Fiction Tell tale heart

Published on February 25th, 2014


The Tell-Tale Heart by Jill Dawson

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Blurb: Patrick, a fifty-year-old professor, drinker and womaniser, has been given six months to live. In a rural part of Cambridgeshire, a teenager dies in a motorcycle accident. When his heart is transplanted into Patrick’s chest, the lives of two strangers are forever conjoined. Patrick makes a good recovery, but has the odd feeling that his old life ‘won’t have him’. Patrick becomes bewitched by the story of his heart, ever more curious about the boy who donated it, his ancestors, the countryside he grew up in. What exactly has Patrick been given? (Sceptre, February 2014)

Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

“Dawson navigates this half-mystical territory with a freshness and wit that belie a seasoned novelist’s careful skill. In 200 short pages, she seamlessly elides political history and neurophysiological theory with the madness that makes people drive too fast and seduce their students. It seems that the human heart, like the richly evoked Fens which the author knows so well, holds more secrets than we might think.”

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Mark Sanderson, The Telegraph

Fortunately, the weepiness is matched by creepiness. The novel is more about folk memory than cellular memory. The Beamish family has a rebel streak and the flashback leading up to the hanging of one of Drew’s forefathers is one of the highlights in a narrative that keeps you guessing. Dawson makes you believe in the intensity of Drew’s adolescent love and even the possibility of Patrick’s redemption.

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Carla McKay, The Daily Mail

“Set in the rural Cambridgeshire fens, this is a tender and thoughtful novel which explores some fundamental questions about identity and the symbolism of the heart.”

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