The Heart Has Its Reasons
With her debut novel The Time in Between, María Dueñas garnered outstanding acclaim and inspired a TV series, dubbed the “Spanish Downton Abbey” by the media. USA TODAY said of the book: “From a terrific opening line to the final page, chapters zip by at a pulsing pace.” Now Dueñas returns with a novel about a heartbroken woman’s attempt to pick up the pieces of her shattered world.
Blanca Perea is a college professor in Madrid who seems to have it all. But her perfect career and marriage start to unravel when her husband of twenty years suddenly leaves her for another woman. Devastated, Blanca is forced to question the life she once had and how well she truly knows herself. She leaves Madrid for San Francisco, where she becomes entrenched in the history of an enigmatic Spanish writer who died decades earlier. The more Blanca discovers about this man, the more she is enthralled by the ill-fated loves, half truths, and silent ambitions that haunted his life.
With lush, imaginative prose and unforgettable characters, The Heart Has Its Reasons is a journey of the soul that takes listeners from Spain to California, between the thorny past and all-too-real present. It is a story about the thrill of creating one’s life anew.
'The Heart Has Its Reasons' by María Dueñas
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Reading Group Guide
An esteemed college professor in Madrid, Blanca Perea seems to have it all. But her world is suddenly shattered when her husband of twenty years leaves her for another woman. Questioning the life she once had and wondering whether she truly knows herself, Blanca resolves to change her surroundings. She accepts a research grant in California involving an exiled Spanish writer who died decades earlier, and—anxious to leave her own troubled life behind—she is gradually drawn into her subject’s haunted world.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. Why is Blanca driven to leave Madrid, and to do so in such a hurry? What appeals to her about going to a distant and unfamiliar place? Would you have done something similar in her position? Why or why not?
2. Blanca initially takes on organizing Professor Fontana’s work as a way to escape her own problems and doesn’t expect the job to be stimulating or rewarding. What changes her perspective about the project, transforming it from a “simple duty” into a “personal interest” (page 247)? What is the turning point for her?
3. Re-read the speech that Daniel gives at Rebecca’s Thanksgiving dinner. How does it reflect larger themes in the novel, such as forgiveness and moving forward? Why does Blanca leave the holiday gathering feeling more optimistic than she has in a long while?
4. Why did Daniel wait th see more