Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
The Heart Broke In: A Novel Hardcover – October 2, 2012
|New from||Used from|
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The problem with The Heart Broke In is that it's difficult to mount an exploration of moral uncertainty when the contrasts you're dealing in are so stark. While the novel can't quite support its intellectual agenda, it is a colorful and urgently paced work that does deserve this praise: It would have been impossible to predict. With all his energy and ambition, Meek seems determined to never write the same book twice. —Edmund Gordon
“James Meek's new novel has all the urgent readability of his previous work combined with a wide-ranging vision of social and personal responsibility that's very rare in current fiction. I suppose we could call it a moral thriller. Whatever we call it, I was enormously impressed.” ―Philip Pullman
“There is much to enjoy in this ambitious portrait of deeply human characters, grappling with how to live in the modern world, where science is capable of almost anything.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Meek's latest novel is wall-to-wall substance but remains accessible and grounded in earthly humaneness with stunning characterization and boldly realized thematic roots in the universal pursuit of youth versus the questionable finality of death; in how wisdom can sustain, and knowledge in wicked hands destroy; and that as many bonds are forged with treachery as are broken. Meek guides readers through these depths, past intersections of biology and morality, science and art, with beauty and deftness. ” ―Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)
“Richly drawn characters behaving in unexpected ways make Meek's latest a gem.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Meek is a novelist of Dostoevskyan intensity and seriousness . . . The Heart Broke In is seldom less than compelling. It also has many terrific individual episodes. Meek is good on slightly messed-up family relations. He has a nice sense of the absurd . . . You have to admire the scope and ambition of this operatic saga.” ―Theo Tait, The Guardian
“This is a big juicy slab of a book, as thrilling and nourishing as a Victorian three-parter . . . A rich book, very much of the moment . . . It is a generous, kind book, and it is kindness, an immutable quality, that is presented here as the antidote to dogmatic moralising. Like Larkin's Arundel tomb, The Heart Broke In proves our almost instinct almost true. What will survive of us is love.” ―Wynn Wheldon, The Spectator
“James Meek is Britain's answer to Don DeLillo . . . The Heart Broke In marks a deepening of the vision of The People's Act of Love . . . Meek writes with taut control. The plot is dreamy, deceptive and allusive, packed with cues and clues . . . Halfway through, the heart breaks in, a real chronology begins, and cool, detached satire gives way to a complex meditation on death and time and the family.” ―Brian Morton, The Independent
“Juicy . . . [A] lively culture clash of a novel. . . A novel shimmering with black humour, which for the sheer verve of the writing deserves a long shelf life.” ―Lucy Beresford, The Daily Telegraph
“A readable addition to this justifiably acclaimed writer's oeuvre . . . The biting wit and social satire that characterised We Are Now Beginning Our Descent manifests itself in this novel with an entertaining cast of minor characters . . . Here is a novelist writing fat, complex but readable novels that have something serious to say about the way we live now and the society we live in. Along with Philip Hensher, he is the nearest British fiction has to a John Irving.” ―Louise Doughty, The Observer (London)
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
This terrific novel by James Meek looks at the lives of some Londoners as we focus on our cultural obsessions with youth, fame, and love. It also shows us the importance of loyalty and honor, and the messiness and complications of family.
We start off the novel with Ritchie Shepherd, who with his wife Karin, were singers in a famous rock group. Ritchie is older (but not so wiser) and now produces a reality show featuring teen talent. Oh, and he's also having a fling with a 15 year old girl who appeared on the show, a deed that is not only illegal and immoral but would most definitely end Ritchie's marriage to Karin as well as his reputation and career.
Ritchie's sister is Bec Shepherd, who at 33 is quite a few years younger than he is. She is everything he is not - she is honorable and honest and works as a scientist trying to eradicate malaria in Tanzania. She's even infected herself with a dangerous parasite in order to further her goals. Bec had recently become engaged to a newspaper editor named Val Oatman, but she really did so because the proposal was unexpected and when she returns the ring to him, he is anything but happy.
Also in love with Bec is Alex Comrie, who used to be the drummer in Ritchie and Karin's band. That drumming was really a lark for him and later on he goes to school and becomes a brilliant gene therapist and wants to come up with a cure for cancer - similar to the aspirations of his beloved brilliant and acclaimed Uncle Harry, who in fact came up with a cure for a certain type of cancer. Uncle Harry's encourages Alex to focus on the element of gene therapy that can reverse aging for reasons that become clear as you read along.
Add into the mix Matthew, Harry's evangelical son and family, an assortment of friends and family, and a man named Colum Donobhan, who just got out of prison for killing Ritchie and Bec's heroic soldier father in Northern Ireland 25 years earlier because their father would not divulge the name of an informant even though he was tortured.
This was an amazing read for me. This book felt epic and ambitious in every way and truly delves into so many different aspects of our culture and how we deal with issues as diverse as celebrity and fame, religion and science, betrayal and vengeance, the quest for youth and relevance, and really at heart, what it means to be human. These characters all felt very real to me and you truly care about them and what happens to them.
