The Heart is a Burial Ground by Tamara Colchester


The Heart is a Burial GroundTitle: The Heart is a Burial Ground
Author: Tamara Colchester
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: FeminismHistory
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Scribner
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘No time.’

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On a brisk day in 1970, a daughter arrives at her mother’s home to take care of her as she nears the end of her life. ‘Home’ is the sprawling Italian castle of Roccasinibalda, and Diana’s mother is the legendary Caresse Crosby, one half of literature’s most scadalous couple in 1920s Paris and widow of Harry Crosby, the American heir, poet and publisher whose surreal excesses epitomised the ‘Lost Generation’.

But it was not only Harry who was lost. Their incendiary love story concelaed a darkness that marked mercurial Diana and still burns through the generations: Diana’s troubled daughters Elena and Leonie, and Elena’s young children.

Spanning the decades and moving between France, Italy and the Channel Islands, Tamara Colchester’s debut novel is an unfrogettably powerful portrait of a line of extraordinary women, and the inheritance they leave their daughters.


This book isn’t the kind that I normally read. That’s not to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it. But it is certainly a different way to spend a few days. And it was definitely an education. One that I will probably repeat at some point in the future. I get the feeling that this novel is one that will reveal hidden gems with each and every re-reading. And when I’m in a more reflective mood, there are going to be some amazing gems that reveal themselves.

Although this isn’t my typical pace of story, I loved the techniques and the writing used within. Struggling to become captivated because I was too busy running around pursuing studies and dealing with family dramas ironically helped to highlight the strength of some of the themes and storylines throughout this novel. Having a number of storylines flowing throughout and jumping across timelines means that this can be a little more of a convoluted novel than the types I normally read when I have mountains of study. But it also helped to highlight the complex relationships, intricacies, and lingering effects of the past.

I loved the strong ties of mothership and womanhood throughout this tale. The intergenerational tale was a little difficult to follow, especially at first, but it highlighted the complexities that such relationships have. Not only between one generation and the next, but the ones that will follow too. The power of these women not only helps to sculpt the children, but also helps to scar them. The flightiness of one woman creates a more secluded personality in the next. And so on and so forth so that the actions of the past can be felt to reverberate throughout the generations.

I loved the themes of strength, honour and loyalty between the three women. The idea that there is a bond that can’t be broken, even when there is a multitude of bitterness is an interesting reminder of the fact that we can’t choose family. The fact that it runs through the women of a generation, emphasized not only the ties of family, but also the bonds of womanhood. Strong women are often ridiculed, and there are so many ways in which being a strong woman, in any generation, can be difficult. These difficulties not only carved themselves onto the lives of the women who experience them, but also the children that they bring into the world.

I look forward to summer every year (I hate the cold). But I especially look forward to it this year, when I have no study, and I can really sink my teeth into the complexities and intricacies of this amazingly complex tale.

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Image source: Simon & Schuster UK

7 thoughts on “The Heart is a Burial Ground by Tamara Colchester

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