"THERE YOUR LIFE LIES" is a generational story that seeks to bind the past with the present. As a novel, it is well-written and easily readable. But I found it difficult to make meaningful, emotional connections to Marian Taylor, a 92 year old woman living in 2009 Rhode Island with her granddaughter, Amelia, an especially sensitive 20-something, a recent UCLA graduate living amid the ebb and flow of everyday life.
Marian had kept her past as a secret from her granddaughter, her son (deceased), and daughter-in-law (a successful architect living in Los Angeles). She had grown up in a world of wealth and privilege in a very smug, prejudiced, complacent, and snobbish Irish American Catholic family. Marian never felt a real part of that family, except with the 2 Argentinian servants her family had hired during their sojourn in Argentina and brought back to the U.S. (from them, Marian learned to speak Spanish fluently); Luigi, the family chauffeur; and her brother Johnny, a gifted musician whose homosexuality made him a pariah in the Taylor family. Tragedy ensues and Marian leaves Vassar and goes off to Spain in 1937 to serve as a nurse on the Republican side in the bloody civil war there. Spain comes to represent a complete break for Marian from her family and ultimately her past.
Years later, in Rhode Island, Marian is compelled to come to terms with her mortality and, at the same time, with her past when Amelia one day demands to know about her beloved grandmother's origins. This revelation has long-reaching effects for both of them. In a larger sense, "THERE YOUR HEART LIES" represents a bringing together of the idealism and sacrifices made by the generation that came of age during the Great Depression and the Second World War with the angst-ridden and digitally/technologically conversant present-day millennial generation. A good premise for a novel, yes. But it didn't fully resonate with me. And so, to the neighborhood used bookstore this novel goes.