Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae” as Want to Read:
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  2,653 ratings  ·  494 reviews
Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.
She's only a few months past the heart transplant that - just in time - saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point.
She knows she needs to find her father.
She's missed so much that her friends have left her behind.
She's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls o
Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published April 19th 2018 by Zaffre
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This question contains spoilers... (view spoiler)
Leah I only have an ARC so the line could have changed in the finished copy, but it's: "I used to make a massive effort, you know, always be cheerful, alwa…moreI only have an ARC so the line could have changed in the finished copy, but it's: "I used to make a massive effort, you know, always be cheerful, always go out for drinks if anyone was going. Not be offended if people were bitchy. And then one day I was in make-up, and Tom Foster was in the chair next to me, and he caught my eye in the mirror and said, 'Remember son, just because you've got what you want doesn't mean you have to be happy all the fucking time.'"(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,653 ratings  ·  494 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Stephanie Butland has written a well researched and insightful novel about Ailsa's chronic life threatening heart condition, set in Edinburgh. 28 year old Ailsa has experienced lifelong heart problems which have curtailed and limited what it is possible for her to do, leaving her dependent on the loving care of her tremendous mother, Hayley. She is pessimistic about receiving the heart transplant she needs, and she has good reason to be, her close friend and lover, Lennox failed to receive one a ...more
Louise Wilson
Ailsa Rae has had a heart transplant. Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point. She needs to find her father. Even her friends have left her behind. And then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. How's she supposed to face all this without him.

Ailsa has had to deal with ill health and get used to the restrictions that this places on her lifestyle. She blogs about her life and finds this a coping mechanism. Her relationship with her m
Feb 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, fiction
Initially I was a bit disappointed with this, because Netgalley compared it to Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine which I loved, and this is not even in the same genre. Publishers should really start realizing that comparing books to famous books, when there are no similarities does no-one any favors.

That said, I ended up enjoying this sweet, easy-reading story about a young women, born with heart complications, now trying to adapt to real life after finally receiving a heart transplant. I lov
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Review to come

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
Dale Harcombe
Sep 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ailsa Rae has been living on borrowed time for years waiting for a heart transplant. Over the years of waiting it has just been her and her mother since her father cleared out very early in her life. Over the time of waiting for the heart transplant Ailsa has been blogging about her experiences and asking questions of her readers. Personally I found this a very bizarre thing to do. But as long as you can accept this you will see the place it has in this story and settle in to reading the blog as ...more
Theresa Alan
Sep 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Aisla Rae gets a new heart at the age of 28 after a lifetime of surgeries. The last few years before the transplant she was really sick, as was her first boyfriend, whose Hepatitis went undiagnosed until his liver was in dire shape. Lennox didn’t get the transplant he needed, but she did, and now she has to figure out what to do with her life now that she’s going to have one.

She had been blogging about waiting for her transplant, and now that she’s out of the hospital, she continues to blog, as
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“It’s as though she has been given permission to look out of a window that has always been forbidden to her before: she cannot believe how far away the horizon is, how beautiful the view.”

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is the fifth novel by British author, Stephanie Butland. Ailsa Rae knows that reaching the age of twenty-eight with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is remarkable. Of the fact that she will soon die without a transplant, she’s hyper-aware. But yes, someone else’s misfortune saves h
Emily Field
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ok, confession time. I’m massively biased in this review. Grab your copy of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, turn to the last paragraph of the acknowledgments section at the back of the book, and you’ll see why. That bit about Emily Field, that’s me! I was lucky enough to win a charity auction #AuthorsForGenfellTower where Stephanie Butland very generously agreed to allow the highest bidder to be named in her next book. That was pretty brave of Ms Butland. What if my name had been Lord Buckethead ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Moving, inspiring, and heartfelt!

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a pensive, tender novel that takes us into the life of the courageous, optimistic Ailsa Rae who after living a sheltered, timid life due to a congenital heart defect is struggling to recover, adapt, relearn, and become more adventurous after a heart transplant saves her life.

The writing is direct and sincere. The characters are charming, authentic, and amusing. And the plot using an intriguing mixture of narration, letters, newsp
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a free e-copy of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae from NetGalley for my honest review.

Ailsa Rae, who is 28 years old, hasn't really lived yet. She was born with a congenital heart defect, and wasn't expected to live past her teen years. Now, Ailsa has a new heart and has to learn live a life worth living for.

