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Map of the Heart

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Susan Wiggs—an author “who paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master” (Jodi Picoult)—returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story of love and family, war and secrets that moves back and forth across time, from the present day to World War II France An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the bless Susan Wiggs—an author “who paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master” (Jodi Picoult)—returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story of love and family, war and secrets that moves back and forth across time, from the present day to World War II France An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the blessings she’s enjoyed. When her ageing father asks her to go with him to his native France, she has no idea that shes embarking on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her. Returning to the place of his youth sparks unexpected memories—recollections that will lead Camille, her father, and her daughter, Julie, who has accompanied them, back to the dark, terrifying days of the Second World War, where they will uncover their family’s surprising history. While Provence offers answers about her family’s past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, Camille meets a handsome American historian who stirs a passion deep within her she thought she’d never experience again.


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Susan Wiggs—an author “who paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master” (Jodi Picoult)—returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story of love and family, war and secrets that moves back and forth across time, from the present day to World War II France An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the bless Susan Wiggs—an author “who paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master” (Jodi Picoult)—returns with a deeply emotional and atmospheric story of love and family, war and secrets that moves back and forth across time, from the present day to World War II France An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the blessings she’s enjoyed. When her ageing father asks her to go with him to his native France, she has no idea that shes embarking on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her. Returning to the place of his youth sparks unexpected memories—recollections that will lead Camille, her father, and her daughter, Julie, who has accompanied them, back to the dark, terrifying days of the Second World War, where they will uncover their family’s surprising history. While Provence offers answers about her family’s past, it also holds the key to Camille’s future. Along the way, Camille meets a handsome American historian who stirs a passion deep within her she thought she’d never experience again.

30 review for Map of the Heart

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn's

    WOW! Just WOW! Map of the Heart stole my heart and led me on a romantic journey of healing and love in both present day and war torn France in WWII. Susan Wiggs wrote an amazing story that was intriguing, capturing the beautiful and tragic moments of a family that (rather they realize it or not) is in search of healing. While we are introduced to Camille Adams who is a widow raising her teenage daughter alone yet with a strong family presence supporting her, Camille is merely going through the m WOW! Just WOW! Map of the Heart stole my heart and led me on a romantic journey of healing and love in both present day and war torn France in WWII. Susan Wiggs wrote an amazing story that was intriguing, capturing the beautiful and tragic moments of a family that (rather they realize it or not) is in search of healing. While we are introduced to Camille Adams who is a widow raising her teenage daughter alone yet with a strong family presence supporting her, Camille is merely going through the motions and not living. Her daughter Julie is experiencing her own sort of withdraw from society as she finds herself on the outside of friendships and activities in school that she usually excelled in- leading to trouble both at home and school. When Camille's father wants to return to his native France Camille doesn't want to leave the safety of Bethany Bay- the place she has been hiding since her husband's tragic death. Her father and her daughter- who needs the time away for her own healing and growth- finally convince Camille to go. Embarking on this journey brings the family to the place where it all began, where it all comes together, and where it reinvents and restores the entire family. While Camille's father is on his journey he is reacquainted with someone from his past that heals a whole in his heart years empty. The story of Henry Palmer is unearthed and is one of beauty, love, loss, healing and discovery. The journey is beautiful tale of enduring love with a deserving ending. Camille's journey leads her to seek assistance in France from a fellow American who is teaching and researching in France. Finn is taken aback by his attraction to Camille yet knows this attraction is something he can't ignore. His flirtation with Camille is sweet, adorable and romantic. Her heart is closed off after her husband's tragic death, her failed attempts at dating, and her turmoil with raising a teenager. Finn is on his own search for answers concerning his father and as well and their common bond over unearthing their family's path bring these two together in a slow, sweet and sexy romance that brings Camille out of her shell and convinces Finn he can have it all. It would be terrible not to recognize the beauty of the story of Julie. As a teenager struggling with changes in your body, mind and spirit, Julie is struggling with handling the death of her father and dealing with other teens that are cruel and nasty. My heart broke for Julie. When her Papi relays his own past too Julie it gives her a strength to overcome as well as move forward- namely by going to France. While in France Julie experiences friendships that nurture her soul as well as changes that enhance the beauty of this strong and intelligent daughter. I have read numerous Susan Wiggs books and this is my absolute favorite. Her words capture the beauty of present day as well as war torn France during WWII and made me as if I was there, experiencing all the joys and devastation of Lillie.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Noriko

