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The Heart Broke In

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  908 ratings  ·  176 reviews
Bec Shepherd is a malaria researcher struggling to lead a good life. Ritchie, her reprobate brother, is a rock star turned TV producer. When Bec refuses an offer of marriage from a powerful newspaper editor and Ritchie's indiscretions catch up with him, brother and sister are forced to choose between loyalty and betrayal.
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published August 30th 2012 by Canongate (first published 2012)
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The Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanBring Up the Bodies by Hilary MantelThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel JoyceThe Chemistry of Tears by Peter CareyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Man Booker Prize Eligible 2012
55th out of 151 books — 266 voters
Oxygen by Andrew  MillerA Conspiracy of Paper by David LissThe Heart Broke In by James MeekMy Beautiful Launderette by Hanif KureishiThinks... by David Lodge
2nd out of 50 books — 9 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,692)
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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
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
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
Sep 12, 2012 Lou rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: arc
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
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!!!
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
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
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
“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
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
Apr 27, 2013 Elaine rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
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
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
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
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
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
Numit de Philip Pullman „un thriller moral”, cel mai recent roman al scriitorului britanic James Meek, Invaziile inimii (tradus în română la Humanitas Fiction, de Carmen Toader), propune o reconsiderare a grilei de valori morale, plasând personajele într-un relativism în care conceptele de bine, rău, adevăr sau minciună nu mai pot fi conţinute de o definiţie clară. Eroii – sau antieroii – lui James Meek trec „dincolo de bine şi de rău”, devin inclasificabili, singurul lor scop fiind acela de a î ...more
Nov 04, 2012 Kats rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, audio
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
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
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
Great opening chapter but that's it.
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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
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.
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!
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
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
Le cœur par effraction est un récit où les choix et les actions des personnages créent le fil de l'intrigue. Des petits morceaux de vie éparpillés ici et là faisant un tout. Plusieurs points de vue de personnages s'alternent pour nous présenter l'étendue de l'histoire. On se demande parfois où l'auteur veut nous mener dans ce capharnaüm de données dans lesquelles je me suis parfois égarée. Pourtant, dans ce récit, tout a son importance.
Avis complet :
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
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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The Curious Bibli...: DISCUSSION: The Heart Broke In 5 14 Nov 16, 2012 09:42PM  
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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.” 3 likes
“People find different ways of keeping the ones they loved among the living, he said cautiously. Children. Memories. The names of things.” 2 likes
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