Books by Lane von Herzen

THE UNFASTENED HEART by Lane von Herzen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Nov. 15, 1994

This light but charming follow-up to Copper Crown (1991) is the whimsical story of a Southern California healer, her female clients, and their effect on her angelic daughter's first love affair. It took the love of a lifetime to transform Ann McCafferty, a Protestant counselor living in the California suburb of Marbury Park, into Anna de la Senda, a psychic healer whose house is filled with painted icons and chirping birds and whose circle of clients, the Lovelorn Women, drop in once a week for tea and sympathy. Anna's beloved husband, a house painter named Cristobal, converted her to Catholicism and also taught her to appreciate the mystical- -before bolting back to his first family in Mexico. Since then her life has focused on their ethereal daughter, Mariela, who is now 18 and in love herself for the first time. Anna is not pleased to learn that the object of Mariela's passion is Addison Ettinger, son of the rich, arrogant, recently widowed doctor next door; she foresees that the unequal liaison will bring sorrow to her daughter. When Dr. Ettinger asks Anna to counsel him in his grief, however, the healer soon finds herself falling in love with her patient, and it is all she can do to reject him when her prophecy comes true. Soon after Addison escapes to a writer's colony in New Mexico, Mariela learns she's pregnant. Anna suffers while her daughter grieves and eventually loses the baby. Life seems to be turning out tragically for all concerned until the Lovelorn Women come to the rescue—retrieving Addison from his hideaway, giggling and chattering among themselves while they wait for the de la Senda women and their lovers to reunite. An endearing tale, though von Herzen's characters are, for the most part, familiar members of the magical realism roster. (Literary Guild selection) Read full book review >
COPPER CROWN by Lane von Herzen
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 16, 1991

First-novelist von Herzen's tale of an interracial friendship in early-20th-century rural Texas is based, in part, on oral history from the author's own forebears; and, indeed, there is a hearthside, grandmotherly, yarn-spinning rhythm to the telling of this story of tragedy and hardship, courage and love—all given a cosmic weight with ghosts slipping in and out. In Copper Crown, the color barrier was strong, the treatment of blacks by (poor) whites in general nakedly cruel. White Cassie and black Allie had to talk ``girl'' things in secret. Cassie, an ``almost bride'' at 15, had seen Murray, her husband-to-be, run off with cousin Lily Mark. But Murray and Lily Mark would leave Cassie a legacy—a fine horse and then, when doomed Lily Mark returned, the baby Ruby. It's with the horse and Ruby that Cassie and Allie finally leave the hell Copper Crown turned out to be—away from Cassie's sister's grave, Allie's dead brother, and the rows of innocent hanged black men. Eventually, the two will find work and home (of a kind) with brutal, stupid Mr. Skeet, owner of a ``dining house.'' Days are thin and hard, but with the friendship of a Mexican hired hand, they plant trees secretly, raise Ruby, save pennies. (Later, the dead Lily Mark appears, electric blue, from time to time, checking up on her child.) Finally, through chance and grim luck, the women own the restaurant. But then Warren, Allie's big husband, steps between them. Warren dislikes Cassie ``for her kind''; she dislikes him for ``seeing kinds instead of persons.'' There's a vicious killing, as well as the presumed end of a lifelong friendship, but at the close, hosts of the living and the dead—and soon-to-be dead—have a party. In a murmurous, intimate idiom, a moving tale of strength in terrible times, and a wise understanding of the power of ``person''-hood as opposed to ``kind''-hood. Read full book review >