I loved being able to see Ailsa grow and develop as the story develops. The strength she found to believe in herself and grow as a person was such a wonderful journey. I enjoyed ho
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of this book.
As a recent recipient of donor heart myself, I was really excited to read this! It is a pretty realistic portrayal of life before and after a transplant and it brought a tear to my eye once or twice. But it is an uplifting and witty story of second chances. Elisa is a 28 year old who gets a new heart since being born with a bad hard. She is quirky and charming character as she struggles to adjust to her new found health. It was
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle
I must confess that this book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting – and that’s largely my fault, because I rarely read the “blurb” before opening a new book. But the fact that it was so very different was entirely a positive – there’s no wallowing here, no tear-soaked tissues (ok – maybe a little gulp from time to time…), instead a very likeable heroine trying to work out how to live and be happy, having been given a future she never expected to have.

The relationships in this book are just wonde
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-authors
The Curious Heart of Alisa Rae is a heartwarming look at a transplant patient. Once someone gets a new heart, their life totally changes - they go from being an invalid to learning to do things that they could never do before because of their health. This is Alisa's story from an almost dying 28 year old to a brave and fearless woman who is anxious to live her life to the fullest.

Ailsa has spent all of her life as a heart patient. She was born with a bad heart and has been in and out of the hos
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley, 2018
This book was so cleverly written and gives you plenty of food for thought. Ailsa hsd lived with a chronic heart condition all her life.we get an insight into what life is like with a serious illness and the sorts of things you focus on.
A heart transplant totally transforms her life- but it still comes with reflection on the issues that totally consumed her life before. I enjoyed the different ways that the story is delivered and the relationships and worries that are explored.

Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

I enjoyed Stephanie Butland's first book and was looking forward to her second book, The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae. And it did not disappoint! It was such a charming, funny, and emotional read! At twenty-eight years old, Ailsa has a second chance at life after receiving a heart transplant. Her best friend, Lennox, wasn't as lucky as her and died before receiving a liver transplant. Now, Aisla has to face her new life without him.

For the first time in her life she gets a job, meets new
Deanne Patterson
Ailsa Rae has spent her life in and out of hospitals and living in fear.
In fear of what? See it's her heart, she's been afraid it will give out on her. She's become weaker and weaker and she was dying. She receives a transplant just in time. You become invested in her life and care what happens.
She's been taken care of by her mother who has devoted her life to her daughter's care and this causes a closeness of the women but her mother hovers and doesn't really seem to be able to break the bond
This was a lovely and sweet book and it filled me with pure happiness. Exactly what I needed right now. I fell in love with Ailsa and her mother...and I honestly think that was the true love story. Seb sounded dashing and handsome...but I really loved Ailsa and Hayley

The back and forth timeline isn't as confusing as others have mentioned, but it does mean you need to pay a little attention to the dates.

I really like the way the book dealt with a serious topic (illness, organ donation) in a way t
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae has a highly unusual premise, which makes this book stand out from most others. It is also features a strong protagonist and a heartwarming story. Alisa Rae was born with a heart having only three ventricles and as a result, she is in and out of surgery on a regular basis. The book begins with her dying and she is waiting for a transplant that finally comes through for her. Ailsa yearns for an ordinary everyday life like most people have.

The book centers around her
Paula Sealey
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
I've been a huge fan of Stephanie Butland's previous books, but this one just didn't do it for me. It's the story of Ailsa, who has recently had a heart transplant and I was expecting an emotive read. I didn't get this though, and, other than Seb, I didn't really like any of the characters or gain enjoyment from the overall story.

It jumps around a fair bit from present to past and it wasn't always obvious this had happened so I found myself having to go back and re-read parts. The story is told
May 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Decent book the beginning was a bit slow though
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae is a very different book, not really what I expected at all, and I found it to be something of a departure from her usual writing style. However, once I'd settled myself into the story and begun to find out more about lead character, Ailsa, I was soon intrigued by the plot.

Ailsa is twenty-eight and has a serious heart condition. Serious enough for her and everyone around her to know that it's a possibility that she could die at any time. The only thing that could s
You can also read this review on my blog illbefinealonereads.

