The Heart Has Its Reasons
A talented 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 whether she truly knows herself, Blanca resolves to change her surroundings. She accepts what looks like a boring research grant in California involving an exiled Spanish writer who died decades ago. Anxious to leave her own troubled life behind, she is gradually drawn into his haunted world, with its poignant loves and unfulfilled ambitions.
But in delving into the past, Blanca finds herself simultaneously awakened to the present by Daniel Carter, a charismatic professor with crucial knowledge about the dead writer that he has never before revealed. Amid this web of passion, conflict, and hidden feelings, including her own, Blanca advances like an avid detective, refusing to quit, and ultimately discovers startling answers that resonate deeply in her own life.
Evocative, lyrical, and humorous, The Heart Has Its Reasons is a journey of the soul from the pangs of the past to the vibrant 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