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The Center of Things

3.24  ·  Rating Details ·  130 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
As a reporter for New York’s last evening tabloid, Marie Brown writes about the bizarre and the scandalous. But her life is hardly either. She’s too single, too tall, and too pragmatic for anything other than her routine–which consists of going to work and going to the library, where she indulges in her one passion, physics, and in conversations with Marco Trentadue, the s ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Albert Norton
Apr 22, 2017 Albert Norton rated it really liked it
I actually looked at this book on Amazon because I was thinking about using the title (“The Center of Things”) for a novel I wrote. Seeing that it had been used (by author Jenny McPhee), and somewhat recently (2001), I started to move on, but for some reason dug a little more to see what it was about. I suppose just because I’m a book worm and can’t help it.

The premise was intriguing. The protagonist, Marie, is a tabloid journalist writing – in advance – a celebrity’s obituary. But at the same
Aug 07, 2009 Marvin rated it really liked it
A wonderfully quirky book. Its main character works for a NYC tabloid & gets her big break when she convinces the publisher to allow her to write an obituary for her favorite movie star from the 40s & 50s, who is near death. This main story line, along with the light tone of the writing, make it appear on the surface as lightweight chick lit. But it's much more clever than that, with lots more going on. She uncovers a mystery in her subject's life that she struggles to solve & unders ...more
Nov 08, 2007 Phaedra rated it liked it
Recommends it for: no one
Again for November, a quick read, and one I doubt I'll remember next year. It's actually two stories in one, sharing in common only the main character, Marie. As a tabloid journalist, she sets out to cover the story of her movie-star idol, Nora Mars, uncovering truly complicated relationships and tabloid-worthy dirt. Loosely paralleling this is the relationship Marie forms with the oddball pseudo-intellectual Marco at the library where they discuss theories of quantum physics.

Really, I found the
Nov 11, 2011 Brunvatne rated it really liked it
The emotional plot is fine, I enjoyed it. But what stands out about this book is how quantum physics and its philosophy is incorporated into the story. The main character presents a load of information on quantum physics to a budding friend in plain English. Somehow it worked beautifully, and was part of the story rather than being an interruption from it. I learned so much about science while feeling like I was reading a light fun piece.
Aug 07, 2007 Sadie rated it really liked it
It has been a few years since I read this, but I remember loving it. In fact, I may re-read it. A cutesie quip would run something like "Bridget Jones meets Richard Feynman." I guess I'll leave it at that because 1) I hope someone will find that idea intriguing and 2) I'm exhausted and have no more energy left for a more serious analysis.
May 04, 2007 Leslie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: scientists
I liked this book because it has a character interested in quantum mechanics, and an odd-ball romance. The writing plods along a bit, but it is definitely worth reading. Start with No Ordinary Matter by this author first. Her writing is very endearing and everyday.
Jun 09, 2009 Abby rated it did not like it
Recommended to Abby by: library book sale
I gave this 100 pages and had to stop. It was trying waaaay too hard to be hip cute and witty. I was just annoyed at the format and didn't even care enough to finish which is rare for me. Dissapointing.
Feb 29, 2008 Alexis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bookclub
love this book with its combination of science and pop/tabloid culture: heady scientific concepts, a tabloid journalist who berates herself for being early by calculating how much time she's wasted that way, a dying movie star, and a juicy secret just waiting to come out. love it!
Apr 05, 2010 michelle added it
Shelves: 2010, ladies
quantum physics + a tabloid reporter + the NYPL + a dead movie star + for some reason a whole half chapter that talks about giraffes = this was really fun.
Jul 02, 2008 Dani rated it it was ok
For some reason I read all the McPhee siblings' books, and they are okay enough.
Jan 19, 2011 June rated it it was ok
So far, eh. I'm about a third of the way through and waiting for plot to really kick in.
Kiley Pontrelli
Sep 16, 2013 Kiley Pontrelli rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The storyline was ok - tried really hard to understand the quantum mechanics ...
Instead ended up skipping many pages.
Disappointed ...
Jun 24, 2013 Harvey rated it it was ok
- Marie Brown, a 39 year old tabloid journalist fascinated by Physics, is assigned to write the obituary of Nora Mars (a legendary and scandalous film star).
Feb 03, 2013 Meg added it
"Clever, interwoven tale of science and love. Science parts a bit heavy, love part a bit melodramatic."
Aug 02, 2011 Barb added it
scanned a lot of pages in this book, just to finish...not a keeper in my minds eye....
Oct 19, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it
Lots of physics in this one, and the love story is quirky and compelling.
Apr 04, 2011 Laura rated it it was ok
ehh .... I kept hoping it would get better ... but I think b/c I'm not much into science .. a lot of the material was dull
May 24, 2010 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read - you have to focus a little but it's thought provoking and insightful and it gives you hope. I love all the quotes that Nora Mars "says." Its empowering, revealing, and contemplative.
Feb 10, 2009 Colleen rated it it was ok
Ok, wouldn't recommend it. The science got a bit heavy handed.
Jessie rated it it was amazing
Nov 25, 2013
Trey rated it it was amazing
Feb 18, 2008
Shad rated it liked it
Aug 27, 2011
Cai rated it it was ok
May 15, 2011
anna rated it really liked it
Jan 02, 2016
Maris rated it it was amazing
Dec 23, 2009
Sara Benjamin
Sara Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Nov 21, 2009
Carrie rated it liked it
Dec 09, 2007
Annette Colombini
Annette Colombini rated it really liked it
Sep 20, 2016
Amaresh rated it it was ok
Jul 17, 2012
Robin rated it liked it
Jan 05, 2010
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Jenny McPhee is the author of the novels A Man of No Moon, No Ordinary Matter, and The Center of Things. She is the coauthor with her sisters Martha and Laura of Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits. Her translations include Paolo Maurensig's Canone Inverso, and Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II.
Her short stories and articles have appeared in Bookforum; Brookly
More about Jenny McPhee...

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