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The Heart Broke In

3.3  ·  Rating details ·  1,084 Ratings  ·  194 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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Sam Quixote
Feb 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
I suppose minor spoilers ahead for anyone planning on reading this, which is, oh, no-one? Thought so. Good choice, everyone!

Sleazy ex-popstar turned sleazy reality show producer Ritchie Shepherd cheats on his wife with a 15 year old girl (not the first time either) and gets blackmailed by his sister’s jilted lover, newspaper mogul Val Oatman. Ritchie has to give up dirt on his sister Bec or Val will reveal his crime and Ritchie loses it all.

That sort of sounds like a semi-interesting storyline
...more
Martinxo
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
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
Jill
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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
...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
Lou
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
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, morality and 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 occ
...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!!!
Dan Pierce
Jan 16, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt
Mar 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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
Michelle
Mar 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Zahwil
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Elaine
Apr 22, 2013 rated it liked it
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
...more
M
Oct 21, 2012 rated it liked it
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
...more
Bonnie Brody
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Peter
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction-general
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
Bookaholic
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
Jakey Gee
Feb 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
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
...more
Kats
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2012
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
Jim
Oct 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Nicole
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Im Klappentext ist nur eines von mehreren äußerst spannenden Handlungssträngen erwähnt. Hier handelt es sich um einen großen Roman über zwischenmenschliche Beziehungen aller Art. Vater und Sohn, Onkel und Neffe, Mann und Frau, Bruder und Schwester, Bruder und Bruder - Liebe, Eifersucht, Geheimnisse, Verrat und Ehre... James Meek schafft Situationen und Konstellationen, wie sie das Leben schreibt. Manchmal traurig, manchmal schwer - aber immer real und nie langweilig. Ein Buch, das mich positiv ü ...more
Anna J
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
Too many clichés about men who cheat on women and about women who cheat on men and feel guilty about it, or who are completely depressed/crazy.
Made me think of The Slap by Tsolkias. I realise that this kind of books is definitely not my favourite one. People are always the same : Flaws and weaknesses. They don't find the strength and they don't meet the boredom that real people have to deal with.
Jana
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
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!
Renita D'Silva
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I like James Meek's writing style very much- he is very tongue-in-cheek and not afraid to have a laugh at the expense of the characters he has created. I liked Ritchie a lot but did get a bit bored with the detailed descriptions of Bec's research.
Ellen
Oct 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Pepperpots
Dec 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Great opening chapter but that's it.
Blazin_logixx
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it
This book surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. Did it make me sit and turn page-after-page, chapter-after-chapter, no. However, it made me come back to it and continue to read.
I feel like the Moral Foundation could have been more believable if it was introduced in the beginning and the reader was a witness to how the MF can truly destroy one's life.
As well, the characters could have been more defined and Alex could have had more of a backbone, while still loving Bec.
No regrets in reading t
...more
Trish Jones
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
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Sam
Oct 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Heart Broke In feels epic to me. As James Meek homes in on a handful of people around London, putting a magnifying glass on their lives and relationships, he touches on some huge themes: morality and ethics, loyalty and betrayal, forgiveness, immortality, religion, science, love, time, human connection. But instead of being tediously ponderous on these heavy subjects, Meek wraps this exploration into a compelling drama (celebrities! crazy tabloid website! affairs!) that had me turning the pa ...more
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
...more
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The Curious Bibli...: DISCUSSION: The Heart Broke In 5 14 Nov 16, 2012 09:42PM  
  • The Optimists
  • Like a House on Fire
  • The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets
  • Life! Death! Prizes!
  • My Hundred Lovers
  • The Collective
  • Mountains of the Moon
  • Snake Ropes
  • The Notable Brain of Maximilian Ponder
  • Blue
  • The Deadman's Pedal
  • The Bellwether Revivals
  • The Professor of Truth
  • Zoo Time
  • The Mountain
  • A Naked Singularity
  • Constance Ring
  • Sufficient Grace
“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
More quotes…