    Writing Beautiful, descriptive, and poetic. I could easily visualize the beautiful, soothing landscape of Southern France under the bright sunshine, and the beach. The pacing is on-point. I didn’t find anything to fault in her writing. Characters I didn’t get to invest in any of the characters as a matter of fact. The cast of characters is diverse and intriguing, yet I felt nothing but irritation toward the main character, Camille. She lost her beloved husband in a climbing accident 5 years ago and Writing Beautiful, descriptive, and poetic. I could easily visualize the beautiful, soothing landscape of Southern France under the bright sunshine, and the beach. The pacing is on-point. I didn’t find anything to fault in her writing. Characters I didn’t get to invest in any of the characters as a matter of fact. The cast of characters is diverse and intriguing, yet I felt nothing but irritation toward the main character, Camille. She lost her beloved husband in a climbing accident 5 years ago and the accident and the grief turned her into a secretive hermit who is deathly afraid of taking any risk. She has been wallowing in her own grief and kind of refuses to let his memory go which is totally understandable yet her potentially irrational fears kept bugging me throughout the book. While I totally understand where she’s coming from, where her fears and hesitation to move forward comes from, I still found her a bit unreasonable and selfish especially from her over-protectiveness toward her daughter, Julie. As for Finn, he came across a flirt and one-dimensional, I didn’t get to find any depth in his character arc. His words when he pleads camille not to write their relationship off are wonderful and convincing; he talks Camille into getting up the courage to move forward rather than shutting others out which totally hits the nail on the head, but other than that, he came across a very convenient character thrown into the book just to move the story forward. Basically, none of the characters left a huge impact on me, sadly to say. By the way, the narrator’s performance for Finn was just terrible... it was straight-out flat and monotonous. I couldn’t feel ANY emotions from Finn. Which could have been the reason why this audiobook didn’t hit me as strongly as I had anticipated. Plot I liked how the two story lines - one with the present and the other set in France during WW2 - move parallel with each other and intertwine in the end. I particularly enjoyed the story line with Lisette and this subplot actually made me want to read some WW2 historical novels. It is very atmospheric and intriguing to follow. The overall plot of unravelling the family history is also well-written and well-developed. These two timelines and two story lines beautifully entwine with Camille and Julie’s self-development and lead to a heart-warming family reunion. That said though, the overall narration came across kind of lackluster for me. I don’t know if it was due to the tone of Susan Wiggs’ writing; I’ve only read two of her books but I perceive her voice is generally calm and quiet and so does the narrator’s voice. Don’t get me wrong- her performance was totally fine (other than the aforementioned Finn part), but something was amiss for me and it ended up failing to capture my attention. I did make it to the end, but this book didn’t emotionally move me as much. I was along for the ride throughout the book just to see how the story ends. Camille’s journey to make peace with her past and pursuit of a second chance and self-discovery, which was supposed to be moving and captivating didn’t pan out with me. It kind of fell flat and I was personally a bit disappointed. But then again, it might have been because of my lack of empathy toward Camille for what I find her selfishness (because what she does to her daughter is tantamount to clipping her wings!! She’s only 14 years old for God’s sake, but for fear of losing her daughter, Camille restricts her daughter’s activities a great deal), and her character arc didn’t gel with me. Once again, I do feel sorry for her and do understand her grief, but she should have known she cannot live in the past forever, but her unwillingness to move on and adamant refusal to grant her father's wish kind of bugged me and hindered me from being invested in her fully. Final Thoughts To put it in a nutshell, this book turned out to be a bit of a letdown. Although there are a lot of great ingredients which would make this book captivating and enthralling, it didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. I don’t know if it was because of the format (audiobook) and I might have had a totally different impression had I read a phyiscal book. Either way, this book didn’t stir my emotions as much and as a reader who look for emotions in a book, this is a 3 star-rating book. Not bad, but not amazing. I like Susan Wiggs’ writing style, so this book definitely won’t be my last, but for this book, I cannot give more than 3 stars.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I have been a long time reader of Susan Wiggs and this is my favorite book by her. It's a wonderful story told in a dual time line with characters that readers can identify with. The settings in France are beautiful and the plot keeps the reader interested until the last page. Camille and her teenage daughter, Julie, live by themselves in a small town and both are still mourning the loss of their husband/father five years after his death. Camille used to be brave and fearless but since her husba I have been a long time reader of Susan Wiggs and this is my favorite book by her. It's a wonderful story told in a dual time line with characters that readers can identify with. The settings in France are beautiful and the plot keeps the reader interested until the last page. Camille and her teenage daughter, Julie, live by themselves in a small town and both are still mourning the loss of their husband/father five years after his death. Camille used to be brave and fearless but since her husband's death in a climbing accident, she wants to live safely in her own little bubble and (much to her daughter's dismay), she wants to keep Julie in the bubble with her. A mysterious package sent to her father from his family in France, starts the three of them on an adventure to find answers to all of their questions about her father's parents. The second story line is the story of Camille's grandparents in France during WWII. These story lines are told simultaneously and when they meld together at the end, the secrets are revealed. This is so much more than a typical love story - it's a perfect blend of a love story and historical fiction and is a fantastic book to read. I highly recommend it. Thanks to librarything for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    This would have been a solid 3 stars; I just don’t feel it was one of her better books. But then....she had to go and make grandpa gay. Why? It served zero purpose nor added anything of value to the story. Like it was shoved in as an afterthought just to keep up with what the hot topic is right now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

    The plot of this sounded enticing. It’s difficult for me to resist WWII and the Resistance and so forth! However, having read fifty pages or so, I couldn’t get past the more than occasional crude references to bodily functions! They cast a pallor over the fairly unremarkable writing, from my perspective. What was the point? Reminded me boys in junior high.

