Heartwood was Belva Plain's last published novel before she died in 2010. I received the book as a birthday present and thoroughly enjoyed it. Heartwood is the mother/daughter story of Iris Stern and Laura McAllister as Laura navigates marriage, family, and career in the 1970s and 1980s. Of course, Iris has her own demons to deal with as her life transitions from middle age into retirement age as well.
What's fascinating about this story is how both women try to cope with what's going on in their lives. Heartwood is a study of generational shifts and how differently Iris and Laura view marriage, motherhood, and themselves through the transitions presented in the novel.
If you're a writer, you'll want to read Heartwood to study the differing points of view. The author uses each character's point of view at just the right time during the story to advance the plot and give the reader more information about the situation. From Iris's nearly seventy year older husband to tween-aged Katie, Laura's daughter, we are allowed to know what each person is thinking at just the right time in the novel.
The final book of the Werner family saga, Heartwood stands alone as a beautiful story in and of itself. Now I'm going to have to go back and read about Anna Friedman, Iris' mother and Laura's grandmother.
I read Heartwood in just three days last weekend. I started Friday afternoon and almost finished Saturday night. It's a spectacular summer read.