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Extended Audio Sample Heartwood: A Novel Audiobook, by Belva Plain Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (615 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Belva Plain Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Werner Family Saga Release Date: February 2011 ISBN: 9780307876188
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Few authors have understood the tender intricacies of relationships better than the incomparable Belva Plain. For three decades her deeply moving epics have captivated the hearts and imaginations of readers everywhere. Now, in her final novel, she comes full circle with the themes she took up in her very first work, Evergreen, bringing us this unforgettable story of family and friendship, love and marriage, the challenges of life and the true secret of happiness.

Though Iris Stern considers herself a modern woman, with a successful academic career and a happy marriage, she still holds steadfast to her old-fashioned sensibilities. But as the mother of three adult children, each with their own lives and burdens to bear, she often finds those sensibilities called into question when confronted with the choices her children have made.

For one of Iris’s daughters, it’s the choice of a fresh start in New York City—and a last chance to save her troubled marriage. While Laura and Robbie cope with an impending separation and its effect on Iris’s young granddaughter, Iris herself must come to grips with the discovery of a long-held family secret. But it’s an emotional parting of another kind that looms most prominently on Iris’s horizon—as neither her beloved husband, nor the solidity of her own marriage, is immune to the ravages of time.

Through separations and reunions, the changes we cannot avoid and the love that sustains, Iris will weather whatever lies ahead with a faith that cannot be shaken. Like the inmost rings of a tree that abide through the generations, she will be as strong as heartwood.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Vintage Plain, as she again affectingly celebrates a family’s resilience and love.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “A fitting last tribute to a beloved writer who touched so many readers. Plain will be dearly missed, but her books will allow her memory to live on forever.”

    Ventura County Star

  • A USA Today Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 2/20/2014

    " Heartwood is a good book, average and typical of Belva Plain, but not quite as endearing as some of her earlier works. For the first 1/3 of the book, I was wondering if I would find a single character to like. Most of the characters were somewhat flat in the beginning, neither to be hated nor loved. The story line, in a nutshell, is one of old-fashioned, traditional values meeting the 20th century. Iris is a matriarch who despairs that her children are reaching tentacles into territory she finds alien, such as divorce, infidelity, and career women. I did enjoy the book and would recommend it, however there are others I wold recommend more highly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paula | 2/20/2014

    " Excellent!! If you like Belva you will LOVE Heartwood! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renee | 2/19/2014

    " After I got into this book I really liked it! I wouldn't say it wasn't one that I couldn't put down, but I can say I was anxious to find out what was going to happen to the characters. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rebecca Jackson | 2/13/2014

    " Excellent book - excellent author. Haven't read one of her books in quite awhile. This kept my interest all the way through and by the end I didn't want it to end. Compelling family drama and very contemporary. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sadie | 2/10/2014

    " I have always enjoyed her books. We will miss her writing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie Maskus | 2/3/2014

    " I have not read Belva Plain for decades, and I thoroughly enjoyed Heartwood, her final book. This is a story of a Jewish family centering on the women. Most of the story focuses on Laura and her quest to find herself. Iris, Laura's mother, must also learn many of life's lessons and know that love exists in many forms. The male characters in the book are undeveloped. Laura's husband seems like a weak, self-centered boy. His own mother admits Robbie's shortcomings. Theo, the patriarch, needed more detail. But in essence, the story highlights the many trials and joys that each family encounters. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nancy F | 1/31/2014

    " This is Belva Plain's last book, published after her death in 2010. I have enjoyed all of her books. The story explores the gradual dissolution of a marriage and a complicated mother/daughter relationship. The book is a quick read with a predictable ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Penny | 1/20/2014

    " Low 3. This is an author that got me started on reading family sagas years and years ago so I wanted to read her final book. After writing so many books, her plots do get somewhat predictable. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Colleen | 1/19/2014

    " This was my soap opera/beach book for the summer. It kept me entertained while I sewed and washed windows but was pretty shallow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 12/30/2013

    " I loved all of Belva Plain's novels. When I recently chose to read "Heartwood" I did not realize it was her final book. (The author passed away in Oct/2010 at the wondrous age of 95.) I plan to revisit the novel Evergreen, her first, and the one from which "Heartwood" characters were based upon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Toby | 12/7/2013

    " I love her books. This one points out we should never judge other people because something may come up in our own lives that will put a different take on them. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lucille | 12/5/2013

    " Have read all of Belva Plain's novels beginning with Evergreen....She definitely came full circle with Heartwood. She will definitely be missed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jo | 5/14/2013

    " Quick read but fit the bill after plowiong through Cutting for Stone and Fall of Giants. Light and enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Debbie | 5/9/2013

    " Love everything by Belva Plain, especially her books that incorporate characters and families from previous books. I feel like I actually know them. Too bad she passed away a year or two ago. Will just have to go back and reread all of her books instead. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marcie | 3/17/2013

    " Enjoyable. I have always like her books, and now this is her last as she passed away in 2010. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 2/3/2013

    " Belva Plain is a great writer, but she has definitely written better books. I am sad that this is her last book because she passed away. I kind of wonder if the story could have been improved if she had had more time to edit it... I noticed a lot of mistakes and things that didn't really make sense. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ellen | 12/10/2012

    " I remember now how much I liked Evergreen. I really wasn't interested in reading this book but my friend wanted me to read it. I am glad I did. I enjoyed the story of "Anna's" descendants and how her secret was revealed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane Macaluso | 5/17/2012

    " I have enjoyed all of Belva Plain's books, so far, and this is no exception. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 big hiker 2 | 4/1/2012

    " Cute and heartwarming. A little boring, too. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Janet | 6/10/2011

    " I just didn't like it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penelope | 3/3/2011

    " Not too bad a book, enjoyable to read but without any real surprises. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 1/11/2011

    " The first quarter of this book was pretty predictable--but then the signature Belva Plain twists and turns emerge to make another good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 7/31/2010

    " I Loved this book and will now reach out to more of Belva Plain's other novels. There were some unexpected turns in the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kelly | 7/3/2010

    " This was okay. Plain's later books never have the magic (for me) that her earlier ones do. Evergreen had characters that were layered and rich -- this book's characters were kind of flat. Does anyone really have sympathy for Robby? No, because he'd written as an unlikeable jerk. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 jeffrey | 6/28/2010

    " Overwrought story, with the fully expected deus ex machina saving the character Laura from having to make a painful decision. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 5/16/2010

    " A doctor's life, covering about 50 years -- his family, the women he married, the children, his colleagues, his patients -- in the end, I think it was a sad read -- it was well written but I feel slightly depressed. I'm not sure about ever re-reading it.


    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mariebell | 10/9/2008

    " Maybe the person you deraming of spending the rest of your life with is not destined to be with you, and you must learn to love the and accept the person destiny has chosen for you. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sondang | 8/14/2007

    " Usual theme, similar problems, well maybe I just thought that there's nothing special with how the writer wrote the story. "

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About the Author
Author Belva Plain

Belva Plain (1915–2010) was the author of more than a dozen bestselling novels with both period and contemporary settings and themes.

About the Narrator

Karen White is a classically trained actress who has been recording audiobooks since 1999. An Audie Award finalist, she has earned eight AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her reading of The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed was named one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2009.