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Episode Discussions > Episode 75 - Fiction Uncovered

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Simon described James Meek 'The Heart Broke In' as a book about siblings one of whom is a rock star. Whilst there is nothing inaccurate in that description, having recently finished the book I can report that there is a lot more to it than that. There are actually two sets of siblings at the centre of this novel: in addition to 'rock star' Ritchie and his sister Bec, there is also Alex, former drummer in Richie's teenage band, and Alex's brother Dougie. Both Bec and Alex are scientists, and with Alex's scientist uncle also featuring, one can see that both sides of the 'Two Cultures' are prominently represented here. Lots of things happen, and the issues examined included nothing less than the meaning of life.

Yes, I was initially put-off a little by Ritchie, as we seem to have had a lot of his type of character in literature in recent years - I was reminded for example of Dexter in 'One Day'. Similarly, I was also deterred a little by the explicit nature of some of the scenes, although they certainly add to the intensity of the novel and are relevant given that reproduction is one of its themes.

Those quibbles aside, I found this an enthralling read. It is very timely given the recent sex scandals involving celebrities, although the book must have been in production by the time these scandals started to snowball in late 2012. The phone hacking scandal would have been at its height when the novel was being written and may well have influenced its depiction of the moralising tabloid press, for The Heart Broke In is not just about what happens in private but also about the public consequences of private betrayal.

There is humour, of a sort, too. When Alex is revealled to have acted improperly, I found it amusing that his scientific colleagues seem more concerned by his amending an academic article to please his uncle than with something of possibly far greater impact that he does to the same uncle (obviously I have to be a bit vague there to avoid a spoiler).

I enjoyed it more and more the further through it I progressed, although that may be less an indication that the second half is better and more a sign of how we can be in a better mood for certain books on different days. The ending is well-done too - the karaoke is a nice touch.

I hope these comments have helped other listeners to The Readers decide whether this is a book they would like to read. If the other books on the Fiction Uncovered list are as good then they must be worth investigating. I will, though, take some persuading to read the one without capital letters or standard punctuation. Whilst this approach may be a more accurate way of depicting the life of an uneducated character, it is the sort of device that I find off-putting.

message 2: by Simon (new)

Simon (savidgereads) | 449 comments Mod
Oops that is me told. Ha! Though as we did state it is only our first impressions of the books and that has been mine with the Meek. That said you sell it rather well. The whole band thing still bothers me. Though as I love Fiction Uncovered I may well end up reading it.

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