The Heart Broke In: Book summary and reviews of The Heart Broke In by James Meek

The Heart Broke In

by James Meek

The Heart Broke In by James Meek X
The Heart Broke In by James Meek
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  • Published in USA  Oct 2012
    416 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From James Meek, the award-winning 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, 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 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 O'Donabháin 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 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.

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Media Reviews

"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." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. The story's thematic roots are revealed in the universal pursuit of youth versus the questionable finality of death; in how wisdom can sustain and knowledge, in wicked hands, destroy; and in the realization that treachery forges as many bonds as it breaks. Meek guides readers through these depths, past intersections of biology and morality, science and art, with beauty and deftness." - Booklist

"Though slightly laborious as the large plot winds down, this is a clever, observant, and absorbing novel as timely as the British tabloid scandals in the news right now." - Library Journal

"Richly drawn characters behaving in unexpected ways make Meek's (We are Now Beginning our Descent, 2008, etc.) latest a gem." - Kirkus

"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

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Author Information

James Meek

James Meek is an award-winning writer whose novels include The People's Act of Love and We Are Now Beginning Our Descent. He lives in London.

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