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The Heavens

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3.45  ·  Rating details ·  1,402 ratings  ·  314 reviews
A work of rare literary brilliance and emotional power, The Heavens is a mesmerizing novel of love and time, of dreams and politics, that asks how we come to inhabit our world

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 dumpling
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272 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Grove Atlantic
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3.45  · 
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 ·  1,402 ratings  ·  314 reviews


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Rachel
The Heavens is essentially Sandra Newman's novelized meditation on the Great Man Theory - the idea that history has been shaped by a few influential individuals. Kate, a young woman living in New York City in the early 2000s, believes she's one such person, as she has dreams which propel her into a past timeline where she lives as a mistress in Elizabethan England. When she wakes up, she begins to notice that details about her life have changed overnight, and as she becomes increasingly convince ...more
Marchpane
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having seen a few lukewarm reviews of The Heavens , my expectations were duly lowered. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this literary/historical/time-travel mashup.

Kate visits the past in her dreams. 16th century England to be specific. But each time she wakes, in early 2000’s New York, the world around her is a little different. Kate’s the only one who notices the changes and her family and friends think she is losing her grip on reality.

In the original timeline, in the year 2000, the wor
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Sara
Nov 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Heavens is such a difficult book to review, as it spans several genres and is rather different to anything I’ve read before. The basic synopsis is centred around Kate and Ben, who meet in the year 2000 and fall in love. This is a 2000 that’s like our own, yet different in many subtle yet significant ways. It soon becomes apparent that Kate is just as ‘different’, as she explains that she often dreams of a previous life in Eliza
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Gumble's Yard
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
As a youngster, one of my favourite short stories and one that has stuck with me 40 years later is Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder” (available in PDF at the link below).

https://web1.nbed.nb.ca/sites/ASD-S/1...

In the story time travel is used to facilitate dinosaur hunting – the stories protagonist, travelling back on the day of a Presidential election (in which a liberal candidate defeated a right wing populist) inadvertently crushes a butterfly and returns to the present day only to find o
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Peter Boyle
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Three stars? Get off the fence, Peter! But the thing is I don't really know how to rate this book. I've never read anything like it and it's hard to say how much I truly enjoyed it.

It's quite a tricky plot to summarise, but here goes. The couple at its centre meet at a party in New York, one night in the year 2000. Ben, a PhD student, immediately falls in love with Kate, even though her friends warn him about her eccentricities. They begin a whirlwind romance and move in together. The strangest
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Paul Fulcher
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, net-galley
The Heavens begins in 2000 in an idealised New York, a female progressive on her way to the Presidency, narrated from the perspective of Ben who meets and falls in love with Kate:

"New York City, so everyone was interning at a Condé Nast publication or a television program or the UN. Everyone a little in love with each other; the year 2000 in the affluent West.
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For the rest of his life, he would remember it: that intoxicated moment not only of first love but of universal hope, that summer when
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jo
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i read this via an arc from netgalley and have been thinking long and hard about how to write about it, and haven't come up with a good plan. it's hard to say anything about this book without giving it away, but let me try.

first of all, the easy part: the writing is amazing. if you have read The Country of Ice Cream Star, you already know that sandra newman is a language wizard. in this book, which is divided between present-time and in-the-past chapters, the wizardry is most prominent in the s
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Ana
Reading Sandra Newman’s The Heavens felt like reading the first draft of a novel with a very bold premise, which is what kept me going when I knew I should have stopped. I’m not talking about the editing, because the writer couldn’t help adverbising every freaking verb and poorly-chosen adjective, or couldn’t decide what kind of information and from whose PoV goes into those brackets. Although, seriously: “Ben thought as he torpidly watched,” “the cat meowed peevishly,” “the cat meowed again p ...more
Eric Anderson
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sandra Newman’s “The Heavens” begins like a quaint modern love story about two individuals named Kate and Ben who meet at a “rich girl’s party” in New York City in the year 2000, but it steadily turns into a highly innovative and entertaining meditation on time, psychology, memory, reality, ambition and destiny. When Kate goes to sleep she finds her mind has melded with that of Emilia Lanier, the Elizabethan-era poet, member of the minor gentry and the person some scholars speculate to be the “D ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
I love time travel novels. This one was challenging and somewhat sad, though, because it’s not an optimistic book. Kate travels in her dreams from modern-day America to 16th century England. When she wakes, her present has changed, often in tragic ways. She tries to change the future in her dreams, but can’t seem to change the ultimate fate of the world. 3.5⭐ ...more
Joseph
Whittling down the plot of “The Heavens” to its bare bones makes it sound incomprehensible, if not downright silly. However, I’ll try to do it justice with as few spoilers as possible.

