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The Heavens

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  746 ratings  ·  205 reviews
New York, 2000. Kate and Ben meet at a party and fall instantly, irrevocably in love. Around them, the city glows. It is the first year without a war anywhere. A woman is president, and an air of camaraderie permeates the streets of Manhattan. Kate falls asleep, knowing she is loved.

London, 1593. Kate wakes as Emilia - the mistress of a nobleman - and finds the plague at h
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 2nd 2019 by Granta (first published February 12th 2019)
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3.51  · 
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 ·  746 ratings  ·  205 reviews

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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
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
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, netgalley
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
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
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘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
Roman Clodia
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Apr 24, 2019 marked it as interest-piqued  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Lauren Hough
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Matthew Hall
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, fantasy, litty-lit
This book is sad, beautiful, funny, troubling, despondent, hopeful, warm, strangely cold, a little bizarre and eerily prophetic.

It completely fucked me up.
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
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
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Let me tell you a weird story. And it's kind of got something in common with this book.

Two or three days ago I finished a book and fell asleep. Now, I always log my finished books into a doc on my phone, but my phone was off, so I couldn't. So I made myself remember to write it down in the morning. During the day I remembered it in passing and said I will.

Fast forward to two days later, and I can't remember what it was. It's no surprise that I don't, without being prompted – I read like 18 book
A millennial miasma. 3.5*

As this modern-day romance in new millennium New York morphs into a strange world of Elizabethan dream sequences and gossamer Grimm-like fairy tales, the reader is left to ponder what Sandra Newman’s new novel is actually about. Time travel, yes. Mental instability, yes. Apocalyptic warnings, yes. But underneath it all, what?

On the face of it, this is the story of a young man of Indian heritage who falls in love at first sight with a statuesque but rather strange half-Pe
Sayantoni Das
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stories about dreams, love and time have always been a real delight to me and so The Heavens was a much anticipated release of this year. I'm new to Sandra Newman and I'm glad I decided to try. Surely not an ordinary story and definitely not an ordinary writing. Don't get me wrong though, the writing style is pretty placid, easy to understand and comprehend. It is the narrative that surprised me beyond wits.

Kate and Ben meet at a party and fall in love. Things could have been pretty normal if no
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
Kim Lockhart
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saying that this story is unusually imaginative, is the equivalent of saying that it's a Sandra Newman novel. All of her novels are spokes of a multi-textured wheel of ideas, made up of colors no one has ever seen before, and laden with nervous expectation.

At first synoptic glance, this may appear to be nothing more than a vehicle for the Butterfly Effect, but the characters glide on ever-increasing subplots. Scenes, characters and actions are described with the optimal minimum and maximum of pe
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In this surprising and compelling novel, it's the year 2000, and NYC 20-somethings Ben and Kate meet at a party thrown by a wealthy friend, and fall in love. But Kate has a recurring dream where she is actually Emilia, a woman living in England in the 1590s (actually a real person!) and whenever she wakes up from the dream, things are slightly different in the present. But Ben is sure she's mentally ill. Newman's previous novel was The Country of Ice Cream
literally do not know what to do or think or say about this book so i just made a word vomit review video:
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“But something had shifted. She pursued it, saying, “My father was a Jew of Venice. ’Tis true: I am of that hated race.” He said cautiously, “Much evil is spoken of Jews. But men will speak villainously of anything strange. I am sure they say much that is false.” 1 likes
“Because crazy people weren’t weaker than you—he’d often thought this about his mother—they were stronger. They outlasted you, even when they died. They would tread you underfoot without noticing.” 1 likes
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