BookBrowse Reviews Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Random Acts of Heroic Love

by Danny Scheinmann

Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann X
Random Acts of Heroic Love by Danny Scheinmann
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Published:
    Jan 2009, 400 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour
Buy This Book

About this Book



A dramatic portrait of two apparently unconnected epic love stories

After reading Random Acts of Heroic Love, it's easy to understand why it was chosen as a Richard and Judy Book Club pick (Britain's equivalent of an Oprah Book Club pick).  Two intense love stories are told from male viewpoints, each one inspired by events in author Danny Scheinmann's life and family history.  Leo's story (1992) is told in third person and Moritz's story (1918) is a first-person narration.  The stories are told in alternating chapters with two distinct voices, and twine together as the novel seeks answers to difficult questions about love and loss.

The contemporary love story takes place when Leo, age 25, loses Elini, the love of his young life, in a bus crash.  Although Leo was with her, he has no recollection of the event.  However, as his memory returns, he remembers that he insisted on choosing her seat, the only seat on the bus that resulted in a passenger's death.  Now in addition to grief, he deals with guilt. Because he has trouble overcoming his profound grief and guilt, he spends his days wrestling with such elusive matters as bereavement and the nature of love. When he meets Roberto, a scientist, he begins to find comfort in their dialogues and advice.  "He told me that I should consider the universe like a picture. Move one thing and the whole picture changes. Some people call it the cosmic dance."

The second love story is that of Mortiz Daniecki, a World War I survivor who escapes from a POW camp in Siberia. The memory of a young girl, Lotte, and her pre-war kiss motivates him to stay alive so he can find her once again -- so much so that he walks over 3000 miles, a journey of three years from Vladivostok to his hometown of Ulanow, Poland.  This part of the novel is based on the true story of the author's grandfather, Moshe Scheinmann. Leo's story is also somewhat autobiographical, based on a loss in Scheinmann's life. As Scheinmann says on his website, "I enjoy unearthing old stories that have lain dormant for many years and breathing life in to them by telling them to whoever will listen." 

Leo's journal entries, which are placed randomly throughout both stories, comprise a third section of the book.  The journal would make a lovely book unto itself with profound gems of wisdom from noted writers of science and literature, such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Einstein and Pasteur.  In addition, the journal contains beautiful photographs and sketches of animals as well as explanations of their unique mating habits. (See Did You Know Section). Scientific explanations of albatross, crabs and the Emperor Moth mating aren't exactly what one expects in a work of fiction, a novel of love, but by the end of the book this reader was in awe of the way Scheinmann incorporates these elements to demonstrate the connection between all creatures in the universe, animals as well as humans. The connection between the stories and the journal entries is an exploration of the idea that in this universe "all things are one", and as we travel with Leo and Moritz in their love-quests, the journey is not only physical but philosophical. 

A visit to Scheinmann's website reveals his inspirations and motivations, as he remarks, "To tell a love story is one thing, (it's all very nice, been done a million times, never fails) but is it possible to go deeper in to the psyche of the reader and move them far more profoundly?" Using his ideas about oral storytelling and the subconscious, he seeks to engage the rational mind of the reader with discussions of quantum physics and scientific phenomenon, and loosen his or her emotional response to the more elusive concepts of love and loss.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has lost a loved one and struggled to make sense of the "Why?"

Danny Scheinmann graduated in Law from both the London School of Economics and University of Strasbourgh (France). He also obtained a degree in Theatre Studies. His acting career included A Midsummer Nights Dream for the English Shakespeare Company and an 18-month tour with the David Glass Ensemble in the Hansel Gretel Machine.

His greatest passion, however, is story-telling. "I have been passionate about story-telling for 20 years. Storytelling is the foundation of all drama. Sadly, in our culture direct, oral tradition storytelling is almost dead. We hardly have the confidence to tell our children stories without referring to books."

Random Acts of Love is Scheinmann's first novel which took him six years to complete, writing ten drafts and four or five "polishes." He has just completed the first draft of the story for film.

Reviewed by Vy Armour

This review is from the February 5, 2009 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Courting Mr. Lincoln
    Courting Mr. Lincoln
    by Louis Bayard
    19 out of 21 of our First Impression Reviewers rated Louis Bayard's latest novel, Courting Mr. ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Kate Atkinson
    Over her two-decade-plus career, Kate Atkinson has reinvented herself as a writer several times by ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhalation
    by Ted Chiang
    Exhalation is an assemblage of nine short stories and novellas written by Ted Chiang, a computer ...
  • Book Jacket: Disappearing Earth
    Disappearing Earth
    by Julia Phillips
    On the remote peninsula of Kamchatka—tucked away on the far eastern corner of Russia and ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Women Rowing North
    by Mary Pipher

    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Guest Book
    by Sarah Blake

    "An American epic in the truest sense…"
    Entertainment Weekly
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Her Kind of Case
by Jeanne Winer

A highly-recommended emotion-filled legal drama with three starred reviews!

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Miracle Creek

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie...

A thrilling debut novel for fans of Liane Moriarty and Celeste Ng.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

I I T S Form O F

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.