Monday 11 February 2019

Book Review: The Heavens by Sandra Newman (Literary Fiction)

Title: The Heavens
Author: Sandra Newman
Grove Press

Publication Date: 22 February 2019
eBook - PDF
Literary Fiction
ARC via NetGalley


New York, late summer, 2000. A party in a spacious Manhattan apartment, hosted by a wealthy young activist. Dozens of idealistic twenty-somethings have impassioned conversations over takeout dumplings and champagne. The evening shines with the heady optimism of a progressive new millennium. A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate--and they begin to fall in love. From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn't that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she's had since childhood. In the dream, she's transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England.

But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life. And soon she's waking from it to find the world changed--pictures on her wall she doesn't recognize, new buildings in the neighborhood that have sprung up overnight. As she tries to make sense of what's happening, Ben worries the woman he's fallen in love with is losing her grip on reality.

Transporting the reader between a richly detailed past and a frighteningly possible future, The Heavens is a powerful reminder of the consequences of our actions, a poignant testament to how the people we love are destined to change, and a masterful exploration of the power of dreams.

The Heavens was an interesting read. It took me a few chapters to get into the story, but once I did I found it enjoyable. I loved the premise, and having William Shakespeare as a character appealed to the culture geek in me. The book poses some interesting questions on cause and effect, and on change--in particular the way relationships can evolve as people age and take different paths. I loved Kate, but I struggled a little to relate to Ben at times. Also, I tended to enjoy the scenes in Elizabethan England more than those in the present day. However, this was certainly a thought-provoking and compelling read, and overall I give it 4.5 stars.

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