One Heart

one-heartHarperCollins, 1998

Gladys and Ivy are sisters, reluctant best friends who have depended upon each other through a shared lifetime marked by grief and loss, including the untimely deaths of Gladys’s two children and the end of her passionate yet troubled marriage. While bonded by love and loneliness, the sisters remain divided by a wall of silence and pain that prevents Gladys from accepting the solace Ivy desperately needs to give.

Then one late April day, the pattern of their quiet lives is suddenly ruptured when a dark-eyes young woman with a mysterious past arrives on their doorstep. Quickly befriending Gladys, the intriguing Raelene convinces her to escape on a cross-country jaunt that will become a journey of discovery. Left to contend with the loss of her sister–and a surprise visit from Gladys’s estranged husband–Ivy too will contemplate the frayed tapestry of her life and confront emotions long denied.

For Ivy and Gladys, however, personal transformation has just begun. Eventually reunited, the two must face searing truths about themselves, their past, and their relationship–soulful revelations that will ultimately bring them closer or hopelessly keep them apart.

Rich in character, language, and emotion, One Heart is a powerful, moving tale of family, friendship, forgiveness, and redemption.


“With each change of voice, the reader gets a slightly different insight into the lives of these two sisters, torn between their powerful affection for one another and the desire to break away from someone who knows them just a bit too well. … What “One Heart” does best is explore the stages of grief over the long term, as well as examine the special relationship that sisters share–for better or worse. Fans of Elizabeth Berg and Anne Taylor will take this book and find it compelling. And be glad that Jane McCafferty has joined the ranks of women who write novels for other women.”
– Linda DuVall, Colorado Gazette

“Told in direct, plain-spoken language, Jane McCafferty’s first novel gathers genuine emotional depth and complexity… Despite the seeming ordinariness of its plot, ”One Heart” builds in somber intensity, leading to insights and resolutions that move far beyond the predictable. McCafferty doesn’t take the quick route to cataclysmic resolution, nor does she settle for the often equally facile happy ending. In eschewing the expected, her novel accurately reflects the sometimes meandering and unruly directions our lives take. What matters in the end, she suggests, has less to do with conventional images of happiness than with the deep, close-to-the-bone bonds that actually sustain us.”
Paula Friedman, New York Times Book Review

“This is a story about loss and the pain of love that never seems to reach the right person at the right time, but a strain of dark humor and appreciation for natural beauty keeps it from unrelieved grimness. McCafferty makes us care for her troubled characters, each a fully rounded, complex individual. Her themes are evident, yet always grounded particulars. Strong work from a writer to watch.”
Kirkus Reviews

“McCafferty cleverly uses her four main characters as gypsy storytellers, each one taking a turn at authoring chapters. This makes for an unusual read, but McCafferty succeeds in weaving the overlapping narratives — although at times the read may feel like he is privy to a therapy session. … One Heart is a good selection for someone in search of a story about the power of love and healing. Those who have come to appreciate the self-journey will recognize McCafferty’s ability to relay that emotional voyage.
Jamie Bedrin, Fox News

The wry humor and a supporting cast of endearing eccentrics draw the reader even further into the lives of these brave, wounded people. One Heart has a big heart; highly recommended.
– Beth E. Anderson, Library Journal

“A lovely book, full of surprises, with characters that stay in your heart long after the book has been put down.”
– Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle

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