HEARTSOUNDS: The Story of a Love and a Death by Martha Weinman Lear
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HEARTSOUNDS: The Story of a Love and a Death

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Don't cry, damn you. He needs you to cry like a hole in the head. Like a hole in the heart."" He is Dr. Harold Lear, Martha Lear's husband, who has just suffered a heart attack; but he is quick to reassure her, ""It will be just like it was."" How it never again was what it was is the burden of her powerful narrative. Married when Martha was a 30-year-old journalist and Hal, a Hartford urologist, was 41, they were on the eve of their 15th wedding anniversary; he had a son and a daughter by an earlier marriage, and she wanted no children of her own. They had recently moved to New York where Dr. Lear, in a midlife career change, had set up a medical-center sexuality program--and then his tensions began to mount, not good for a three-pack-a-day man with a family history of early deaths from heart disease. He survived his first attack, but didn't mend, and a coronary bypass operation was performed to ease his angina pain. During the operation someone forgot to give him an anaesthetic, and he suffered another heart attack, this one leaving him with a degree of brain damage. And so it went, from worse to worse--a nightmare of modern medical technology. One horrific night when he knew he was dying of pulmonary edema, his lungs filling with water, he couldn't get the nurse to wake the intern, nor would his doctors come until their scheduled morning rounds. In the nick of time he was rescued; but despite his tenacious will he continued to weaken until his death in the fall of 1978, five years after the first attack. Martha Lear tells this story with the concentration--and skill--of a reporter covering a major war, and in the process creates two distinct, imperfect human beings and a striking picture of a modern marriage.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1980
Publisher: Simon & Schuster