Summary and book reviews of The Book of Heaven by Patricia Storace

The Book of Heaven

By Patricia Storace

The Book of Heaven

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

From the author of the classic travel memoir Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece, a stunningly original novel of heartrending lyricism about four women who invite us to enter into a new and powerful imagination of the divine: what if "a woman's point of view" were also God's?

In the prologue, Eve speaks about what we are told happened in the Garden of Eden, a story she hardly recognizes. She tells her version of events, revealing to us that the constellations we see in heaven conceal other heavens we have never seen or allowed ourselves to see. She reveals four of these hidden constellations and describes how they came to be. Each of the four subsequent chapters is the story of one of these new zodiacs, teaching us how to look at these constellations central to women - a knife, a cauldron for cooking, a paradise garden, a pair of lovers embracing - and how to know the women whose stories they tell: a metamorphosis of Sarah, Abraham's wife; an invented polytheist cook; Job's wife; and the queen of Sheba. Patricia Storace brilliantly and radically reimagines the worlds of these women, freeing them from the old tales in which they were trapped, putting them in the foreground of their stories and of the Old Testament itself.

Prologue:
A View from Another Heaven

We on earth navigate by the stars, so it is no wonder we have gone so far off course—since we have never seen more than a fragment of Heaven. Our knowledge of Hell is more detailed, and at least of certain regions, even thorough; we have spent so much more of our time and resources on the exploration of Hell. Hell is a much easier object of study; though it has endless variations, its nature is repetitive and unchanging. The stories of the damned told there all end the same way.

Heaven, by contrast, is infinite in a different way, endlessly reconceiving itself as the ocean does. In Heaven, the equinoxes shift; even the pole stars change places, changing what we trust and rely on, believe, what we are sure we know. You look and see, as you expect to, Polaris, now the North Star, the certainty of Heaven; but the brilliant Thuban, five thousand years ago, was once the pole star. At the time the pyramids were built, Thuban was the star that ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse

I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I think it's necessary to be one to enjoy The Book of Heaven. As with any magical fiction, Storace takes liberal poetic license with these historical women's stories. The original tales were written by men; told from their perspective. Storace has clearly has pondered these women's lives and experiences and has arrived at these different allegories; told from their perspectives. As a woman it is not all that difficult for me to give myself - and my disbelief - over to the author and identify with her point of view. It would be interesting to get a male perspective. But beyond gender, each story offers the opportunity to step beyond current beliefs into another realm of reality.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

Full Review Members Only (1261 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed poet and memoirist Storace steps onto the terrain of myth, creating a feminist cosmology... Poetic, elusive, and thought provoking.

Booklist

Storace's imaginative look into the nature of eternity, memory, and the divine leaves readers with much to contemplate. A stunningly poetic and mythological novel.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Storace's striking feminist mythopoeic work offers provocative alternatives in beautifully crafted prose.

Library Journal

Starred Review. Mystical, lyrical, fascinating . . . A fine author can create stories that open one's mind to alternative views of entrenched archetypes. In a lyrical, feministic, fictional version of Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, this is a marvelous, thought-provoking book for readers who enjoy mythologies which reach down into one's soul. Highly recommended.

Reader Reviews
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

The Constellations

Photograph of Orion as seen by the naked eye (lines added) by Till CrednerThere are currently eighty-eight officially recognized and named constellations. According to one astronomy website there are, "14 men and women, 9 birds, two insects, 19 land animals, 10 water creatures, two centaurs, one head of hair, a serpent, a dragon, a flying horse, a river and 29 inanimate objects." (Some constellations include more than one creature which is why there are 90 creatures but only 88 constellations.) Included among them are the familiar constellations: Orion, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia and the signs of the Zodiac. But over the millennia and across cultures there have been hundreds, probably thousands, more, depending on who was connecting the heavenly dots and why. Assigning names and significance to the stars ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Book of Heaven, try these:

  • A Better Angel jacket

    A Better Angel

    by Chris Adrian

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    The stories in A Better Angel describe the terrain of human suffering—illness, regret, mourning, sympathy—in the most unusual of ways - by turns heartbreaking, magical, and darkly comic.

  • The Red Tent jacket

    The Red Tent

    by Anita Diamant

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    In the Bible, Dinah's life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. In The Red Tent Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history to create an intimate, immediate connection.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  254Cartwheel:
    Jennifer duBois
  2.  143Happier at Home:
    Gretchen Rubin

All Discussions

Who Said...

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.