The novel’s “present” is set in New York around the year 2000. Except it’s not the city as we know it, but one which is different in subtle yet significant ways. A female, environmentalist President has been elected, it’s “the first year with no war at all” and there’s a general sense of utopian optimism. In other
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marilyn
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
The Heavens is a very different kind of book. There is the present day and then, through the dreams of Kate, we are placed in the past. But things get even more complicated than that because every time that Kate wakes again, in the present, things that she's done in the past, have made changes, big and small, to the present.

I enjoyed the parts of the book that were in the present but when Kate would go back to the past, things really bogged down for me. The manner of speaking of the past made r
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Neil
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2018
I received an email from Granta Books offering me the chance to read an early copy of this book based, they said, on my "thoughtful and perceptive" reviews of other books they have published. Feeling slightly smug, I downloaded a copy even though it didn’t really sound like the kind of book I would normally read.

Having now completed it, I can say for certain that it is NOT the kind of book I would normally read. But the good news is that doesn’t mean I regret it.

The difficulty with reviewing thi
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Sanjida
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An homage to Le Guin's Lathe of Heaven crossed with Palmer's Version Control, carried aloft by Newman's fluidity with language and genre. So really I never had any chance of not falling hard.

The perfect last words subvert your understanding of what this book is about. For one who feels like the last several years have been a dream, that this timeline is all wrong, this story shows a path out. It felt like therapy.

Somehow my favorite books are always poorly rated in this app. So if you, like me,
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Anna
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘The Heavens’ was an unusual reading experience that defied my initial expectations. At first I found it hard to enjoy, then as it went on I liked it more and more. The ending is rather brilliant. I have complained before about novels that use dystopian and/or apocalyptic elements as scene-setting for rather uninspired romances (sf California, Gold Fame Citrus). By contrast, here romance acts as a framing device for a compelling story about parallel realities, reminding me of the wonderful Woman ...more
Lori
I read and loved Sandra's The Country of Ice Cream Star. From the setting to the characters to the intricate and refreshing dialouge... it was brilliantly executed.

Having read the description for The Heavens, I knew it was going to be a completely different animal altogether, but it sounded promising nonetheless - in an alternate version of NYC, a young woman dreams she is transported back in time and befriends a young William Shakespeare. Each time she awakens, she picks up on small, though no
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Roman Clodia
This is a hard book to review without giving away not so much the plot as my interpretation of it... (view spoiler) which, from the reviews, rather differs from the way others have read it.

On the surface, this is a book about time travel, saving the world, and dreaming an alternative life as Emilia Lanier (erroneously, again, represented as Shakespeare's 'dark lady' and inspiration for various play characters - in rea
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Bookworm
This was a story that I had a very difficult time engaging with. The writing didn’t work for me as it felt disjointed and jumped around too much. My favorite reads tend to evoke strong emotional reactions through their character development or plot. The Heavens lacked that emotional impact. I couldn’t relate to the characters - Kate in particular -which made it challenging to care about her. When I first requested this book, I was expecting a different sort of read in which the main character wa ...more
Janet
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019tbr
When I heard this novel was about time travel and had gotten rave reviews from critics I was “on board”. What self professed Outlander fan wouldn’t want to read it?
Let’s just say I was profoundly disappointed.

