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The Heart Broke In

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  828 ratings  ·  169 reviews
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
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ebook, 416 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published August 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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switterbug (Betsey)
If you enjoyed Jonathan Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS, this British novel will likely appeal to you with its cast of emotionally blunted individuals. Most of them possess imaginative minds thwarted by a fatal flaw of some type of arrogance. It has that combination of rueful and smug, outspoken and dour that is similar to the American Midwest that Franzen portrayed. Moral ambiguity is the centrifuge of their everyday lives.

For example, has-been rocker of Great Britian's Lazygods, Rictchie Shepherd, m
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David Barker
A strange novel: so sweeping in its ambitions but so modest in its power. James Meek is undoubtedly a very, very good writer (this is the first time I've read him) - there are dozens of passages in this book that took my breath away, they were so vivid and resonant. (From short sentences to 3 or 4 page set pieces that dazzled.) But, in a novel that contains around 15 major characters, the author failed spectacularly to make me care enough about any of them. The only character who even came close ...more
Lou
James Meek is is very ambitious in tackling a vast array of topics in this family drama. You can't get a more ambitious character than one trying to possibly find the cure for aging.
It is all love and war, moralityand pioneering discoveries. Among all the discoveries the characters wish to find they do successfully discover darker problems at home, these at times enlighten and at other times shock and awaken them from lies and learn of trust.
They discover real love amongst the failings that occu
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Martinxo
560 pages, yes, that explains a lot. You know what it's like when you turn the TV on and there's a game of footy about to start and the two teams come out and the first 30 minutes are a blistering end-to-end full-out attacking,skilful game, hugely enjoyable stuff. So you go to the fridge for a can of Stella, come back and in yr absence the game has changed considerably. The defenders have taken over, the strikers are lost somewhere, the wingers are off having a fag somewhere, you loose concentra ...more
Cynthia
I'm vacilating between 3 and 4 stars. It kept my interest but in the end left me wondering why it was written. It had a point but not a compelling one. Maybe it's just so dang depressing it was hard to enjoy.

The good news is this is book #100 for 2012!!!
Jill
The Heart Is Broken is an astoundingly good book that focuses on two of the core questions of life: “What makes someone a good person? And when is a life truly worthwhile?”

In attempting to arrive at the answers, it takes the reader on a joyride of many of the hypocracies and peccadillos of our modern life: a frenzied media that creates instantly celebrities in all fields, only to take rapid pleasure in tearing them down…a hapless and hopeless quest for eternal life…a “moral majority” that takes
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Dan Pierce
I downloaded this book based solely on the fact that I really really liked The People's Act of Love by Meek. Thought it was fantastic. Wow, was I disappointed. I find it hard to believe this was written by the same person. I struggled to get through it. Not a likable character in the book. The story is all over the place and not really believable. And although I got to the end, I'm still not sure why it was written. Questions about loyalty. But not interesting ones. And lots of useless informati ...more
M
This book has one of the best opening chapters I've read in a very long time. I was gripped and excited about where the story was going to - and then, yes, it all went wrong. Having been enthralled by the first few chapters, which focus on Ritchie, who is the most interesting of the characters we meet in this novel, I was disappointed at the shift in focus onto Bec. Turns out I had a right to be as, for me, her parasite/malaria story was dull and boring, and she was just so limp and worthy that ...more
Matt
“Right vs. Wrong”—a singular and ubiquitous concept that couples two subjective and relative ideas in an eternal struggle—is a well-travelled theme in literature. The moving and complex “moral thriller”* The Heart Broke In pulls the thread that ties this conceptual couple together, separates them and then precisely strips each component idea—“right” & “wrong”—into their respective pieces. Simply put: when it comes to human behavior and action, the idea of “right vs. wrong” is falsely binary, ...more
Zahwil
The Heart Broke In is an exceptional novel about all the important things in life: marriage, love, death, and what it means to be a good person.

