me examine my life, which I do often in these times.

Marian, the protagonist, is the daughter of a fabulously wealthy, right-wing Catholic family. I came from a not wealthy but quite well-to-do right-wing mostly Catholic family, so I empathized with her. As a teenager in the '30s, she was embarrassed by her family's elegant lifestyle during
Aug 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
So disappointed with this book..... I was expecting a story that focused around the Spanish Civil War. But I felt the book really focused on the main character's sagas, personalities & emotional life. Much of the book was repetitious, telling once and again to the granddaughter. ...more
A young woman in a marriage of convenience travels from America to Spain to volunteer for the rebels during the Spanish Civil War. That part's interesting. Though it bogs down a couple years into it. Interspersed with her tale is the "real" story, Marian as an elderly woman sharing her life (but few stories) with her granddaughter. I just can't bring myself to care about her at this point, especially when we never learn what comes between the war and old age. The granddaughter then goes off on a ...more
May 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mary Gordon is an author whom I've followed for years, always looking forward to her next book. This one furthered my education about the Spanish Civil War, referred to as "the accident." I've only found one critical review of the book (Washington Post); it questioned some of the factual details in the story. I'll say that I liked the book but didn't love it as much as her other novels & leave it at that so as not to spoil the ending for others. ...more
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not happy with this book at all. Almost gave it one star. Did not like any of the story. I could go on but it's pointless. Don't waste your time.
Apr 06, 2020 added it
Shelves: d-n-f
DNF, no rating

I won't rate this book, because I did not finish it. I read around a quarter of it and stopped there. I never came back to it, because I lost interest in it. The book was so boring and dragging along I was not paying a lot of attention while reading it anyways. Therefore, I barely remember a thing that happened in this book.

Sadly, this book was not for me and I do not plan to ever finish this one ever.
Amanda Smith
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book had a lot of potential; I found that it could have been much shorter. The narrator drags on and you lose the great story line in endless internal dialogue.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed. First, because I expected this novel to delve into the internal political conflicts among the foreigners who fought for the Republic in the Spanish Civil War. Second, because I expected the complex development of characters and relationships found in other Mary Gordon novels. Neither expectation was met; perhaps because the author was trying too hard to accomplish both.

Marian, the central character, does go to Spain as a medical volunteer with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, but
Susan Springer
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
A young American woman, feeling out of place in her wealthy, religious Irish Catholic family, runs
away with her brother's lover to fight in the Spanish Civil War. She spends 15 yrs. there, loses two
husbands, rejects her son, and returns to the States with her third husband. Now in her nineties, living with her granddaughter Amelia, she feels the need to talk about her past life. The ending of
the book is disappointing and makes the reader question "Why did I read this"?
Julia Wilson
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This novel told in two voices was set in the Spanish Civil War, and in the near present. Marian Taylor holds center stage in both parts. I thought the story of her involvement in the War was more interesting. It was all a little over the top and by the end it felt like there was a lot of repetition in the modern section.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quintessential Mary Gordon in that the central characters were women and the Catholic Church served as an important context in the novel. The book alternated between the story of an elderly woman at the end of her life mainly in relation to her granddaughter who is living with her and the grandmother as a young woman who went to help the Republic (against Franco) in hospitals during the Spanish Civil War. A side story that drove the plot of the earlier story was that of her beloved physician bro ...more
Bernie Tomasso
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mary Gordon wove a great inter-generational story between a grandmother who left her wealthy Catholic family to work among the Spanish during their Civil War and her granddaughter who becomes her caregiver at the end of her life and knows nothing of the time spent in Spain. Not only is it a great story but I learned quite a bit about the brutality of the Spanish Civil War of which I knew little.
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This has a lot of sadness and heartache. I liked how it went back and forth between Meme in her 90's and when she was in her 20s. It's sad how women were treated in the 1930's. very well written. Slow paced as it traveled through Marian's life.
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
so interesting on a topic that fascinates me The Spanish Civil War
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-read
Mary Gordon's "There Your Heart Lies" is a compelling story of one woman's experience as an American volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, the secrets of her life during that time and immediately thereafter, and the sharing of her life's story with her beloved granddaughter. Moving smoothly from 1930s-40s in Spain to 2009 in Rhode Island, this work of historical fiction is powerfully narrated by Marion and at times less effectively by her granddaughter Amelia. The importance of confronting wrongdo ...more
Sep 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Almost gave it a 4, but I doubt I'll ever re-read this or necessarily recommend it to anyone. Perhaps 3.5.

