Eli Goldstone lives in London and is a graduate of the City University Creative Writing (Novels) MA.
WINNER - Betty Trask Award 2018
Seb's beautiful, beloved wife Leda has been killed by a swan. With a name like that, with a bizarre family history like hers, it isn't really surprising. Seb has a grip on her story and its aesthetics; he knows how it should go. Except that he doesn't. Sorting through her belongings after her death, he comes across a packet of unopened letters from a man whom Leda has never mentioned. It is a loose detail in the thread of his narrative that, when pulled, unravels the whole story of his marriage. Who is this stranger who knew her so well? Why did she flee her home village in Latvia? What happened to her as a young woman in London? Who, Seb wonders, was his wife? Floundering professionally and sunk by grief, he decides to travel to Latvia to find her. He is met, instead, with the living ghosts of her past, all of whom knew a fragment of Leda - but none of whom are willing to share their secrets with him. A darkly funny and seductive novel that confronts the black undercurrent of possession inherent in love, and the impossibility of ever truly knowing even those dearest to us, Strange Heart Beating is a breathtaking debut from an author whose vision is both acerbic and tender.
Praise for STRANGE HEART BEATING:
"Overwhelmingly, Strange Heart Beating, with its savage yet comforting undercurrent of a swan as an emblem of the soul reborn, is an ardent examination of loss, framed by multiple cultural allusions. And [...] it is a reminder of the unknowability of those we truly love." Financial Times
"If the Coen Brothers had a sister, she would likely write like Goldstone, her pen dipped in weird black ink, piquant with fantasies and dread delusion." Jewish Chronicle
"an enjoyable trip, wryly amusing and touching, as Seb finds out as much about himself as the woman he loved." Daily Mail
"There are funny moments in this book and sensuous descriptions of green, wolf-filled wildness of the Latvian forest, but it’s also incredibly melancholy. Death and darkness are an inevitable part of life, especially in Eli Goldstone’s world. But she expresses this so beautifully and simply that Strange Heart Beating is a joy to read." Emerald Street
"As a study of grief and a search for closure, Strange Heart Beating touches on many uncomfortable areas, such as the poignant truth that we can never know anybody as well as we think we do, or would like to." Sunday Herald
"...the writing is terrific; the story so skilfully and finely unfolded, full of sly laughs and complex tenderness..." Sara Baume, author of Spill Simmer Falter Wither
"What a beautiful, rare thing Strange Heart Beating is - funny and tender, yes, but so ferocious, sweeping its reader towards wholly devastating realisations" Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies