Classical violinist Anna Sun is burnt out. She reached the pinnacle of viral success with a YouTube video, and she has driven herself crazy trying to replicate it. And now, her long-term boyfriend announces that he wants an open relationship.
That’s where we begin with Helen Hoang’s latest novel, The Heart Principle, which my friends at Allen & Unwin were kind enough to send me for review.
You’ll be delighted to hear, true to form for Hoang’s characters, Anna responds to this turn of events in a very healthy way: by setting out to have as much inappropriate sex as possible.
Yes, this has all the hallmarks of a Hoang classic: a diverse cast of characters and a lot of no-holds-barred open-door lust. It’s a little unrealistic (the first bloke that Anna matches with on Tinder is the winner – really?), but all the best romance novels are.
What puts The Heart Principle a head above Hoang’s earlier novels (like The Kiss Quotient) is the dark turn the story takes at the end of Part One; Anna receives a devastating phone call that changes everything. It made for an all-too-real jarring contrast between sex and sadness.
Luckily, the story speeds towards an ending that is both hopeful and happy, with a vital and timely message about caring for the caregivers.
I loved it, even more than I thought I would.