From James Meek, the prizewinning author of the international bestseller "The People's 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.Read more...
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From James Meek, the prizewinning author of the international bestseller "The People's 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, 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 she's not in Tanzania harvesting field samples, she's peering through a microscope at her own blood to chart the risky treatment she's testing on herself. She's 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 Donobhan has just been released from prison, having served a twenty-five-year sentence for putting a gun to Captain Shepherd's head when he refused to give up an in-former. 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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-07-09
- Reviewer: Staff
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. (Oct. 2)
The inescapable mess of family
James Meek’s stunningly crafted fifth novel, The Heart Broke In, follows the exploits of Ritchie Shepherd, an aging, married pop star who is defined by the parameters of his marriage, the success of his teen talent reality show and his penchant for underage girls.
His sister, Bec Shepherd, on the other hand, fills her time not with vices but with the search for a malaria vaccine, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Bec has dared turn down the marriage proposal of megalomaniac tabloid editor Val Oatman, and Oatman’s bitter revenge—directed at Bec, using her brother—threatens not only to break apart the family, but also to ruin their livelihoods.
From the dried-out plains of Tanzania to the foggy estates dotting the London countryside, The Heart Broke In follows these all too realistic characters as they search for medical miracles, a family’s forgiveness and exoneration in the public eye. What makes Meek’s brilliant novel so compulsive and utterly enjoyable is his ability to push each of his characters to their moral limit.