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

3.8 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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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)
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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: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
I am a true Maguire fan, having read and enjoyed many of his fantasy books (Wicked series, Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister, Mirror, Mirror). My biggest complaint about this book is its misleading cover reviews. Author Ann Patchett likens this book to "hanging on to the back of an out-of-control carnival ride--terrifying, thrilling, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure," Really, Ms. Patchett...you need to get out more!There is nothing "terrifying" or "out-of-control" in this story; it's not what I would call quirky or "bonkers," and I also didn't find anything particularly humorous (no, I'm not offended by religious satire, which I don't think describes this genre anyway.). The back cover description of the book seems designed to trick Maguire fans into believing this is a fantasy story (e.g., when a character suffers a brain insult that results in her confusion and struggling with speech apraxia, no one interprets her ramblings as "speaking in tongues." There is no battle between religious groups, and, for those of you expecting a nativity angle, there is no birth.). It's basically a story of life in a small town, with ordinary people struggling to make their way in life. So, just a warning: The Next Queen of Heaven is a total departure from Mr. Maguire's usual genre (he apologizes in the intro. I thought it was for writing something different, but now I'm convinced it's for his having to go along with the misleading marketing of his book. You are forgiven, sir!). This fact definitely influenced my perception of the book when I first started reading; I almost quit halfway through. It did end up being sort of sweet, so I'm glad I finished it.
By the way, who IS the next queen of heaven...Jeremy?
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By KLR on November 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What do I think about this book? I think anyone who gave it a rating of two stars or less, doesn't understand satire or is too deeply devout to laugh at themselves. I thought it was fantastic to use humor to bring a bit of reality to light; the constant press for moral conformity in religious groups and the conflicts with the flawed individuals who attend.

I also thought the parallels between Jeremy's long failed relationship with Willem to Tabitha's recently failed relationship with Caleb were nicely drawn. So what if Jeremy's gay and Tabitha's a bit loose? They both loved someone who loved someone else more, and it hurt no matter the sexual orientation. Then look at the nuns growing older and older, locked away from the world, while the young die from accidents and disease... The old are certain of their own upcoming deaths, while the young are certain of their long lives... Proving again that everyday is a gift not a promise.

In between bursts of sarcasm and crazy, GM brings to life the old cliches of living life well and to the fullest... Otherwise the Virgin Mary or Flying Baby Jesus might try to brain you.
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This COULD HAVE BEEN a very good book. I guess Maguire offered it as free, although I PAID for it right here on Amazon. Very disappointing. Characters totally scattered and unexplained. The only thing that was completed in this book was that someone got married. Big deal. Guess all his books cannot be golden, right?
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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.
Read more ›
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