From New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice comes a long-awaited opportunity for readers to discover an acclaimed early novel-one of this cherished storyteller's most powerful and complex portraits of the fragile bonds of family and home.STONE HEARTNomadic archaeologist Maria Dark is returning home again to the Connecticut shore-a magical place where she, her sister Sophie, and their brother Peter spent their childhood on the banks of Bell Stream. After fifteen years away, Maria hopes that she can rediscover the joy and optimism of her youth in the arms of her family. But things have changed. Maria's siblings and her mother have weathered difficult times...and Sophie and her children are not as happy as they seem. Now Maria will embark upon an emotional journey-navigating the memories of a tender past-toward the truth at the heart of her family and the chance for a new beginning.
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March 28, 2005
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Excerpt from Stone Heart by Luanne Rice
Maria Dark flew north, from one America to the other, with a bag of treasures between her feet. The man beside her spoke Spanish into a cassette recorder. He seemed hardly to notice the lightning at their wings. The plane lurched, then continued to glide; orange strobes reflected on the clouds that surrounded them. A flight attendant cruised the aisle, checking seatbelts.
"What time will we land " Maria asked her.
"We're in a holding pattern over Philadelphia," the woman said. "This storm is turning to snow in New York."
"You mean we might land here " Maria asked.
Lightning split the sky, and for one instant Maria wished to be on the ground anywhere: Philadelphia, Miami, Machu Picchu. Then she thought of Sophie and Nell, waiting at JFK, ready to drive her home to Hatuquitit; almost absently Maria reached into her bag for a talisman to guide the plane safely north. Her hand closed around the gold goddess she planned to give Sophie. She felt like the mysterious stranger going home, bringing storms with her.
"Pretty," said the man beside her, admiring the small statue. "Is it Incan "
"No, she's Chav ' n," Maria said. During their excavation at Chav ' n de Huentar, she and Aldo had found several statues like her, and Maria, thinking of a present for Sophie, had commissioned a local goldsmith to copy one.
"That belongs in the national museum," the man said reproachfully.
"She's a replica. A present for my sister," Maria said. Aldo had taught her that foreign archaeologists were always suspected of trying to remove antiquities.
"That's too good for a present," the man said. He flinched at a crack of thunder, then resumed recording.
Maria figured he thought she'd robbed a grave. She'd have to tell Sophie about it; it would add to Sophie's pleasure in the goddess. Sophie would want details: the fact that the man wore thick glasses and had hairy nostrils, the fact that he began every other recorded sentence with "And furthermore." From his litany, Maria pegged him as a low-level lawyer for the local government.
Sophie and Nell would be at the airport by now. Just before leaving the mountain, Maria had called Sophie; the connection had been terrible, full of static, but Maria thought Sophie had said she and Nell would come alone. Like the old days, Maria thought. Before Maria married Aldo, before Sophie married Gordon and had Simon and Flo, before Nell married Peter and became their sister-in-law and Andy's mother instead of just their best friend.
The plane had been veering right, circling for forty minutes, but suddenly Maria sensed it change course. Heading for home, she thought she could smell north. She opened the hand clutching the statue for one quick look. The goddess was fine and slender, nearly as beautiful as Sophie.
For one moment Maria wondered whether Hallie would meet her at the airport. Of course she would not. Sophie had a ringleader's knack for setting a scene, assembling a party. Sophie would know that their mother had no place at this homecoming. Hallie wouldn't think it seemly to stage a big welcome for a daughter who had left her husband to his glamorous dig, to Chav ' n mysteries, to the thin mountain air, who had left him to all those things forever--and for what