Monique Proulx’s long-awaited novel, The Heart is an Involuntary Muscle (Douglas & McIntyre), is the story of Florence, a web designer leading a safe virtual life. When she finds out that her father’s dying words feature prominently in a book being written by a world-famous novelist, Florence is thrust into the confusing overload of sensory reality. Although the explicit story is the quest for the writer Pierre Laliberte, what truly haunts Florence is her Pepa, the father who never spoke a word to her. The ghost of Pepa, “one hell of a lover” until her birth, claims her mother, lurks at the centre of Florence’s very soul. Beyond the influence of this forbidding father-figure, which is ever-present but never referred to, I wasn’t sure what Proulx was getting at, so I found it less fulfilling than her first two novels, Sex of the Stars and Invisible Man at the Window. However, The Heart is an Involuntary Muscle is a skilled rendering of an array of distinctly different characters and an interesting meditation on the perils of both fame and anonymity.