WHAT THE HEART KNOWS

Mara Purl

What does your heart know?

Miranda Jones has always used her head. Her artist’s rep and mentors, parents and sister, always advised she must. With her paintings at a major fine art gallery, her journey as a struggling artist is finally paying off. But while her head told her success in a big city was what she wanted, her heart told her a simpler life in a small community would feel like home. Now that she’s moved, deeper questions surface: What is her life purpose? What’s missing? And what does her heart know that her head keeps ignoring?

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What does your heart know?

Miranda Jones has always used her head. Her artist’s rep and mentors, parents and sister, always advised she must. With her paintings at a major fine art gallery, her journey as a struggling artist is finally paying off. But while her head told her success in a big city was what she wanted, her heart told her a simpler life in a small community would feel like home. Now that she’s moved, deeper questions surface: What is her life purpose? What’s missing? And what does her heart know that her head keeps ignoring?

California’s Central Coast is growing explosively. Now, in the mid-1990s, tourism is up, but so are environmental regulations. Housing is on the rise, but so are water restrictions. Gambling is limited, but the Chumash tribe lobbies for a gaming casino. The stock market is booming, the upwardly mobile are pouring out of Los Angeles in search of a fresh start, or a weekend getaway. In these affluent, pre-9-11 days, it’s a time of infinite possibilities.

Milford-Haven is a town full of characters. Escapees from San Francisco and Los Angeles, New York and Arkansas, Montreal and South Africa, have come here with their own hopes and expectations, agendas and shadowed pasts. The stakes are high: create a new life from scratch. The opportunities are dazzling: own a piece of the California dream. It’s a town of buried secrets and a dangerous mystery, quaint shops and breathtaking vistas, peaceful solitude and spontaneous conversations. What draws people here is the sense that—in their heart of hearts—they know there’s something they’ve always wanted to do. And if not now…when?

So look for the sign to Milford-Haven, pull off Highway 1 and stop by. Come discover for yourself . . . What the Heart Knows.

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  • BelleKeep Books
  • Hardcover
  • September 2011
  • 320 Pages
  • 9781936878017

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$22.95

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About Mara Purl

Mara Purl pioneered small-town fiction for women with her popular and critically acclaimed Milford-Haven Novels. Her beloved fictitious town has been delighting audiences since 1992, when it first appeared as Milford-Haven, U.S.A.©—the first American radio drama ever licensed and broadcast by the BBC. The show reached an audience of 4.5 million listeners throughout the U.K.

Early editions of Mara’s novels have won fifteen gold and finalist literary awards including the Benjamin Franklin, the Indie Excellence, the USA Book News Best Book, and the ForeWord Book of the Year. Mara’s other writing credits include plays, screenplays, scripts for Guiding Light, cover stories for Rolling Stone, staff writing with the Financial Times (of London), and the Associated Press. She is the co-author (with Erin Gray) of Act Right.

As an actress, Mara was “Darla Cook” on Days Of Our Lives. She was named one of twelve Women of the Year by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women.

Praise

“In Mara Purl’s books the writing is crisp and clean, the dialogue realis­tic, the scenes well described. I salute her ingenuity.”
—Bob Johnson, Former Managing Editor, The Associated Press

“Mara Purl tells stories from the heart. Don’t miss her Milford-Haven novels.”—Kathy (Mrs. Louis) L’Amour

Discussion Questions

What are the dynamics of Milford-Haven? What is nurturing and sup­portive about a small town? When should privacy take a back seat to “public good”? Do you feel you have an absolute right to privacy?

Is Samantha in crisis? At what point have we encountered her in her life? Why does Samantha keep a journal? What function does journal writing perform in her life? Why do people keep journals? Have you ever kept a journal? What did it do for you?

Is Chris careful or foolhardy? Does she place her job or her personal life first? Was her trip to the Clarke house impetuous or well-calculated? Should a journalist do almost anything to get at the truth?

Would you agree Jack is a “head” person rather than a “heart” person? Do relationships make us more complete? Or do we first establish our completeness, then bring this quality to a relationship? Would you choose a life partner with your head, or with your heart?

Do you believe Miranda “makes” things happen when she paints intu­itively? What makes an artist essentially different from other people? How do you explain synchronicity or coincidence in your life?

What are Zelda’s motives? Do you think she’s benevolent or malevo­lent? Why is Cynthia so calculating at such a young age? Why do some women manipulate every personal and business relationship? Do you think there are times coercion is justified? Have you sometimes used it in your own personal or professional life?

Is Miranda responding to a deep and soulful recognition when she meets Zack? Is she wise in pursuing a relationship with him, or is she treading on dangerous ground? How can you tell whether or not you’ve met the “right” person?

As a former journalist who wrote for the Associated Press, The Finan­cial Times of London, Rolling Stone, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Mainichi Daily News, Mara Purl was trained to do extensive research and to report accurately. How might her journalistic background have influenced her as a novelist?

Why is this book called What The Heart Knows? Does this phrase apply only to Samantha and her journal writing? How might this apply to Miranda’s meeting Zack? Does important information come to you through both head and heart?