The Tell-Tale Heart

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 09.26.56Jill Dawson’s eighth novel, The Tell-tale Heart, was published by Sceptre in 2014.


‘Dear Donor Family.
A terrible truth: your good son’s heart is probably wasted on a man like me.’

Patrick, a fifty-year-old professor of American Studies, drinker and womaniser, has been given six months to live. In a rural part of Cambridgeshire, a teenager dies in a motorcycle accident. When his heart is transplanted into Patrick’s chest, two strangers are forever conjoined.

Patrick makes a good recovery, but has the strange feeling that his old life ‘won’t have him’. Discovering that his donor was a local boy named Drew Beamish, he becomes intensely curious about Drew and what shaped him, from the ancestor involved in the Littleport riots of 1816 to the bleak beauty of the Fens. Patrick longs to know the story of his heart.

‘Funny, moving and profound’  
Hello! magazine book of the month

‘Dawson’s immediately engrossing narrative opens in the ICU in the aftermath of the surgery and it is clear that the recipient of Drew’s heart is someone not everyone would consider deserving of a second chance……Dawson navigates this territory with a freshness and wit that belie a seasoned novelist. In 200 short pages, she seamlessly elides political history and neurophysiology with the madness that makes people drive too fast and seduce their students.’
Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

‘In this intriguing and deeply absorbing novel, Jill Dawson weaves together the lives and loves of three vibrant characters to explore fundamental questions about identity, the symbolic meaning of the heart and the possibility of change.

‘As wise as it is witty, Dawson’s skilful storytelling constructs a unique look at how one deals with another life, if given a second chance. Split into seven parts, her prose absorbs the reader into a beautifully crafted novel that will extend many a reading afternoon.’
The Huffington Post (read the full review here)

‘Not since Graham Swift’s ‘Waterland’ has anyone written as passionately about history, education, love and belonging in the Fen region of England. A beautifully crafted novel by an outstanding writer who gracefully enters the heart and soul of all her characters.’
Caryl Phillips

‘Subtle, funny, clever and wise.’
Tim Pears

‘Jill Dawson’s compelling new novel brings together voices from the frontiers of new experience -what’s it like to live with another person’s heart- and from the fierce histories that lie behind that heart. Humorous, rueful, and moving insights combine in a narrative that carries the reader into quite unexpected places.’
Dame Gillian Beer