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The Heart Broke inby James Meek
Synopses & Reviews
From James Meek, the award-winning author of the international bestseller The Peoples Act of Love, comes a rich and intricate novel about everything that matters to us now: children, celebrity, secrets and shame, the quest for youth, loyalty and betrayal, falls from grace, acts of terror, and the wonderful, terrible inescapability of family.
Ritchie Shepherd, an aging pop star and a producer of a reality show for teen talent, is starting to trip over his own lies. Maybe filming a documentary about his father, Captain Shepherd, a British soldier executed by Northern Irish guerrillas, will redeem him.
His sister, Bec, is getting closer and closer to a vaccine for malaria. When shes not in Tanzania harvesting field samples, shes peering through a microscope at her own blood to chart the risky treatment shes testing on herself. Shes as addicted to honesty as Ritchie is to trickery.
Val Oatman is the editor of a powerful tabloid newspaper. The self-appointed conscience of the nation, scourge of hypocrites and cheats, he believes he will marry beautiful Bec.
Alex Comrie, a gene therapist (and formerly the drummer in Ritchie's band), is battling his mortally ill uncle, a brilliant and domineering scientist, over whether Alex might actually have discovered a cure for aging. Alex, too, believes he will marry Bec.
Colum O'Donabháin has just been released from prison, having served a twenty-five-year sentence for putting a gun to Captain Shepherds head when he refused to give up an informer. He now writes poetry.
Their stories meet and tangle in this bighearted epic that is also shrewd, starkly funny, and utterly of the moment. The Heart Broke In is fiction with the reverberating resonance of truth.
"At the heart of British writer Meek's seventh work of fiction (after We Are Now Beginning Our Descent) are brother and sister Ritchie, has-been pop-star, and Bec Shepherd, promising malaria researcher, whose father was killed by an IRA man when the Shepherds were just kids. Then there's Alex Comrie, former drummer in Ritchie's band, the Lazygods, now a gene therapist and reluctant heir to his brilliant Uncle Harry's cancer research institute. Val Oatman, editor of a tabloid newspaper, watches all of them until they become famous — or notorious — enough for him to take them down. Both Alex and Val fall in love with the beautiful, intelligent, and honest Bec, who's begun using herself as a guinea pig for her own research. In this novel, the Dickensian coincidences on which the plot often turns can stretch our present-day credulity, in part because they've fallen out of fashion in contemporary literary fiction, in part because the rest of Meek's novel is so bent on verisimilitude. Still, 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, including, as Alex's uncle hopes, immortality. Agent: Natasha Fairweather, AP Watt." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"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
A major new novel from the author of the international bestseller The Peoples Act of Love
Ritchie Shepherd, aging former pop star and wildly successful producer of a reality teen talent show, is starting to trip over the intricacy of his own lies. Gallingly, his sister, Bec, a scientist developing a crucial vaccine, is as addicted to truth-telling as Ritchie is to falsehood. Ritchie relies on her certitude even as he seethes with resentment. A devastating chain of events is set into motion when Bec tells her fiancé, Val, a powerful tabloid editor, that she can't bring herself to marry him after all. Val has set himself up as the moral arbiter of the nation, which will turn out to be impeccable camouflage for an elaborate revenge plot intended to destroy Bec by exposing the people who are close to her — which now include Alex, a brilliant researcher in gene therapies who is so desperate to have a family of his own that Bec finds herself willing to lie and cheat in order to get him what he wants.
The Heart Broke In is a novel about everything that matters to us now. Rich and compendious, its themes include but are not limited to: children, celebrity, secrets and shame, the science of immortality, falls from grace, acts of terror, the widening gap between rich and poor, the death of privacy, the unbridled rise of tabloid culture, invisible heroism, and the wonderful, terrible inescapability of family. A big-hearted epic in the manner of Tolstoy, its also as shrewd, starkly funny and of-the-moment as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom or Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot. Most of all, it is a staggeringly good read, fiction with the reverberating resonance of truth.
About the Author
James Meek is an award-winning writer whose novels include The Peoples Act of Love and We Are Now Beginning Our Descent. He lives in London.
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