A few excerpts:

"Sorrow is rock, bedrock that forms at the bottom of the soul and cannot be dislodged. Happiness, joy are winds, unstable, fleeting." p 35

"But asking me to live is like asking someone whose hand is in the fire not to pull it out." p 35

"And Amelia thinks, with pride, I am descended from a woman who says things like that." p 51

"...she has unwisely opened a window, but she can't
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
I didn't like this book very much. Gordon tells the story of Marian Taylor, as young woman from a staunch Roman Catholic family, who, following her gay brother's suicide, marries his lover and flees to Spain to support the communists in the Spanish Civil War. The book is set in Spain in Spain fron 1937 forward, and in Rhode Island in 2009. The Spanish part of the story focuses on Marian's experience of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, although the focus is more on its impact on her spiri ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Grandmother tells her story to her loving and sensitive granddaughter, and a shocking story it is, from the rigidity of a faith with a supposedly loving god to what neighbors will do to each other in a civil war, witnessed first hand in 1936 Spain. The story alternates between the events of the past and the present, and I have to say that the story of Spain during and right after the Spanish Civil War as Marian remains as a virtual captive of her in-laws captured my interest more than the prese ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Books by Mary Gordon have a distinct identity as they reveal in some way aspects of Catholicism, not always flatteringly. I must admit to ignorance about the Spanish Civil War -- only knowing about it as a magnet for idealistic volunteers who participated in order to defeat the fascistic Franco regime, but with the exception of For Whom the Bell Tolls, I had not read very much. Its import was in a way eclipsed by the "Big War" that was just underway, so much of the brutality and viciousness was ...more
Marian never really felt like she fit with the rest of her family, with the exception of her brother, Johnny, who she felt was truly a kindred spirit. And after his tragic death, she broke ties with them and headed to Europe to volunteer during the Spanish Civil War. Now in her nineties, Marian relays her experiences to her granddaughter, Amelia, telling a story that spans two continents and over seven decades. Having been tested by family, friends, strangers, and circumstances, Marian's story c ...more
Jeanne Lucier
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Such promise of a good read, until midway , when main character retells first half of book to other character. Lost interest, just didn't care.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it liked it
There Your Heart Lies, Mary Gordon, author; Angela Brazil, narrator
I realize that I am not as happy with this book as many readers, but I found the book to be very melodramatic and way too political in its approach toward religion. The overarching theme seemed to be to present almost every liberal cause it could. We have racism, homosexuals, environmentalists, corrupt priests, cruel conservatives who are all apparently communists, many of whom are Jewish, and fascists who roam Spain almost at wi
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-lit
Although I found the sections about Marion's experiences during the Spanish Civil War and life under Franco's regime interesting, the book was too long and the subplot involving the granddaughter (a somewhat facile millenial stereotype) was tiresome and dragged the book down, I think in an attempt to provide meaning and closure.
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Mary Catherine Gordon (M.A., Syracuse University, 1973; A.B., Barnard College, 1971) is the McIntosh Professor of English at Barnard College and is known for her novels, memoirs and literary criticism.

She and her husband, Arthur Cash, live in New York City and Hope Valley, Rhode Island. They have two adult children, Anna and David. Gordon is the McIntosh Professor of English at Barnard College. Ca

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