  6. 5 out of 5

    KarenK

    I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. The story is told in dual time lines, current day Massachusetts and France during WW II "An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the blessings she’s enjoyed. When her ageing father asks her to go with him to his native France, she has no idea that shes embarking on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her. " The ending is all wrapped up in a tidy ball, it was an o I received this ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. The story is told in dual time lines, current day Massachusetts and France during WW II "An accomplished photographer, widow, and mother, Camille Palmer is content with the blessings she’s enjoyed. When her ageing father asks her to go with him to his native France, she has no idea that shes embarking on an adventure that will shake her complacency and utterly transform her. " The ending is all wrapped up in a tidy ball, it was an okay read. Not bad not great. 3☆

  7. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars - Top Pick! See the full review at HarlequinJunkie.com Heartbreakingly beautiful, Map of the Heart was another captivating piece of fiction from Susan Wiggs. A dual storyline set in WWII-era France and then in Bethany Bay, Delaware in the present time, we followed two couples who each faced serious challenges and seemingly insurmountable odds. Susan Wiggs is one of my go-to authors for women’s fiction/chick lit. She always writes a heartfelt story and also frequently incorp Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars - Top Pick! See the full review at HarlequinJunkie.com Heartbreakingly beautiful, Map of the Heart was another captivating piece of fiction from Susan Wiggs. A dual storyline set in WWII-era France and then in Bethany Bay, Delaware in the present time, we followed two couples who each faced serious challenges and seemingly insurmountable odds. Susan Wiggs is one of my go-to authors for women’s fiction/chick lit. She always writes a heartfelt story and also frequently incorporates historical elements that add another layer to her character’s lives. In this case, we moved back and forth between the 1940s and modern day. Now I will say that the portions of the book set during WWII–Lisette’s journey–were tragic and rather bleak at times as you would expect, but they still had some wonderful moments of joy and hope as she fell in love and helped fight back against Germany in her own way. Read More

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Camille Adams has not fully recovered from the tragic accident that killed her husband. She projects her fear of risk onto her daughter Julie, keeping her close to home. Julie is struggling at school, but doesn't want to upset her mother in her grief. When a trunk is sent to Camille's father from his childhood home in France, the mysteries of their family's past are brought to light. It also opens up a chance to find new beginnings for Camille, her father and Julie. The story is told alternating Camille Adams has not fully recovered from the tragic accident that killed her husband. She projects her fear of risk onto her daughter Julie, keeping her close to home. Julie is struggling at school, but doesn't want to upset her mother in her grief. When a trunk is sent to Camille's father from his childhood home in France, the mysteries of their family's past are brought to light. It also opens up a chance to find new beginnings for Camille, her father and Julie. The story is told alternating between today and the family dynamics that bring about deeper closeness and a chance at romance for Camille and the history of the grandmother, Lisette, and the challenges she faced in their small town in France in WWII. I loved the description of the beauty of the Provencal countryside and discovering Lisette's love story. A wonderful book that is hard to put down.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    My favorite genre—dual time line/WW II & contemporary—from a talented story teller and narrator combo. Once I started listening, I could not stop! Great listening experience. Really enjoyed it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    BEST BOOK OF 2017! Camille annoyed me a little bit but she was understandable and sympathetic. Besides that small quibble, I loved everything about this book. The characters were so well done. From the teenager and her story to the grandfather. I was so enthralled in the dual timeline . I really don't know which I loved more! The ending was SO PERFECT! The romance wasn't overstated. In the beginning I worried it would be "too much" but the distance was a nice way of them to get to know each othe BEST BOOK OF 2017! Camille annoyed me a little bit but she was understandable and sympathetic. Besides that small quibble, I loved everything about this book. The characters were so well done. From the teenager and her story to the grandfather. I was so enthralled in the dual timeline . I really don't know which I loved more! The ending was SO PERFECT! The romance wasn't overstated. In the beginning I worried it would be "too much" but the distance was a nice way of them to get to know each other first and cool it down, lol. Any sex scenes were behind closed doors. I think maybe two were implied, that's it. I completely fell into this world and when the book ended I was crying happy tears and thinking it seems so long yet so short. So long because so much change and development happened but too short because it was so good I didn't want it to end. Get this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heather Alderman

    I feel kind of bad giving this a low rating. I am sure plenty of people would really enjoy this book, but for me, I do not like this style of writing that is overly descriptive of every detail and everything is so perfect and gorgeous. The storyline was okay, but the characters grated on my nerves.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Morgan

    I loved the two stories happening back and forth.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vikki Vaught

    What an enjoyable read! So glad I decided to download this audio version. It's been years since I've read a book by Susan Wiggs; now I remember why I always loved her books. Great story, great charaters, lots of emotionally writing. Happy reading! What an enjoyable read! So glad I decided to download this audio version. It's been years since I've read a book by Susan Wiggs; now I remember why I always loved her books. Great story, great charaters, lots of emotionally writing. Happy reading!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Asheley

    This story is a standalone with dual timelines, set in present day with flashbacks to WWII-era France. This is the story of a woman that is afraid to loosen up and live because she is crippled by fear and past hurts. It’s also a story of family. Camille lives as a helicopter parent, doing her best to keep her daughter Julie safe, but mostly stifling Julie’s adventurous spirit (and her own). After the tragic death of Camille’s husband about five years ago, Camille is terrified of risk, afraid she This story is a standalone with dual timelines, set in present day with flashbacks to WWII-era France. This is the story of a woman that is afraid to loosen up and live because she is crippled by fear and past hurts. It’s also a story of family. Camille lives as a helicopter parent, doing her best to keep her daughter Julie safe, but mostly stifling Julie’s adventurous spirit (and her own). After the tragic death of Camille’s husband about five years ago, Camille is terrified of risk, afraid she will lose someone that she loves in another accident. When Camille’s father Henry decides that he wants to visit his homeland of France and that he wants Camille and Julie to accompany him, she initially refuses. Eventually she relents, and the trio have the summer of a lifetime. Map of the Heart actually has several intertwining story lines involving Camille, her daughter Julie, Camille’s father Henry, and Finn – a college professor that works along with Camille’s family to find missing pieces of their family history by looking at historical photographs. Camille meets Finn innocently enough, but their story become entangled not only because of business, but because the two fall for one another while working hard to determine Henry’s family’s backstory. I was so excited to start this one because I enjoy Susan Wiggs’ stories so much. When I started reading Map of the Heart, I felt like there were a ton of characters and I wondered if I would be able to keep them separate and follow the multiple little story lines. After just a few chapters, I fell into the story and found that as I neared the end, I couldn’t put the book down. The more the stories and histories of these characters connect, the better it becomes. I particularly love Julie’s part in the story. At the beginning of the book, she is struggling with school and most of her peers are making her life miserable. Add to that the overprotective nature of Camille, and Julie just isn’t happy. I really felt for this young girl with all of the pressure she was under, but I was thrilled to see that she began to grow and change once she went to France for the summer. After the summer and the change of scenery, Julie is a much happier and healthier person. I adored her throughout the entire story, so seeing her do so well by the end of the book made me very happy. I also love the theme of family that resonates so strongly throughout this story. I feel like Ms. Wiggs loves to write about family as much as she loves to write about love, because I tend to feel like her books (the ones that I’ve read, at least) feature relationships and family as much or more than romance. Camille’s story with her father and daughter is the one that I felt was the major story here, and the development of her relationship with Finn seemed to take a little bit of a backseat to that. Their relationship certainly had page time, but they only grew to be a couple while working on Camille’s family project. The way things worked out in the end was wonderful. When I finished the book, I was really touched by how everything came together and how everyone fared. The more books that I read by Ms. Wiggs, the more I want to spend time with her catalog. I’m currently working my way through the Lakeshore Chronicles series and absolutely loving it, and her next book Between You and Me is one of my most anticipated upcoming releases. I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you, Avon Books! Find this review and more like it on my blog, Into the Hall of Books!

