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The Next Queen of Heaven: A Novel Paperback – October 5, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; Reprint edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006199779X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061997792
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Maguire, author of the popular Wicked series of novels, which gives imaginative backstory to the events taking place in The Wizard of Oz, brings his creative storytelling from the realm of fantasy to the world of reality—but just barely. Quickly but delightfully read, Maguire’s new novel has as its canvas the entire little town of Thebes in Upstate New York. His natural compassion for people’s quirks gives his razor-sharp satire on small-town life a comfortable bed on which to rest. Maguire looks backward in time, to the advent of the new millennium in 2000. His theme is that, at this significant historical moment, town characters, including the church-lady Leontina Scale and her profanity-spewing daughter and the gay choir director, now face having their personal choices being called into question but eventually seeing the disparate pieces of their lives reconciled. Amusing entertainment but with a serious side as well. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Once word is out that the Wicked author has a new book, whether it is part of that series or not, requests will begin flowing into the public library --Brad Hooper


“Reading The Next Queen of Heaven is like hanging on to the back of an out-of-control carnival ride—terrifying, thrilling, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.” (Ann Patchett, bestselling author of Bel Canto and Run)

“Comes alive in many dimensions, many of them funny and slightly bonkers.” (Los Angeles Times)

“A delight. . . . [A] funny and warmhearted exploration of the sacred and the profane.” (Washington Post)

More About the Author

Gregory Maguire received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University, and his B.A. from the State University of New York at Albany. He was a professor and co-director at the Simmons College Center for the Study of Children's Literature from 1979-1985. In 1987 he co-founded Children's Literature New England. He still serves as co-director of CLNE, although that organization has announced its intention to close after its 2006 institute.
The bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Lost, Mirror Mirror, and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, and A Lion Among Men. Wicked, now a beloved classic, is the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad.
He has three adopted children and is married to painter Andy Newman. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

A wonderful and very entertaining book.
Andrew W. Johns
This fact definitely influenced my perception of the book when I first started reading; I almost quit halfway through.
Well, possibly the fact that they both love someone who can never be theirs.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Nelaine Sanchez VINE VOICE on October 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Gregory Maguire is known for his retelling of children's stories (i.e. The Wizard of Oz, The Little Match Girl, etc.) This is the first of his novels that I see that he has come up with a purely fictional story. I must confess that I did have some trouble with the amount of characters in this novel and I found myself more than once trying to get a grip on what was happening because I had one of the characters mistaken.

It did get a little easier to read after a while, especially once I got the characters in the right order. And I do have to say that there were many instances where I found myself laughing out loud. I couldn't help it - there were just so many things going on and the more I thought of them, the funnier I found the whole thing to be. It was silly. The characters were over the top and the situations they found themselves in were unbelievable. There's a little bit of everything in this book - religion, sexuality, HIV, two feuding churches, teen pregnancy, musicians, even elderly nuns. It was pure mayhem! With all the crazy and zany antics throughout, there was also the more serious tone of finding and believing in oneself.

I also really enjoyed that the book takes place around Christmas - and I think Mr. Maguire did a great job in capturing the Christmas spirit - in his own quirky way.

I can't say that I loved this book, but I can definitely appreciate it. I found it too busy for my tastes and I felt that the ending lacked a little. I would have liked more closure for some of the characters. All in all, I can't say this is a book for everyone but I can see where many would still enjoy it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Kirkland VINE VOICE on November 28, 2010
Format: Paperback
Gregory Maguire's new book, The Next Queen Of Heaven, focuses on small town America and the role that religion plays in this setting. The cast of characters rely on religion in various ways for various purposes, some spiritual, some skeptical while others are going through the paces of their lives looking for ways to connect and finding them in different churches. The book is set in the small town of Thebes, New York in the late 1990's.

Jeremy Carr is the choir director at the local Catholic parish. He is hoping to make his big break after Christmas as he has won a place in a musical revue in New York. Jeremy is gay, and his singing group is made up of his friends who are also gay; one fighting AIDS. What has kept him in Thebes outside of a sense of obligation is his inability to stop loving Willem, who had a fling with him before Willem got married. Jeremy knows his love is impractical, but is stuck and can't bring himself to leave.

Another part of the book revolves around the Scales family. Mrs. Scales is raising three children by herself, and looks to religion to help her get through the days and provide a structure for her children. She is met by indifferent success, at least by the measures of traditional success. Tabitha is the oldest and the town scandal as she moves from man to man. The middle son is Hogan, a dropout who is interested in cars and garages and video games, but not much else. The youngest is a son named Kirk, who is interested in music and drama and doesn't fit in well in a traditional school setting. Mrs. Scales, who is a fundamentalist Christian, is transformed when she goes next door to the Catholic church and gets hit over the head with a statue.

There are other characters that play a part in the patterns.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on October 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
In 1999 in Upstate New York, seventeen year old Tabitha Scales becomes the caretaker to her ultra religious mom Leontina after the latter takes a nasty blow to the head from a statue of the Virgin Mary. A highly pious Protestant who religiously attended the Cliffs of Zion Radiant Radical Pentecostal Fellowship, the three-time divorcee undergoes a radical personality change from someone who thought profanity was a sin to cursing out loud. She is a stranger in many ways to her frustrated daughter and her sons.

Catholic Church music director Jeremy Carr hopes his show in New York City will enable him to flee from Thebes and finally leave behind his beloved Willem Handelaers, who is married with children. Although gay, Jeremy Carr becomes friends with the nuns of Our Lady of the Sorrowful Mysteries monastery. At about the same time, Tabitha falls in love but the object of her affection loves another woman who sings in Carr's Catholic Church choir.

As the millennium countdown occurs in this small town, religious fever is at a frenzied high level that most people never see in their lifetime. Thus faith is bandied often with jocular pseudo babbling philosophy that makes St, Anselm's proof of God seem more deductive valid than most of the cast, who rationalize their belief system to cover their behavior. Readers who relish something different will appreciate a visit to Thebes, New York at the end of days of the last millennium.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Paperback
In the small town of Thebes, New York, more than one drama is about to unfold. One of them involves Mrs. Leontina Scales and her brood of children. The Scales family takes the definition of dysfunctional to a whole new level. And that's before Mrs. Scales goes bonkers after a blow to the head. Her three husbands have all taken a powder, leaving her with three children and a bushel of headaches. Now that she's out of commission, her teenaged kids take full advantage of the situation.

Tabitha couldn't be much less sympathetic. Her mother embarrasses and disgusts her. She has a foul mouth, a foul disposition and a foul attitude. To be fair, she does have a rare flash of humanity, but mostly she exhibits large doses of self-involvement with bouts of adolescent angst intermixed with fits of juvenile rage. She actually thinks quite a lot, but it's largely about sex. On all other subjects, she's pretty much clueless. Fortunately, the kind of logic that Tabitha applies to everyday life isn't taught in schools.

Hogan sulks through his days, now happy to be freed from attending those tedious classes, a factor that certainly won't assist his eventual ability to become a functional part of society. He can barely read as it is, but at least he might be better at the books than his sister, Tabitha, who once tried to write a scathing note to some snooty girl who had offended her, but had no idea how to spell the words.

Then there's Kirk, the youngest of the Scales kids. He's the most promising --- kind, emotional, helpful, almost girlishly shy, and seems to have a healthy conscience --- and quite possibly gay, but he remains conflicted on that issue.

The notably nicest among the townsfolk of Thebes is Jeremy Carr, the director of the Radical Radiants church choir.
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