This book is an incredible, unputdownable read.
It has a heartwarming story, it’s incredibly engaging, and it just feels fresh. The characters are amazing, beautifully developed, and the relationships set between them felt organic. The pacing was just to my liking, so I had an easy time connecting to it all and getting lost in the story. The writing played a really big part in how enjoyable the book was for me, it’s really well written,
I know this is a lovely, heartfelt, emotional read but nothing here touched me. Sentimental to the point of maudlin, I just couldn't connect with the characters, the story, or anything about it. I really did try.

And I won this book! (Thank you, Goodreads.) I was so thrilled to win a book, and hadn't done so in a long time. I was thinking: is it my reviews? They can run hot and cold sometimes, but seriously, I am very, very honest in my reviews.

So if this book, about a young woman who's finally g
Cynthia (Bingeing On Books)
This was such a great book! Ailsa is experiencing new things after living with a bad heart for twenty plus years. After getting a heart transplant, she is actually living now and experiencing things she has never been able to experience before, like standing in line or getting a job or dating. It was great seeing her character growth and moving from someone who had to get the opinion of her blog readers on every major decision to someone who trusts her gut (and her new heart). The story was very ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-lit
A slow starter but it dealt with the themes of organ donation acute illness and death sensitively.
Ann-Marie "Cookie M."
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ailsa has spent all of her 28 years living with a damaged heart, and now, thanks to the wondrous gift of a donated one she has the chance to learn how to be a whole person. Not one desperate for every breath she takes, utterly dependent on her mother to care for her, never sure if she will live to see another sunrise.
It's not as easy as she thought it would be, gaining independence, caring for a healthy body, stretching her wings.
Stephanie Butland has written a nicely lighthearted novel about
Guylou (Two Dogs and a Book)
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae

Ailsa was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. At age 28, her heart is failing, and she now lives full-time in a hospital Palliative Care Zone. The book starts with the news of a compatible heart and the medical staff rushing Ailsa to the operation room to receive it. The transplant is successful, and the story follows Ailsa as she copes with her new heart and lease on life.

This is a beautifully written story. The life of Ailsa is not unique as so many people wait every day for an opportun
Richelle Robinson
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
*NetGalley Review*

Ailsa has just received a life saving heart transplant and now wants to make up for lost time and take advantage of her new life. During this story we see Alisa’s transformation, triumphs and struggles as she adjusts to her new life. Watching Alisa grow and mature as a person warmed my heart. There is a love interest, Seb but I liked that this wasn’t the main focus of the book. This story also touched on organ donation and really made me think about possibly becoming a donor. I
Liz Fenwick
Utterly wonderful...quirky, heart-warming and emotional...loved it!!
Catherine  Pinkett
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-buddy-reads
I am buddy reading this with my book bestie Keriann. Just read a few small chapters and oh my heart is already involved.It is very thought provoking and emotional and hopefully it continues being so good
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Everything My Mother Taught Me
  • Zenith Man
  • The Angry Women's Choir
  • The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
  • The Lantern Boats
  • One Night Gone
  • Lake News
  • All Fired Up (Road to Love, #3)
  • The Girls
  • The Library
  • Spitfire (Livy Nash #1)
  • This Is Not How It Ends
  • The Sisters of Summit Avenue
  • Three Widows and a Corpse (Food Blogger Mysteries, #3)
  • Wrapped Up In Christmas
  • Waiting for the Miracle
  • The Last Day of Winter (A Winter Day Book, #3)
  • Christmas Every Day
See similar books…
Stephanie Butland is a writer, who is thriving after breast cancer. (She used to say she was a survivor, but that was a bit lacking in joie de vivre.)
Although she’d never have chosen it, her dance with cancer has changed her life in many positive ways. Now she is happier, healthier, and more careful with her precious life and the precious people and things in it.

Her writing career began with her d

News & Interviews

Here at Goodreads World Headquarters, we tend to read a lot of books. Like, a lot a lot. And every December, as we finish up our...
32 likes · 15 comments
“There's no such thing as ordinary, just like there's not really a normal.And there's no such thing as special, either. Or rather, we bring our own special. We make it. We make it when we dare and we make it when we ask for help. We make our lives special when we choose to forgive and move on, and not to make ourselves the centre of everything. We make specialness by trusting to the music and the dance.” 2 likes
“AILSA: I had two questions - first: Can I manage it?; and the second: Can I be bothered to recover from it? There are quite a lot of equations in illness, I think and this is one of the straightforward ones. Does effort plus impact equal value?” 0 likes
More quotes…