When historian Lizzie Manning is invited to Britain to study the Hatton family's history in their ancestral home, she can have no idea where her research will take her. Before long she finds herself traveling backward in time, from the eighteenth-century voyage of Captain Cook to the Crusades of the thirteenth century. She digs into the Medieval past using all the tools of the historian's trade: shipboard logbooks, correspondence, ethnographic artifacts, artworks, the Hatton family home, the surrounding landscape, and the crypts in several churches. Her findings lead her into three interrelated mysteries, her own family’s history, and a search for a Crusader’s disembodied heart.
Reviews for The Wandering Heart
Maritime historian Malloy (Devil on the Deep Blue Sea) makes an impressive fiction debut with this first installment of a planned trilogy. Elizabeth "Lizzie" Manning, a history professor on winter break from St. Patrick's College in Charlestown, Mass., is intrigued when George F.R. Hatton, a British aristocrat, asks for her advice on family artifacts. George's ancestor, Lt. Francis Hatton, collected the pieces when he accompanied Capt. James Cook on his third voyage to the Pacific Ocean. Lizzie soon discovers more than just a treasure trove at George's Somerset estate: there's also a family "curse" of once-a-century suicides of all the Elizabeth Hattons, with Bette, George's mentally ill sister, the only survivor. Through her research, Lizzie learns that she might be a Hatton relation and suffers eerie "flashbacks" and fears that she might be the next victim. Malloy mixes history and fantasy with flair (one of the not-so-doomed Elizabeths had an affair with pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti) and delivers a wonderfully satisfying puzzler.
In this debut novel, Mary Malloy illuminates the fact the history is not only replete with answers, but with questions as well. Lizzie Manning couldn't be more excited when she receives an invitation to visit the home of George Hatton who is a descendent of Lieutenant Francis Hatton, an officer in the British Royal Navy. Being a professor of history who specializes in the voyages of Captain Cook, this invitation to leave Massachusetts for a month and visit the sprawling English estate of Hengemont to view artifacts and an unpublished account of Francis Hatton's maritime excursion with Captain Cook provides the perfect opportunity for Lizzie to indulge her passion for naval history as well as help her career.
As charmed as she is by the idyllic setting of and George's hospitality, Lizzie finds herself discovering a nested doll of questions that open mysteries within mysteries of the Hatton family. ... Throughout the book, Malloy's use of medieval tales, the Knights Templar history, ancient artifacts, and naval history deftly guide the reader deeper into the character and her motivations. As she solves one mystery, another one looms larger and more terrifying, eradicating any chance of reprieve from the tension. This novel itself reads like a seafaring voyage--full of swift turns, unknown frontiers and the desire to answer the big questions we all ask ourselves. (April) Monica Carter
“A lost journal from Captain Cook's ill-fated journey to the Pacific Northwest. A young woman's fatal leap from a stone turret. A love poem scribbled on a scrap of ancient vellum. And of course an intrepid historical sleuth, Professor Lizzie Manning, who discovers a few long-lost secrets of her own. In the tradition of A. S. Byatt's Possession, Mary Malloy's debut novel is a complex and masterfully woven tale that will keep readers up far into the night.”
—Caroline Preston, author of The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt, Jackie by Josie and Gatsby's Girl
“An absorbing, intricate plot, brought together masterfully at the end... A domestic gothic, not unlike Wilkie Collins' Women in White or Hawthorne's House of the Seven Gables.”
—Barton St. Armand, Ph.D., author of Emily Dickinson and Her Culture and The Roots of Horror in the Fiction of H.P. Lovecraft.