The primary characters are old brother Ritchie Shepherd and younger sister Bec, whose childhood experiences included losing their father to the war at a young age. Although siblings, Ritchie and Bec are nothing alike.

Ritchie is a famous singer turned television producer (of a BBC show called Teen Makeover), while Bec is a dedicated scientist working on
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Elaine
The Heart Broke In has a considerable amount of plot -- you'll be turning pages to see how various suspenseful dilemmas are resolved, and when a certain number of them turn out to be loose ends..., well, you'll already have raced through many hundreds of pages and may have forgetten all the balls in the air.

The problem is twofold: 1) despite many juicy elements - among others, an aging rockstar turned reality TV star with a taste for underage nookie, several brilliant and beautiful scientists on
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Bonnie Brody
The Heart Broke In: A Novel is a saga in the good old-fashioned sense of the word. It examines a family, its history, its morality, its amorality, its ambitions, achievements and failures.

Ritchie Shepherd is an aging rock star, once a drummer in a record that was in the top ten. He now is producing teen reality shows but is thinking seriously of doing a documentary about his father who was murdered by Northern Irish Guerrillas. Will this redeem him or will he find a way to mess this up, too.

He h
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Ahsan
I got hold of an advance copy of James Meek's latest novel thanks to a friend, and I really enjoyed reading it.

Superficially, "The Heart Breaks In" is a book about a family at the shore of modernity, and a very human story about scientists, religious nuts and rock stars. It is, at turns, comic, tragic and smoothly poetic, as only Meek can be. But underneath, as readers with a keen eye for the politics of daily life will recognize, Meek has conducted an investigation into modern values. He has hi
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M
This was a real trippy read. I think that as it clipped along, and got way more interesting and insightful, I would have bumped this up to four, but the first half really lagged and the writing - while generally neat and precise - did get on my nerves.
This is a story centering around three people - Ritchie, the classic Hollywood sleaze, a dried up has been rock star who now produces reality teen shows, who cannot stop cheating on his wife but is really regretful when he gets caught, then his sis
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Peter
Ricky Shepherd is a former rock star with a gauche TV show and a taste for teenyboppers--as well as a wife and children. His sister, Rebecca, is a world famous malaria researcher who develops a relationship with another world famous scientist. And one of Rebecca's admirers--whom she refused to marry--is an egotistical publisher who has started a morality website: the business model is getting famous figures to reveal secrets about others--or have their own secrets revealed. The website then inve ...more
Kats
A big family saga with a number of difficult themes, mostly revolving around love, family bonds and, above all, betrayal. Set in 2012 London (with a few excursions to Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Hampshire, Dorset, etc), this is a great Modern British Novel if such a "genre" exists. Complex and interestingly flawed characters who often make terrible decisions and act out of selfishness disguised as goodness of their hearts in combination with a decent plot made this a truly enjoyable no ...more
Jakey Gee
An entertaining, pacey and thoroughly 'present day' British power-family yarn, built upon an interesting (if at times a little laboured) medical metaphor and posing some chunky moral questions about love, loyalty and sacrifice.

I don't often read the kind of stuff that references Reality TV or pop science (the very things that by reading novels many are trying to escape), but this didn't feel caricatured in the way one might expect (bar the Moral Foundation, which is Dacre meets the Screws, sure
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Jim
One reviewer on Goodreads says that she wished the book was longer. Actually I do get that because there are a lot of people in this book and some of the minor ones really don’t get the time on the page they probably deserve and will end up on the cutting room floor if they even manage to squeeze themselves into the script. Matthew’s daughter Rose who leaves home to become a Muslim is one. As far as I'm concerned there are two books fighting against each other here, a thriller and a morality tal ...more
Ricki
I heard rave reviews about this book. At first I thought there must be something wrong with ME, because it was tedious reading for me to get through. I did not like the characters and had trouble keeping them straight as to who was doing what to whom. Could be because I do not like cheating characters...just a flaw in my make-up, I guess. I found the structure of the book fragmented. The way the plot was woven together was why I call it fragmented, at least to my brain. I find it hard to be nega ...more
Pepperpots
Great opening chapter but that's it.
Patty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize
James Meek is one of those perennially praised, never quite garlanded writers who must get thoroughly bored of reading how awful it is that he’s not better known and more successful. The Heart Broke In, his fifth novel, like those that came before, is built on the solid foundations of deeply satisfying plotting and precision-tooled prose.

