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 dumplings and champagne. The evening shines with the heady optimism of a progressive new millennium. A young man, Ben, meets a young woman, Kate—and they begin to fall in love.
From their first meeting, Ben knows Kate is unworldly and fanciful, so at first he isn’t that concerned when she tells him about the recurring dream she’s had since childhood. In the dream, she’s transported to the past, where she lives a second life as Emilia, the mistress of a nobleman in Elizabethan England.
But for Kate, the dream becomes increasingly real and compelling until it threatens to overwhelm her life. And soon she’s waking from it to find the world changed—pictures on her wall she doesn’t recognize, new buildings in the neighborhood that have sprung up overnight. As she tries to make sense of what’s happening, Ben worries the woman he’s fallen in love with is losing her grip on reality.
Transporting the reader between a richly detailed past and a frighteningly possible future, The Heavens is a powerful reminder of the consequences of our actions, a poignant testament to how the people we love are destined to change, and a masterful exploration of the power of dreams.
approx. 272 pages
Out February 12, 2019
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
This book roars with complexity. The plot is so deep and so tangled up in knots that the reader must really pay attention to the little details in order to unravel it. That is itself is both taxing and brilliant but then the author throws in mind-boggling concepts of history repeating itself, reincarnation, past lives affecting the present and sooooo much more, I needed to take notes. It was at this point I felt I was back in English Lit classes again. However, I persevered.
To make matters worse, or even more brilliant, the author decides to add a possibility of mental illness, enabling relationships, crazy-ass behaviors and a coming train wreck that you just can’t look away from.
When I finished reading this, I closed the book and thought, what the hell was that? The story haunted me for several days afterward. I found myself constantly thinking of the perplexing nature of the character development that kept colliding with switching settings between time-periods. When trying to deal with all that life threw at the characters, they had shadowed unexplainable mysteries to deal with too. This is called a time-slip novel, yet it felt more like plunging into the psychological twistings of a fractured mind.
I know they say love heals all, but why did Newman make it seem like so much work? It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. I was frustrated and agitated by it, yet, I couldn’t put it down. She created a brilliant house of cards then swept it all aside revealing cracks and slipways that allowed the reader to fall through. Did I need to claw my way out by hitching a ride on this impossible journey back to reality? Sometimes, it felt that way. Newman kept you guessing until the brittle end.
Strange wouldn’t begin to explain Newman’s characters. The premise is innovative and troubling, built around history and conflicting often with normalcy. So what did I take away from this work?
Newman’s concept development was so far out there, it was untouchable. She is once again brilliant and seductive with her writing. I can’t even begin to imagine what goes on in her head between novels. I’ll leave that to the specialists. For me, it is a must-read, if you dare.
I gave her book: