Part love story, part medical mystery, here is Martha Weinman Lear’s wrenching follow-up to her bestselling memoir, Heartsounds
It begins late one afternoon in her kitchen. There is no collapse, no massive pain. Just a slight fluttering sensation in her chest, then chills, and finally, nausea. Probably nothing to worry about, the doctor assures her on the phone. It doesn’t sound like a heart attack.
But it is. Heart attacks in women can look and feel dramatically different than they do in men, which is why they often go undiagnosed. But heart disease is the number-one killer of American women—greater than all forms of cancer combined.
When the doctor examines Lear the day after her episode, the verdict is shocking. So begins an account, filled with grace, humor, and ferocity, of her harrowing journey to recovery, beset by mysterious “complications.” She finds herself in the same hospital—in the same coronary unit, being treated by the same cardiologist—where her late husband, Hal, was a staff doctor and then a patient before he died there. The past is inescapably present.
In Echoes of Heartsounds, Lear interweaves this medical drama with the story of her two loves, from meeting and marrying Hal to the anguish of losing him to the astonishment of finding herself in love again—“by now almost two decades widowed, recently ordained as a senior citizen, Medicare card in my pocket and heart on my sleeve, utterly besotted”—and on the threshold of a rich new life.
Praise for Heartsounds
“Absorbing, wild, funny, tender, enraging, absolutely remarkable . . . An awesome and gripping book. It is about loving as much as about dying.” —The New York Times Book Review
“If love, humor, and determination could restore a ruined heart, surely the Lears would have won.” —Cosmopolitan
“Reads like a fine novel that has the additional resonance of truth.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“[A] powerful and moving account of a man, a woman and an illness.” —The Dallas Morning News
“A testament to the power of human love and the will to live!” —Publishers Weekly
“Heartsounds is a book that reads like a fine novel. . . . A rare, beautifully written cry against the modern ways of death, against death itself: It is worth every degree of the pain it takes to read it.” —Joanne Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times
“Heartsounds, a deeply felt account of a brave doctor’s fight for a full life after a crippling heart attack, is both a celebration of an enviably good marriage and a cry of outrage—a book filled with love and honor and roaring against the night.” —Mordecai Richler, Book-of-the-Month Club News
“It hurts, illuminates, loads the circuits with rage, transmits the energy of a great love . . . beautifully written!” —Gail Sheehy
“Exhilarating—thanks to Lear’s proud honesty!” —Gore Vidal
“It is Love Story made honest and life-size!” —Ira Levin
“The most moving love story I have ever read.” —Joanne Woodward
“Written from the heart . . . It has much to say about the human spirit. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book without feeling the better for it.” —Norman Cousins
“No praise is too high for Heartsounds. . . . An extraordinary book . . . Martha has done a remarkable job balancing her love story with Hal, her desperate, angry struggle to save him, along with tough, specific reportage on the medical profession. . . . What a sense Martha has for anecdote, for character, for time and place . . . for life.” —Patricia Bosworth
“The most courageous book I have ever read . . . A brilliant, powerful love story.” —Nancy Friday
“This is so lusty, so passionate and powerful a love story that it seems to stand up to death itself.” —Marlo Thomas
“A searing chronicle of grace under pressure . . . Readers may learn to make that ultimate toast with which Martha Lear concludes her book: L’chaim—to life.” —The San Francisco Examiner
“Engrossing, touching and very frightening . . . Martha Lear is an eloquent, powerful writer.” —Dr. William A. Nolen, The Washington Post
“Unsparing, proud . . . One weeps through the last chapter.” —Los Angeles Times
“A deeply stirring book . . . Though the story is a familiar one, I have never before read it set down with such power and emotion.” —John Barkham Reviews
“A riveting account of life and love and, yes, death.” —The Washington Star Martha Weinman Lear is the author of Where Did I Leave My Glasses? as well as the bestsellers The Child Worshipers and Heartsounds, which became a Peabody Award–winning film. She is a former articles editor and staff writer for the New York Times Magazine and has written extensively for that and many other national publications, including AARP The Magazine, the New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, GQ, House Beautiful, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s Day, McCall’s, Family Circle, and Reader’s Digest, often on medical, cultural, and sociological subjects. She lives in New York City with her husband, screenwriter Albert Ruben.