The Nine-Chambered Heart – Janice Pariat

Chosen by Sonya

Nine characters recall their relationship with a young woman – the same woman – whom they have loved, or who has loved them.

➽ “The Nine Chambered Heart was my book, and I’m glad for the choice. The concept of nine different voices speaking of their relationship with the central character, is fresh and new. I loved the way we slowly discovered more about her, one puzzle piece at a time. It was a beautifully written novel, clever and gentle in its manner, easy to read. My only criticism of it at the time of reading it was that it felt incomplete. Although I realise it was the author’s intention to leave much unresolved, I felt that some point of finality would have made the book ‘fantastic’ rather than ‘good’. In reflecting on the book during book club discussion, my other issue was although there were nine different voices, these voices spoke in the same way. The writing style did not reflect the characters’ differences. This affected how authentic the voices were in my head. Overall however, a really engaging read I would recommend as a great book club title.” – Sonya

➽ “I loved how this novel offered a different concept to anything else I have ever read. It was a beautifully written story of love and loss. The premise of the book was unique, nine different people describe the same girl they loved at different points of her life. Throughout the novel there are no names or places mentioned, suggesting that these stories/memories can happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. Its a novel that you can’t really sink your teeth in but one you can sit back and enjoy it for what it is.” – Jodie

➽ “The Nine Chambered Heart is a work of experimental fiction, where nine people, over the stretch of a few decades, recall their experiences and relationships with the same woman. Written in the second person it certainly felt as though I was reading something quite special. At first I felt I was learning more about the associates’ lives but by the end I realised I understood the (nameless) woman on an emotional level rather than one based around her activities and opinions, and therefore the text had done its job. Even, what I felt was, objectification of the woman became a moral standpoint on topics relevant in today’s society. My only gripe was that the associates’ voices had a similarity to them but it was not enough to cloud my view on the book, and in fact had me pondering the potential relevance! Lovely book. Lovely cover. I recommend it.” – Rachel

Published 2017
Fourth Estate India
216 pages

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