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Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Rescued Heart, by Madeleine McDonald, Reviewed

Madeleine McDonald’s The Rescued Heart is a good old-fashioned romance, set in modern times in
Switzerland and Edinburg. The story deals with the burgeoning romance between Ellen, a Scottish widow and Christian, a Swiss artist, with the banker, Philip, as the villain. It’s a romance and therefore written with a female readership in mind, since that’s what the publishers of romantic novels expect of their authors.

So, what’s an ancient male doing reading such a book? Well, for a start, I’m just an old romantic. And, secondly, as a writer who enjoys incorporating romance into his own books, it’s helpful to know what readers expect.

Those familiar with my reviews will know that the most important element for me is character. Here we have two main protagonists and one antagonist. All three are skilfully drawn and I easily formed empathy with both Ellen and Christian, whilst quickly disliking Philip. So, it became a book I wanted to read on from the earliest pages. The ancillary characters, principally Ellen’s teenage daughter and son, are drawn with as much care and skilful observation as the main three.

The story takes a number of unexpected twists as it travels through the contemporary landscape of the Swiss art festival and the more familiar countryside of the Scottish family. There are lovely contrasts between the staid and the spontaneous. And there is building tension in the relationship between Ellen and her erstwhile friend, Philip, as his real personality and motives are revealed. Christian is a true artist, with all the freedom of spirit that entails. Further complications are introduced through the appearance and attitudes of the children.

In romantic fiction, true love never runs smooth and this tale has its fair share of ups, downs, twists and turns. There are threads of tension that build toward the very satisfactory denouement, encouraging the reader to read on. This is a book that makes you want to read to the end. Modern romance often seems to be a euphemism for erotica. Not so in this case. Whilst there are sensuous elements, all that happens in the bedroom remains hinted at rather than explicitly displayed.

So, this is a love story, involving mature lovers who find themselves brought together in unexpected circumstances and who fall in love in the most natural way. I found myself rooting for Ellen, whilst feeling frustration at her doubts and insecurities. I wanted Christian to win the day with her and I wished Philip out of Ellen’s life. Were my wishes fulfilled? You’ll have to read the book to find that out.

I enjoyed the read and loved the descriptions of the locations; places I’ve never visited in fact but that I could see as I travelled with the lovers. Madeleine is a gifted writer and she tells a great story. If you like your romance to deal with love and the trials that lead that love across the barriers of real life, you’ll enjoy this book. I thoroughly recommend it.
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