  15. 4 out of 5

    RumBelle

    This book sounded like such a great story. I love novels about family mysteries and secrets, especially when they revolve around World War II. So much about this book annoyed me though, it made it extremely unpleasant to read. First, Camille. EVERYTHING freaked this woman out. Her father going to France, her teen daughter staying home while she went out to a festival, her daughter participating in a school surf training class. Anytime any other character would suggest something to her, her immed This book sounded like such a great story. I love novels about family mysteries and secrets, especially when they revolve around World War II. So much about this book annoyed me though, it made it extremely unpleasant to read. First, Camille. EVERYTHING freaked this woman out. Her father going to France, her teen daughter staying home while she went out to a festival, her daughter participating in a school surf training class. Anytime any other character would suggest something to her, her immediate response was no. No, no one could do anything for fear someone might get hurt. In small doses that's reasonable, but not about every single issue or topic that is raised! She was such an annoyingly, infuriating character. In a way it was somewhat understandable, she became worried about everything in life after her husband's death, but it was just excess and made the book really off putting. Second, a lot of the writing was so cliche, or just gross, or unnecessarily silly. The writing, during the modern era of the book was trying so hard to be current and modern that it just came off as ridiculous to me. The part of the story that took place during World War II was marginally better, but not by much. I did really like the characters of Julie and Finn. Julie was a level headed, smart girl going through some really bad times at school with bullying and self esteem issues. I related a lot to Julie's bad experiences, and her situation made me really sympathetic. Finn was an intriguing, spunky character he was extremely knowledgeable about France and it's history. He was also passionate, a very like able character. What this book really amounted to for me was nothing but annoyance and aggravation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Two storylines run parallel here (present day & WW2 eras), and eventually intertwine. So what happens when you adore one plot (or more accurately, one set of characters) and the other is simply, "meh"? A 3 star rating, I suppose. Two storylines run parallel here (present day & WW2 eras), and eventually intertwine. So what happens when you adore one plot (or more accurately, one set of characters) and the other is simply, "meh"? A 3 star rating, I suppose.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    While I gave this 4 stars, I rounded up because I wanted to keep reading, but felt that it tried to cover too much (bullying, nazis, underground allied supporter, homosexuality).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gail Nelson

    Not my favorite. A little too sappy and predictable. Couldn't really get invested in any of the characters... Not my favorite. A little too sappy and predictable. Couldn't really get invested in any of the characters...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    http://greatreadsandtealeaves.blogspo... ‘The moments of life are ephemeral and unpredictable. We must capture the best ones and keep them safe in our hearts.’ I was eager to read a Susan Wiggs book and was pleasantly surprised by this dual time narrative with characters that a range of readers should identify with. With idyllic French Provencal settings and a plot to keep the reader engaged to the end, it proved a wonderful read. The insight into photography is a real bonus and I appreciated the http://greatreadsandtealeaves.blogspo... ‘The moments of life are ephemeral and unpredictable. We must capture the best ones and keep them safe in our hearts.’ I was eager to read a Susan Wiggs book and was pleasantly surprised by this dual time narrative with characters that a range of readers should identify with. With idyllic French Provencal settings and a plot to keep the reader engaged to the end, it proved a wonderful read. The insight into photography is a real bonus and I appreciated the section opening quotes: ‘Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.’ DOROTHEA LANGE, AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER I am a big fan of dual narratives and this one was well done, although (and not surprisingly) I found one story to be stronger than the other. The modern day story of Camille and the mystery surrounding her husband’s death, was at times a little too drawn out and repetitive. Whilst on the one hand you empathised, Camille would then act in an immature and annoying way. The story of her grandmother, Lisette, and her tale of life and love in small town France during WWII was far more engaging. A French resistance heroine and downed American paratrooper was a classic tale. Overall, however, it is a good mix of the historical and contemporary stories. At it’s heart it is a traditional wartime love story that unfolds into present day and the granddaughters second chance at love, whilst unfolding the mystery surrounding her father’s family. I like that there is more to it than just pure romance and the family mystery is noteworthy. You get a real feel for the lead characters and the journey of self discovery they are on - the trauma and anguish and how they deal with it. There are also a range of secondary characters that add real depth to the story - Henri, Hank, Julie - are well written and bring their own story to life and it all blends together very well. The loss of one star rating had to do with Camille and Finn’s relationship - the way they met (his anger was so understandable and I could not comprehend his complete turnaround) and how they initially interacted, I found cringe worthy and, at times, the banter was silly - it just took credibility away from what is otherwise, a really good story. The stereotypical widow single mother, meeting handsome professor, initially resistant but flirting and circumstances working it’s magic in trying to bring that happy ending. However, do not let this distract you from what is essentially a very engaging and satisfying story. There are enough unique aspects to this tale to rate it higher than your average women’s fiction story. More than just a romance, this is a story of family, love, loss, healing and the courage to take the second chance. ‘She used to take pictures, wandering for hours on her travels, a favorite camera thumping against her sternum. She used to disappear into the act of capturing an image, exposing its secrets, freezing a moment.’ This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marlene

