A Fist Around the Heart

A Fist Around the Heart


By Heather Chisvin


Two sisters are forever impacted by the events of their childhood in Russia.

The story of Anna Grieve and her fragile older sister, Esther, begins in Russia in the 1880s. The vicious persecution of Jews has come to such a point that the girls’ mother makes the decision to send her children to Winnipeg with her wealthy employers. Her intention is to join them, but the sisters never see their mother again. Frightened and cut adrift, each girl reacts differently to her new family in North America. Esther’s beauty and glamorous lifestyle hide the fact that she may be losing herself to mental illness. Anna, who is the only one who knows that her sister is suffering, spends her life torn between taking care of her and escaping her. As soon as she can, Anna leaves for New York and makes a new life as a women’s rights activist with an illegal contraceptive business in Manhattan, but her bond with Esther never loses its grip. 

When Anna receives the unexpected news of Esther’s possible suicide on “If Day”, an unusual day in WWII history when a simulated Nazi attack took place in Winnipeg in order to raise funds for the war effort, she immediately returns to Canada. Only she can piece together what really happened all those years ago in Russia, why their mother never came for them, and what role “If Day” might have played in Esther’s untimely death.

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About the Author

Heather Chisvin is a former newspaper and magazine journalist, a radio and television documentary producer, an advertising copywriter, and a teacher at the Ontario College of Art and Design. This is her first work of fiction. She lives in Port Hope, Ontario.

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Product Information

  • Release: April 10, 2018

  • $19.95 Paperback

  • 320 Pages

  • 5.5 x 8.5

  • Adult Fiction

  • ISBN: 9781772600650

Praise for A Fist Around the Heart

"A compelling and powerful tale permeated with a longing for what can never be. Chisvin's beautifully realized characters, the independent Anna and her fragile sister Esther, reflect not only the vulnerability of the human condition but also its tenacity." - Linda Hutsell-Manning, author of That Summer in Franklin

"An illuminating look at family ties and the reverberating effects of European violence against Jews before World War II." - Carlyn Zwarenstein, author of Opium Eater: The New Confessions

"Masterful in its bleak, wintry landscapes, measured pacing, and unspoken rifts between a Russia that no longer exists and a new world that for Esther never entirely paves over a violent past, Chisvin’s work strikes deep chords and captures the pain of caring for someone who is slipping away.... A Fist Around the Heart is a dark psychological gem." - Foreword Reviews

"[A Fist Around the Heart] commendably combines the sleuthing of a mystery novel and the sweep of a historian's horizon with an outpouring of hope for a better society." - The Canadian Jewish News