First, Newman’s strength lies in her knowledge of and writing about England during the time of the Renaissance….that and she can write some luminous prose. But I found her characterizations weak, her plot unfathomable and her time travel device had more holes in it than a piece of Swiss che
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Aerin
Apr 24, 2019 marked it as interest-piqued
I didn't know Newman had a new book out! And the premise looks super intriguing!

Her The Country of Ice Cream Star is a postapocalyptic masterpiece that doesn't get nearly enough love, and How Not to Write a Novel made me laugh for days.
Lauren Hough
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been trying to come up with words to say about this delightfully weird, dark, romantic novel about time travel or madness in a utopia or a dystopia with Shakespeare and mail order brides, this novel I nearly sped through. Then I realized I was down to 70-odd pages. I rationed those like this was the last novel. Ever. Five a night. No, five isn’t enough. Ten. Then it was over. I still can’t think of the words. I’m just thankful I get to live in the same timeline as Sandra Newman.
Vivek Tejuja
Apr 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Heavens is the kind of book that gets under your skin only if you allow it to. In the sense that you have to be prepared for it, read it slowly, take in what Newman has to offer, and then be enthralled by its worlds, characters, and their lives. I don’t even know how to categorize this book – what does one call it? Historical fiction? Contemporary? Fantasy? Come to think of it, I shall not call it anything but a novel that will charm, beguile, and leave you a little bit breathless.

I hadn’t r
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Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
More truly 3.5*

There is no denying the poise of Sandra Newman’s The Heavens. She tells this story of time travel, mental illness and apocalypse with a spare confidence that I couldn’t help but admire. The writing reflects the style and tone of the story, sometimes fragmented, sometimes fluent. It was thoughtful about the human capacity for change and about the great men theory of history.

But it’s dreamlike quality meant that I found it difficult to believe in the reality of the central characte
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ABCme
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
The third attempt finally seemed to get me going. But not for long. This book just didn't make sense to me.

Ben meets Kate at a rich girls party. They fall in love and pretty soon are living together.
Kate has dreams that take her back to 1593 plague ridden London, where she has an important role to fulfill in her Italian family.
Her daytime in New York is occupied by her night time dreams. Is this going anywhere other than now and then?

I wanted to understand the story but I felt like an outside
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Sabrina
I don't really know how I feel about this novel, but ultimately, I don't feel much of anything. I think the novel suffered due to its length, leaving both the present and dream timelines feeling thin. I wanted a better understanding and exploration of both worlds. I understand that Newman was probably trying to go for a dreamy feeling, and to leave things up to the imagination, but she didn't give me enough as a reader to really chew on. I also didn't find myself invested in the core relationshi ...more
Matthew Hall
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is sad, beautiful, funny, troubling, despondent, hopeful, warm, strangely cold, a little bizarre and eerily prophetic.

It completely fucked me up.
Jan
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
A different sort if time travel story. I liked the way it portrayed the reactions of present-day friends, but the overall plot seemed, um, diffuse, you could say. Or a hot mess if you’re feeling uncharitable. Also, does every time traveler have to meet up with Will Shakespeare? I get that Newman needed some way to show past actions altering the course of history, but this just seemed too cliched.
Samantha
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I know, I know: in my last review, I wrote how The New Me was my favorite novel to be released so far in 2019. But now, having read The Heavens, Sandra Newman's novel has to snag that top spot. When it rains it pours! There are some great books coming out this year and I feel lucky to be reading them. The Heavens is a standout! It's a spectacular work of speculative fiction and I can't recommend it enough. It's a novel to get lost in, to live in. I loved this book so much.

Ben and Kate meet at a
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Holly
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
I'm thinking it's probably best to not try to figure this all out; to not push too hard for coherence. It's an alternative history - time travel - romance - climate fiction - doomsday novel. I thought of Time Traveler's Wife, French Lieutenant's Woman, Life after Life . . . but it's still something else. I enjoyed the quasi-contemporary New York City setting(s) and just when the quirky characters and clubby atmosphere start to grate on my nerves, things move increasingly off-kilter . . . - until ...more
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