Apart from Love contains two threads, volume I and II of Still Life with Memories, woven together (along with two new chapters) around the same events in 1980, when Ben returns to meet his father, Lenny, and his new wife, Anita. It is then that he discovers a family secret.
My Own Voice (volume I of Still Life with Memories): Ten years ago, when she was seventeen, Anita started an affair with Lenny, in spite of knowing that he was a married man. Now married to him and carrying his child, she finds herself condemned to compete with Natasha's shadow, the memory of her brilliance back in her prime, before she succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer's. Despite Anita's lack of education, her rough slang, and what happened to her in the past, Lenny tries to transform her. He wants her to become Natasha. Faced with his compelling wish, and the way he writes her as a character in his book, how can Anita find a voice of her own? And when his estranged son, Ben, comes back and lives in the same small apartment, can she keep the balance between the two men, whose desire for her is marred by guilt and blame?
The White Piano (volume II of Still Life with Memories): Coming back to his childhood home after years of absence, Ben is unprepared for the secret, which is now revealed to him: his mother, Natasha, who used to be a brilliant pianist, is losing herself to early-onset Alzheimer's, which turns the way her mind works into a riddle. His father has remarried, and his new wife, Anita, looks remarkably similar to Natasha, only much younger. In this state of being isolated, being apart from love, how will Ben react when it is so tempting to resort to blame and guilt? "In our family, forgiveness is something you pray for, something you yearn to receive—but so seldom do you give it to others." What emerges in this family is a struggle, a desperate, daring struggle to find a path out of conflicts, out of isolation, from guilt to forgiveness.
©2012 Uvi Poznansky (P)2013 Uvi Poznansky
I already have, several times actually. This book is totally out of my usual genre (mysteries/thrillers) and probably falls most squarely in the literary fiction category, but I was completely blown away by its beauty and pathos. The quality of the writing is absolutely top notch, and when that is coupled with two supremely talented narrators, the combination is riveting.
I loved the current tense in which the vignettes were told, alternating between Anita and Ben, and the immediacy of the sensations one experiences when listening. The voices are so authentic, the dialog just perfect. I am so in awe of David Kudler's ability to interpret the written word. He is astoundingly good. And Heather Jane Hogan is equally as talented - her Southern accent was impeccable! I've become instant fans of both narrators.
That's really tough, because I loved Anita, Ben, Lenny, and the three aunts. But I guess if I was forced to choose, I'd pick Anita. She was so honest and real, no pretenses. She'd been through so much. My heart broke for her in many scenes.
So many moments... but I think one of the most moving was when Ben went to visit his mother in the nursing home. So sad, so heartfelt...
I really loved this book, and I think it should win lots of literary fiction awards. It's just so powerful. But I didn't like the ending! Too much was left open, and I didn't get that warm, fuzzy feeling I crave. (Okay, so I'm a happy ending kind of guy). I think it could have ended shortly after Ben was kicked out of the house - this might have been a good point if there was not to be a happy ending! Aside from being disappointed that I didn't get to see the characters living happily at the end of the story, this book, its amazing narrators, and the beautiful scenes will stay with me for many years to come.
Full of Surprises
I had already read Apart From Love before listening to the audio version and I had previously found myself amazed by the author's brilliant story telling when I read it. With the audio book, it may have seemed clearer that they were recording themselves but it is hard to say since I had read the book already. Anita and Ben jumped out at you with their quirky personalities shining through their voices.
The show of emotion was wonderful for both Kudler and Hogan.
Ben and Anita are the most memorable characters in this complex story.
I'll listen to Apart from Love again because I so enjoyed the interplay between Heather Jane Hogan and David Kudler, the two narrators.
Ben was my favorite character. David Kudler brings Ben to life with sensitivity and grace, subsuming his narration in the story and letting the character come forth. Ben's story is at times heart-rending, and would be easily over done but a narrator of lesser skill.
The combination of Kudler's Ben and Hogan's Anita makes the tension of the book crackle with life; Anita's southern accent and Ben's underlying musicality (even to sometimes singing his lines), are unique to the narrators' interpretation of this sometimes tragic story.
Definitely Ben, for his view of life as a melody with white keys and black.
