Ferry’s second novel, Old Heart was sold to Fred Ramey at Unbridled Books by Wendy Strothman of the Strothman Agency and was published in June, 2015. It is a story about risk taking, seeking freedom, and love in its various forms and mutations: young love, old love, new love, failed and broken love, the love of children, of difficult children, of friends, of self and most of all of life.
by Peter Ferry
This review is from Publisher’s Weekly:
Unbridled, $16 (256p) ISBN 978-1-60953-117-1
In this stand-out novel, Ferry (Travel Writing) depicts one man’s post-War War II struggle with love, loss, and personal freedom. Widower Tom Johnson is an 85-year-old retired Midwestern schoolteacher secretly planning to search in Holland for his first love of 60 years ago, a Dutch translator named Sarah van Praag. Prior to being shipped home, Tom and Sarah quarreled and never said goodbye. He returned to America, married and had three children; a disappointing marriage has always left Tom wondering about Sarah and the divergent paths they took. When his children insist on moving him to assisted living, Tom carefully plans his exit for Holland without telling anyone but his trusted granddaughter. Surprises and setbacks challenge Tom as he searches for Sarah; he is forced to fight his children in court for the freedom to remain abroad, and live on his own terms. A lesser writer might muddle the myriad themes and shifting time frames, but Ferry’s superb writing—including a deft treatment of a story within a story—allow all to mesh seamlessly, resulting in a life-affirming novel about love and second chances; the rights, integrity, and freedom of the elderly; and the toll of mistakes and disappointments. Tom counsels himself near the end: “[L]ife is both tragic and beautiful [...] every day is a carefully wrapped present.” (June)
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This review of Old Heart appeared in Shelf Awareness:
Peter Ferry (Travel Writing) crafts a wise and delicate novel of aging, love and autonomy in Old Heart.
Tom Johnson is 85. He has been widowed, and thereby freed from a troubled marriage. His adult children have begun pressuring him to sell the house in Illinois and move into a home, and the death of a son who had Down syndrome has given Tom the opportunity to pursue an old mystery. So Tom runs away, leaving no clues behind save a note for his family: “I am not coming back.” He then travels to the Netherlands to track down a Dutch woman he knew during World War II, with whom he had “invented love.”
The half-hidden narrator of Old Heart is Tom’s granddaughter Nora, a graduate student who had just begun recording the story of Tom’s return from the war and the beginning of his long-lived but unhappy marriage. When Tom makes his escape, Nora is the only one he takes into his confidence, and she relates parts of his story from her perspective. In other chapters, he chronicles his personal history in long letters to Nora.
Old Heart is earnest and occasionally sentimental, but also pensive and eventually enlightened. It is at once a romance, a meditation on the complications of end-of-life independence and the responsibilities of family, and a lovely personal history. In a slim, unassuming read, Ferry opens intriguing questions and introduces his reader to complex and deeply likable characters. The result is delightfully warm and universally appealing. –Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia
Discover: A sweet, tender story of an old man’s search for a long-lost lover and the less elegant realities of aging.