The Heart Broke In might best be described as a compressed family saga – it’s got a generous cast of characters, all fanning out from the central brother-sister
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Ellen
I liked this book well enough. If I could, I'd rate it three and a half stars. It reminded me a lot of Jonathan Franzen's, The Corrections with all the dysfunctional family members. I also give it props for the clever title.
Jana
Oh the tangled webs we weave.

Enjoyed this British tale of family, love, betrayal. More betrayal. Wouldn't want to be any of these troubled people, but I was very intrigued in peering into their lives.

Recommend the audible!
anexactinglife
The Heart Broke In by James Meek is a collection of connected short stories. It starts with the story of a slimeball TV producer who is having an affair with a teenager. I debated whether to continue reading, but it then switches to the story of a related character, and the book keeps improving with every episode. There is also lots of science in it. I am hooked!

The Guardian wrote about it: ‘Addictive...a story about families and betrayal, genetics and inheritance, sex and responsibility in the
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Tom Hughes
Meek manages the difficult trick of introducing a lead character -- the first person you meet in the story, and a lot of the story is told from his perspective -- who is thoroughly weak and selfish, but still keeps our interest and (some of) our sympathy. You meet him doing something pretty despicable and later he does something even more so, but the bigger story Meek is telling keeps you going, and the other characters (who, over time, become the focus of the book) keep your sympathy. On top of ...more
Cher
The Heart Broke In is a timely, amusing, well-told story with engaging little science stories for the non-science-minded. Page 100 and page 189 in particular are very entertaining and make me wish my science teachers were such exciting story-tellers.
A long time ago, read Harry, forty million grandfathers ago, your ancestor the single cell was big and weak and slow, but his neighbor the litle mitochondrion was full of energy. And the mitochondrion said to the cell, "Let me come inside you and l
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Alison O'keefe
I couldn't work out if this was a 3 or 4 star read - I would have gone 3.5 if it was an option. There were certain areas of the book I couldn't stop reading, but overall there was a lot of unnecessary fluff that had nothing really to do with the story.
I think the writer tried to take on too many perspectives and so the real storyline got lost - even if he did want that many different points of view, I would have preferred more interesting characters that were only glimpsed.
It was quite damning
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Pam
I had a hard time getting into The Heart Broke In by James Meek. I could not remember who was who. My notes for the book read: "Bec - trying to find a cure for malaria" and "Ritchie - Bec's brother, married to Karin" and "Alex is Harry's nephew." But once I finally got everyone straight - almost halfway through the book, it started to come together for me. I started caring about the characters.

I am not one of those people who analyzes books - what does this mean, what does that mean, what is th
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Lynn
Growing up we are all ingrained with our parents and societies morals. It is our own choice whether we follow those instincts as we grow into adults and inevitably, some of us choose not to. How far you go outside of societies boundaries will depend on how much you can deal with on your conscience and, of course, if you get caught or not.
Ritchie is a ex musician with a fair amount of fame in his past and his wife who is still in the limelight. Bec is Ritchie's scientist sister, who has made inr
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The Curious Bibli...: DISCUSSION: The Heart Broke In 5 14 Nov 16, 2012 09:42PM  
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  • Darkness on the Edge of Town
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  • A Naked Singularity
  • What the Family Needed
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“She loved herself, and her body’s resistance to all those poisons was the exact measure of how indestructibly young and beautiful she felt she was.” 2 likes
“People find different ways of keeping the ones they loved among the living, he said cautiously. Children. Memories. The names of things.” 1 likes
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