A deep and complex tale, well worth hearing more than once.
The different levels in the story: mythological, philosophical, and romantic.
The three aunts—the Fates—snipping and knitting, moving amongst the lives of the main characters. Also, there is the basic story of the love triangle of Ben, his father Lenny, and Anita (the young wife who is replacing Ben’s mother) that is reminiscent of Oedipus Rex: kill the father and marry the stepmother. Because of these parallels, I see this as a potential Greek tragedy that may have been written in ancient times.
No, but I enjoyed their performances and would certainly look for additional audibles featuring them.
Anita. Despite being uneducated, poor and seemingly a home wrecker, she shows--surprisingly--much wisdom. She is fiercely protective of her unborn child and the reader/listener will have no doubt that Anita will be a superior mother.
The best part of a Poznansky book? The poetic prose, her seductive words, that make each book well worth listening to or reading.
Apart from Love, is only the second time that I have listened to an audio book. I have heard several people say what a wonderful experience it is to do so and now I can see the benefits for myself.
Both David Kudler and Heather Jane Hogan bring the characters of Ben and Anita to life. Their voices, with the appropriate amounts of sadness, enthusiasm, voice intonations, soft or loud etc. depending on the situation, definitely add to this audio experience.
Anita...I would like to sit across the table from her to get a better picture of how such a young woman...the same age as Lenny's son Ben...could end up with such an older man for a husband.
Author Uvi Poznansky is an artist! There is no doubt about it. As I read "Apart from Love", I was drawn into a masterfully created piece of artwork. This is no ordinary novel. It richly depicts the product of a dysfunctional family and how they are drawn together, yet so repulsed by each other.
There is a quality so deep and raw in "Apart from Love" that it's almost impossible to put this book down. In my opinion, Uvi Poznansky writes like a painter. She starts with a clean canvas and dabs a little paint here and a little paint there as she develops her characters and creates her masterpiece. Her strokes then become broader, more passionate, more vivid and vibrant as she continues to let her characters' stories unfold. She draws you in to a deeper level than you might actually want to go as she ignites the fire to your own love, passions, and fears.
Ben, the 27 year old son grudgingly returns home many years after the divorce of his parents, Lenny and Natasha. He finds that there is a mutual attraction between his father's young wife Anita, and himself. Their stories, along with Lenny's are related in a narrative as each person has the opportunity to share his side of the events that take place. "Apart from Love" reminds me of a movie I enjoyed many years ago...Cat on a Hot Tin Roof because it is a well-written drama that could take place on a stage similar to this movie. In "Apart from Love" Ben states..."In our family, forgiveness is something you pray for, something you yearn to receive but so seldom do you give to others." There is definitely a great need for forgiveness both on the giving end as well as the receiving end in this novel.Similar to any other work of art, the artist leaves so much of themselves in their work. Author Uvi Poznansky has done just that! Kudos to her on a job well done!
Inspirational Author & Book Reviewer ~ Dolores Ayotte
Uvi Poznansky explores the intricate and complex world of love in ‘Apart From Love’. Very well written and engaging throughout, this novel does, as so many have indicated, reveal the multiple truths behind a dysfunctional family. This author has a real gift for getting right inside her characters' heads. I found her words possessed a special kind of tenderness. Uvi's style is like beautiful poetry. I have never read a book like this. It really stayed interesting till the very last page. The author has great talent and a true master of her craft. Highly recommend the audio
Here is the review I did on the book after I read it.
Literary fiction at it's best.
This is not an easy read, nor a fast one. The reader is immersed in the life and love of a complicated family. The plot is complicated. The theme is one of perspective and in this lies part of the beauty of this novel. The readers perception is formed from multiple point of views. As soon as one perception is formed another take on the reality that is displayed is introduced.
The above is nice extra topping on literally poetry in motion. The authors ability to economically use words in a fluid descriptive manner is akin to see a master painter start a work of genius on a blank canvas. By the end of the process the observer is left stunned and awed.
I know this for this is the effect this book had on me. With almost every known emotion exploited and turned topsy- turvy, I stand in awe.
