I received this book as a proof to read and review and how very thankful I am that I did. I doubt I would have picked this one up otherwise and thus would have missed out on an intriguing read. It is a sequel to Tamaro’s previous book titled Follow Your Heart in which an elderly Italian woman writes a letter to her granddaughter for her to read after her death. I haven’t read this book but that fact didn’t in anyway detract from my enjoyment or understanding of Listen to my Voice.
In Listen To My Voice we hear the granddaughter, Marta, as she tells her story which is addressed to the memory of her grandmother. Marta went to live and be raised by her grandmother when she was 4 years old. Her gran doesn’t ever tell her about her life before then and thus she knows very little about her parents. Marta believes her father is a Turkish prince and knows that her mother is dead. When Marta’s grandmother dies, she is left alone in the world. After a while she explores the house and discovers a box full of her mother’s belongings in the attic. Marta feels intense anger towards her grandmother for withholding the existence of all these items. The box contains several clues to her past and with the help of her mother’s journal and a faded photograph Marta sets off to track down her father. She feels he may still be alive although she has long since realised he’s not a Turkish prince. Her search takes her to Israel where she finds a member of her mother’s family. She eventually traces her father and makes herself known to him. What follows is unexpected and leads to a very unusual father/daughter relationship.
As Marta went on her trail of self-discovery I found myself seeking the same answers to the questions she was asking, such as why are we here? What purpose do we serve? Can we alter anything for the better? Do we enrich each other’s lives? This is an absorbing read, very philosophical and thought provoking, but also has a melancholy feel to it and at times it pulled me down. It maintains a sense of intrigue throughout though, so I never wanted to stop reading and eagerly devoured each page. Marta seemed to be trudging through a life that was filled with sadness, rejection, joy and regret, without any sense of hope. I came to strongly care about her and truly wanted her to find the answers to her questions. Susanna Tamaro has written a bittersweet, yet heart-warming tale about love, life and the importance of belonging.