    Originally published at Reading Reality I picked up Map of the Heart because I absolutely adored last year’s Family Tree. And while I did like Map of the Heart, it just didn’t suck me into reading it in a single non-stop day the way that Family Tree did. I want to say that Map of the Heart is two stories blended into one. But that happens on more than one axis, making me wonder if I should describe it as two stories, or perhaps four. First, it’s a time-slip story. While most of the action takes pla Originally published at Reading Reality I picked up Map of the Heart because I absolutely adored last year’s Family Tree. And while I did like Map of the Heart, it just didn’t suck me into reading it in a single non-stop day the way that Family Tree did. I want to say that Map of the Heart is two stories blended into one. But that happens on more than one axis, making me wonder if I should describe it as two stories, or perhaps four. First, it’s a time-slip story. While most of the action takes place in the 21st century present, there are significant chapters that occur in the mid-20th century past, in the midst of the Italian, and subsequently German, occupation of southeastern France during the dark days of World War II. And much of the 21st century action revolves around discovering the connections between that old history and today in the lives of the story’s protagonists, particularly Henry Palmer, nee Palomar, his daughter Camille and her daughter Julie. But the story also has its 21st century “before and after”. The beginning of the story takes place in Camille’s tiny hometown of Bethany Bay, Maryland. And all is far from well. Five years previously, Camille’s husband Jace was killed in a tragic accident, and the formerly adventurous Camille retreated from the world into her safe space in her small town. Jace’s death left her afraid to risk, not just for herself, but also for her daughter Julie. Julie was 9 when her father died, and is now 14, ready to begin stretching her wings while still having a nest to fly back to. Instead, Julie’s life seems to be on hold while Camille retreats in fear from the universe. And in her continued self-absorption, Camille doesn’t recognize that Julie is suffering from the hell that is mean-girl high school bullying. And as if her fears for Julie are not enough, Camille is still reeling after her beloved father’s year of cancer treatment. Henry’s cancer is currently in remission, but they all know that this is only a reprieve and not a cure. In the midst of the mess she already has, two events burst the safe shell of Camille’s little world. Professor Malcolm Finnemore needs Camille, in her professional capacity as a restorer of found archival film, to process the photos retrieved from his father’s old camera – the last pictures that intrepid journalist Robert Finnemore took before he was captured by the North Vietnamese Army and never seen again. And the tenants residing in the old farmhouse that Camille discovers her father still owns back in his native France send him a large trunk filled with mementos of the life that her father left behind – including old photographs of his beautiful but haunted mother and his despicable father, a Nazi collaborator. Henry Palmer wants to go home, to deal with the ghosts these mementos have brought to light. Julie wants to escape her tormentors by any means available, and France sounds like a great place to go. Camille just wants to keep her little family safe at home, so that she doesn’t have to confront her fears, or anyone’s ghosts. But the exposure of Julie’s suffering keeps reminding her that even home is not safe. And that her fears should not continue to cripple her daughter, or keep her father from closure of his own griefs. And if she can heal just a bit of what’s holding her back, the handsome Professor Finnemore is also in France, just waiting to help her the rest of the way. If she can bear to let go. Escape Rating B: So this story is split along two different axes. We see Camille and her family in the present, and also her grandmother Lisette in the past. A huge part of this story involves Camille’s search to make the two connect. Because at first they don’t. Lisette, just like Camille, was a photographer. And her photographs of herself and of her disgusting husband lead Camille to an inescapable conclusion – blond and blue-eyed Lisette and her equally blond and blue-eyed husband could not have been the parents of black-haired and brown-eyed Henry. Genetics don’t work that way. Since Lisette died giving birth to Henry, her part in his parentage is not in question, leaving her husband’s part in grave but oddly hopeful doubt. Finding out that one is not the son or the granddaughter of a despicable Nazi collaborator would, after all, come as a great relief. Camille is hunting for the truth of her own heritage. Most of her hunt takes place after she bows to the inevitable and accompanies her father and her daughter to France. And it is at that point, when she finally, reluctantly boards that plane, that the story itself takes wing. Unfortunately, that point is literally at the halfway point. The first half of the story, back in Bethany Bay, felt like a slog for this reader. Seeing the situation that Camille, and Julie, are escaping from is necessary, but for this reader it went on much too long. It’s not just that it is all depressing, although Julie’s situation certainly is depressing, it’s also the way that Camille drags her feet just drags down on the story. Her almost-pathological resistance slows the story to a crawl until she finally gets on that damn plane. At first, the brief trip back to Lisette’s past, while interesting, doesn’t change the tone. Her part of the story is dark, because her history was dark. And while all of these issues are important to the story as a whole, they just didn’t move much. I didn’t need them to be happy, that wouldn’t have been appropriate, but I did need more of a sense that they were moving the story forward and not just wallowing. Your mileage may vary. Once the action moves to France, the story kicks into gear. Camille’s hunt for her family’s history was fascinating, and the involvement with and explanation of the uses of “found film” was very interesting. There are quite a few projects and specialists who deal with these issues in the real world, and what they discover often brings to light first-person perspectives on events that were thought to be lost. (If this part of the story grabs you, check out The Rescued Film Project) Reviewer’s note: One thing that this book does well is to convey the sheer and utter hopelessness that happens when one is the victim of bullying. Anything that you do, or that your family attempts to do, just makes it worse. It always happens away from adult supervision, and the packs of bullies are very good at protecting themselves. Because they are often led by the popular kids, and because other kids want to be part of that in group and not become victims themselves, the one being bullied is left with nowhere to turn. And the more isolated the victims become, the less likely anyone on the outside is to believe them. I am speaking from brutal experience, which made me both empathize deeply with Julie and desperately want that part of the story to move on – fast. That Henry was still scarred by his own experiences of bullying, even though those events were more than a half-century in the past, rang entirely too true.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    This has been on my shelves for a long time and I wasn't sure about it - I don't generally go for anything historical. But Wiggs is going to be at a book festival and I want her to sign the book, so I figured I should read it before then. Boy am I glad I did. I stayed up all night finishing it. This is true chick-lit, not the junk food romance that's like candy. This is richer, more satisfying. Although I wish the main character hadn't been quite so unreasonably stubborn, I didn't dislike her to This has been on my shelves for a long time and I wasn't sure about it - I don't generally go for anything historical. But Wiggs is going to be at a book festival and I want her to sign the book, so I figured I should read it before then. Boy am I glad I did. I stayed up all night finishing it. This is true chick-lit, not the junk food romance that's like candy. This is richer, more satisfying. Although I wish the main character hadn't been quite so unreasonably stubborn, I didn't dislike her to the point of not liking the book at all. And Christina Traister's narration - wow! The only thing I don't like is the way she phrases questions sometimes. They sound like more of a statement, with her voice not going up at the end as a normal question would. I quickly got past that with her emotional performance. I didn't love her lower range for male characters, but that's also just personal preference. I appreciated the way Wiggs closed the door on the bedroom. I didn't need a whole lot of detail to detract from the story. The story within the story, as well as the arc that centered on the main character's daughter, were wonderful in the way they deepened the plot. And the way it all ended was perfect. I tend to steer around chick-lit for the most part. I think I need to read a few more things from this author. If the rest of her stuff is this good, she's not to be missed.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Map of the Heart is an emotional family saga of secrets, betrayals, heartbreak , understanding and most of all a love that spans through time and finds it's way back in an extraordinary way. The journey that takes the reader across oceans to France and back to the lovely waterfront village in Bethany Bay in Delaware. Camille and her father, along with her daughter Julie will take a summer in France to find the secrets about who her father really is. Helping her with this search is a Finn, who is Map of the Heart is an emotional family saga of secrets, betrayals, heartbreak , understanding and most of all a love that spans through time and finds it's way back in an extraordinary way. The journey that takes the reader across oceans to France and back to the lovely waterfront village in Bethany Bay in Delaware. Camille and her father, along with her daughter Julie will take a summer in France to find the secrets about who her father really is. Helping her with this search is a Finn, who is a American historian working in France. Together they will find the lost loves of her father's family and she will find a passion she never thought to find again. This is one of Susan Wiggs finest books and if you are a fan, you will love this book and if you are knew to her books, you will become a fan for life.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Vicki