Now on to the narrators, David Kudler as Ben and Bens' dad did a masterful job in bringing to the fore, for me, what a pathetic man Ben really is. At 27 he never had a job. He blames his folks for everything. He drifts around like a hobo and assumes it is his right that his father keeps looking after him for he is his son.
Anita came to life with Heather Jane Hogan. She may not be well educated or even brought up well but she has smarts. The real type, the deep type that gives her insight into the human state of being that is actually kind of chilling. The two narrators added so much to the story, amplified it. Made it sharper, made the contrasts that more deep. I absolutely adored this book after I was a bit hesitant to start on it since I could still recall the book pretty well after reading it not that long ago. Absolutely amazing. A must listen.
A famous poet, translator, and philosopher Samuil Marshak once said that frequent use of highly emotional words robs them of their meaning, making them dull and lackluster, like an old coin losing its shine. And that's exactly what Anita, the young wife of Ben's aging father, says to her husband in the story: “Just say something to me. Anything." And I thought, Any other word apart from Love, `cause that word is diluted, and no one knows what it really means, anyway.
Coming from uneducated Anita, who is a far cry from being a poet or a philosopher, this thought acquires an even more poignant and raw meaning. She is not trying to impress anyone, she is speaking her heart and her mind, trying to cope with the turmoil of her aging husband's fast decline and her growing attraction for his adult son Ben.
Emotions run high in this story by Uvi Poznansky, made even more prominent by the alternating voices in the audio version. Heather Jane Hogan is wonderful as Anita: she comes across as open and unpretentious, just like Anita’s character is supposed to be. David Kudler, as Ben, is more eloquent and sophisticated not only in his words but in his tone of voice that comes across in the audiobook. I sensed a tone of subtle surprise in his tone as he finds himself falling for Anita, through guilt and internal struggle.
A beautifully-written and perfectly narrated book. Highly recommended.
The pacing: it is very slow. And the characters lack significant growth over a 10-12 year plotline.
Anita's storyline was the most interesting. Ben and Lenny were stagnant - once their characters were established, nothing much changed with them. The same issues were rehashed again and again.
I have listened to one other Heather Jane Hogan performance. I liked her performance in Twisted by Uvi Poznansky better.
There was one scene that left me wanting ice cream.
This book was well written with plenty of thought put into the plights of the characters, carefully mapping out how each responds to the emotional situations they find themselves in, considering each person’s needs and desires. With that said, this wasn’t the book for me. I found the pacing of the story extremely slow (and for someone who adores Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, the pacing must be pretty slow). Also, I saw very little character growth for any of the characters from the time Anita comes into their lives fastforwarded 10 years to the wedding of Lenny and Anita. Ben went off to college, to Europe and comes back at age 27. Didn’t he have adventures? Romances? Heartbreak? But he appears to be the same as he was at age 17 when Anita first came into his life. Also, Anita seems to have very little growth. While I found her story line the most interesting, I was left feeling that all she did for 10 years was watch questionable TV and keep Lenny happy in bed. I think if the storyline was compressed over a 3-4 year span, this lack of character growth wouldn’t have bugged me as it did.
With that criticism, if you have an interest in child-parent relations when there is a divorce and a new, younger significant other takes the place of one parent, then this book might be of great interest to you. There was also that side tragedy of Natasha’s illness (which Lenny managed to hide from Ben for 10-12 years). I definitely understood Ben’s mix of emotions when he finally found out – deep sadness, betrayal (why didn’t his dad trust him with this news much earlier?). If you read the blurb on Goodreads for this book, you will see that a tape recorder with the recorded innermost thoughts of the main characters plays a key role in the story. However, this tape recorder doesn’t really come into play until the reader is perhaps 75% of the way through the book. So, it’s significance seemed rather minor to me, as compared the Natasha’s piano.
While this book was not the book for me, I am not turned off of Uvi Poznansky’s works and will look forward to checking out further works from her. Her care in plotting and setting up characters was evident in this book, even if the subject didn’t move me.
The Narration: Heather Jane Hogan and David Kudler did a decent job of narrating the story. Heather’s voice for Anita was especially good since she had the most emotional outbursts. David gave Ben an agonized voice for when he finally reunites with his ill mother and he filled Ben’s voice with longing when Ben was thinking of Anita.
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