Tracing the complicated friendship of two very different women who meet in college, She Poured Out Her Heart is a novel of remarkable psychological suspense, crafted by National Book Award finalist Jean Thompson.
The night that Jane and Bonnie meet on a college campus sets them on paths forever entwined. Bonnie, the wild and experimental one, always up for anything, has spent the past two decades bouncing between ill-fated relationships, while Jane’s seemingly perfect life, perfect husband, and perfect children have all but materialized out of a fantasy. But these appearances contradict the quiet, inescapable doubt Jane feels about her life. One night, in the middle of her own Christmas party, she steps outside into the snow, removes her clothing and shoes, and lies down in the backyard. When she is discovered, nothing is the same for anyone. As Jane begins to have visions and retreat into a private inner world, Bonnie finds herself drawn inevitably into an affair with Jane’s husband.
Thompson’s mastery of complex emotion begets a novel of desire and the nature of love—who we love, how we’re loved, and, most important, that we reach urgently and always for a higher love, regardless of our circumstances. She Poured Out Her Heart is a finely wrought, haunting story of female friendship and deception, and the distance in between.
National Book Award finalist Thompson (Who Do You Love) illustrates the sometimes-ugly complexities of women's friendships in an account of a decades-long relationship between two very different women. After graduation, college friends Jane and Bonnie quickly settle into the roles they were seemingly born to play: Bonnie becomes a supportive wife to her medical student husband, Eric, and a supermom to their two children, while Bonnie continues her pattern of sleeping with all the wrong men and drinking too much while still excelling professionally. But both of them have secrets: Bonnie longs for the kind of domestic stability Jane (supposedly) has, while Jane dreads sex and welcomes occasional episodes in which her mind goes blank. A particularly troubling mental break for Jane creates new stresses on her marriage and her friendship with Bonnie, leading to further tension. The novel's spiritual overtones offer an unconventional outlook on love and transcendence, but ultimately this too-baggy novel lacks narrative focus, attempting to delve into too many aspects of personal histories and motivations (particularly Bonnie's) while failing to sustain a revenge plot, one that also happens to be hard to believe. Nevertheless, Thompson's many fans will still find moments of clarity and insight in this parallel character study.