    I absolutely love this beautifully written lyrical prose. The quality of her writing is impressive! I’m so glad I saw this hard cover book at B&N for a 2 for $5 purchase! So worth it!! Camille Adams is the MC who is an overprotective parent for understandable reasons, but she suffocated her daughter Julie. Camille experienced a very tragic event in her life, an event that changed her forever. After a very trumatic event people often are afraid to venture out anymore and she loses that ability to I absolutely love this beautifully written lyrical prose. The quality of her writing is impressive! I’m so glad I saw this hard cover book at B&N for a 2 for $5 purchase! So worth it!! Camille Adams is the MC who is an overprotective parent for understandable reasons, but she suffocated her daughter Julie. Camille experienced a very tragic event in her life, an event that changed her forever. After a very trumatic event people often are afraid to venture out anymore and she loses that ability to take risks in life that she normally would otherwise. At least until her father asks her to go with him to France. I really connected with the characters and felt they were very realistic, especially Julie. I think that is because she is portrayed as being a teenager who is bullied in school and struggles with school probably as a result of that. So it was difficult to see how hard life was for her. Watching her grow and mature and learn some of life‘s difficult lessons was very rewarding. Please read this one.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    I always know reading a book by Susan Wiggs that I will run the gamut of emotions and will be left smiling in the end. Map of the Heart was no exception. Told in duel time lines, it is a beautifully written story about love, sacrifice and family. I really loved this story. I'll admit in the beginning that I wasn't too keen on Camille. But as her story unfolded, I could understand her reluctance to let her heart feel again. As well as he over-protectiveness toward her doughier. Finn was my absolu I always know reading a book by Susan Wiggs that I will run the gamut of emotions and will be left smiling in the end. Map of the Heart was no exception. Told in duel time lines, it is a beautifully written story about love, sacrifice and family. I really loved this story. I'll admit in the beginning that I wasn't too keen on Camille. But as her story unfolded, I could understand her reluctance to let her heart feel again. As well as he over-protectiveness toward her doughier. Finn was my absolute favorite. He was funny and a breath of fresh air. My favorite part of the book was Lisette's storyline. It was bittersweet and gut wrenching at the same time. I don't want to give anything away. It's best to let the secrets within the book be discovered along with Camille and Finn. I highly recommend picking this book up.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joy Gerbode

    I love this book! I enjoy historical fiction, and there is enough of that smattered throughout the story to be enjoyable. I also like a good romance, and this is clearly a good romance, on so many levels. I enjoy travel, so this armchair travel to the south of France is fantastic. And I LOVE a good mystery, which this certainly is, as the characters try to unravel the mysteries of the past. Great word feasts, too, with poignant moments about living life to the fullest, each and every day. A wond I love this book! I enjoy historical fiction, and there is enough of that smattered throughout the story to be enjoyable. I also like a good romance, and this is clearly a good romance, on so many levels. I enjoy travel, so this armchair travel to the south of France is fantastic. And I LOVE a good mystery, which this certainly is, as the characters try to unravel the mysteries of the past. Great word feasts, too, with poignant moments about living life to the fullest, each and every day. A wonderful read. I will certainly be reading more from this author!

  26. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

    Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs is well written with believable characters and a great plot. I love this author's books and this one was no exception. I received an ARC via Netgalley and this is my unbiased review. Map of the Heart by Susan Wiggs is well written with believable characters and a great plot. I love this author's books and this one was no exception. I received an ARC via Netgalley and this is my unbiased review.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rya Marrelli

    3.75! I thoroughly enjoyed this, though a few parts were a bit too cheesy for my taste! But all of the different stories wove together really nicely!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I love this book!! Such a sweet story in a time of sadness :)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deb Carlberg

    4 1/2 stars ... a good read

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    As can be expected from this author, all of whose books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed, this is another fantastic heartwarming read about two women who struggle to overcome the vestiges of their past memories as they move on in the world. Little does Camille Palmer, an accomplished photographer, widow, and mother of Julie, know how a trip her elderly father takes her and Julie on to his native France will transform both of their lives. Camille still mourns her dead husband, Jace, and has not As can be expected from this author, all of whose books I have read and thoroughly enjoyed, this is another fantastic heartwarming read about two women who struggle to overcome the vestiges of their past memories as they move on in the world. Little does Camille Palmer, an accomplished photographer, widow, and mother of Julie, know how a trip her elderly father takes her and Julie on to his native France will transform both of their lives. Camille still mourns her dead husband, Jace, and has not reconciled his death, even after years. Julie is a young girl going through the throes of adolescence, as she emerges into womanhood. Because Jace is gone, Camille hoovers over Julie a bit too much, stifling the young girl, though Camille does not even realize it. On her part, Julie finds herself maturing slower than others in her group at school and has become the outsider, the butt of the bullying jokes and pranks of the group she used to hang with. Julie has not told her mother of her problems, so Camille is totally surprised when she finds out. Then, Camille’s father confides that he also was bullied while a youngster in a small town in France post WWII because of his father’s traitorous actions during the German occupation of his small town. Finally, Camille’s inability to move on since Jace’s death has left her vulnerable in love, when she meets Finn, a former Naval officer turned professor teaching in France who is also helping families of lost soldiers find their loved ones and reconcile their own pasts. Finn turns Camille’s head and life upside down, as she also turns Finn’s life around. Camille’s father convinces her and Julie to accompany him to France to check out the property he owns as well as reconcile memories he has of his life there. This trip and the secrets/mysteries they discover totally upends their lives, as family secrets and histories are found through a myriad of clues at the old family farmstead. In the book, we watch these two women and the family patriarch delve into a past filled with subtle nuances and secrets no one ever imagined existed. In addition, the addition of Finn in Camille’s life brings out new feelings and possible hopes for a bright, different future. I absolutely loved this book. The story wove its way through WWII years and today with ease and smoothness. I was pulled in from the very beginning. The author, true to form, has woven a fantastic story about two lives and how they manage to find answers as well as support and love in each other and their families. I loved watching Camille and Julie grow as they found answers to and meaning in their own lives. In addition, it was fascinating to watch the true story of Camille’s father’s own life unfold, with its ups and down and uncovered family secrets. Finally, the love story/romance between Finn and Camille was an additional, wonderful part of this story to watch as it developed and grew. This is a fantastic book, and will become one of my favorites by this author. The characters are realistic and well done. I loved seeing strong women in Camille and Julie, who meet and take on the challenges life sends them, working toward resolution without wavering. This book will appeal to any reader who enjoys a good, strong romance with a little bit of added mystery. If I could give it more than five stars I would have. I received this from Library Thing to read and review.

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