This was also an absolute page-turner for me and I am writing this review waaaay too late because I could not put this book down. In fact I'll probably have trouble sleeping because I can't stop thinking about it. It was engaging, profound and at times very funny to boot.
Just terrific. I was a big fan of James Meek's earlier novel, The People's Act of Love: A Novel and I liked this one even more.
For example, has-been rocker of Great Britian's Lazygods, Rictchie Shepherd, married the more talented and feisty member of the band, Karin, and settled down with two kids in the country. Now, twenty years later, he produces a teen makeover show. He is attracted to self-sabotage and a sloth's life of greed and sexual depravity. Seeking to assuage his guilt, Ritchie wants to redeem himself by interviewing and possibly forgiving the prisoner turned poet ex-con guerilla soldier who killed his father. His sister, Bec, the near-altruist scientist, does not want to forgive her father's assassin.
Val Oatmen, a strident newspaper editor and Bec's ex-fiance, wants to punish people who are immoral or who have embarrassing mistakes in their past. His weapon of choice is exploitation and an amoral intimidation plan to achieve "Gotcha!"
Behaviorally, the action of the book (and characters) is tragically madcap and outrageously tender. The absurdity of a Kafka-esque social environment thrives in a tide of Weltschmerz. Most people in the story are blessed with formidable intelligence and/or shrewdness, but their world-weary knowingness and naivete clash. Jaded perceptions often underscore actions. Would you throw a family member under the bus to save your own hide from public shame and legal ramifications? Here are some characters with no backbone, some with no independent thought, mixed with ethical pioneers of progress, and peppered with visionaries who would willingly sacrifice others or themselves for the cause.
Matthew is ruled by his servitude to Christ and his Uncle Harry worships the sovereignty of science. And, snap, those two can go at it, and we see the emotional implosions this causes. The novel reads like a psychological thriller--he who has the best morals wins! Maybe.
The acerbic tone is mitigated by a few people who break through cynicism and actually love each other, and want to make a team of two and do their personal best not just for themselves, but for the world-at-large. An Aspergers-like young scientist and a donor for the malaria cause find their way to each other, meshing their dreams and smarts together. Meanwhile, what is a 40-something doing chasing a fifteen-year-old?
Humanists and sociopaths alike people this novel. Meek isn't wimpy about featuring villains authentically and robustly or pushing the envelope to the edges of human purpose and motivation. The central theme is about morality, but Meek doesn't rub our noses in it to prove an authorial point. Whether you are a cautionary tale or a noble martyr, you are not exempt from the mortal coil of pain and loss, suffering and obstinacy, and the Hail Mary hope of earthly or spiritual salvation.
The prose here is the first thing that reminded me of Franzen, a combination of frank and cheeky, with some winding, exuberantly long sentences just shy of purple, but controlled and fruit-bearing. He digresses with philosophical pathways, always bringing the reader back to the original point, or he shows us the paradox of judgment by way of demonstrating the error of statistics.
"Suppose we find out that everyone in the city who wears a red hat has gone crazy and is sabotaging the city's water supply. So we find a way to go in and put all the red-hatted citizens to sleep, and the water supply's safe. But then we find out these red-hatted saboteurs, as well as vandalizing the pipes, were the ones who were delivering bread around the city. So we've saved the city from being poisoned, but now we have to stop it starving."
Meek looks at old and new ideas from all sides, provoking the reader to arrive at unexpected conclusions about the moral environment. There's a little melodrama thrown in, but it is folded in with finesse, keeping the believability on tap and fluidly organic. This ranks on my top ten of the year, an impeccably measured howl of shame, a shrieking inside a whisper, a wolf in sheep's clothing, coming to swallow you whole with a smile.
Ritchie Shepherd is an aging rock star, once a drummer in a record that was in the top ten. He now is producing teen reality shows but is thinking seriously of doing a documentary about his father who was murdered by Northern Irish Guerrillas. Will this redeem him or will he find a way to mess this up, too.
He has a sister named Bec who is as good and moral as Ritchie is amoral. She is a leading researcher on curing malaria and has gone so far as to inject herself with the untested virus. She spends a lot of time in Tanzania working in her laboratory. She is honest and direct. She is also beautiful but at about 30 years old is still single.
Val is the editor of a sleazy tabloid newspaper and wants to marry Bec. It's not going to happen. Alex Comrie also wants to marry Bec. He is a prestigious scientist who thinks he may have found a cure for aging but it's still in the working stages.
The murderer of Ritchie and Bec's father has recently been released from prison and has begun to write poetry. Will Ritchie try and take revenge?
All of these things come togther in this epic of a novel. It is sad, poignant, funny and current. I had a good time reading it and enjoyed the contents thoroughly. The only thing that I didn't like was the style. Other that that, this is an excellent novel.