Cover image for The heavens
Title:
The heavens
ISBN:
9780802129024
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Grove Press, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
257 pages ; 24 cm
Summary:
"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."-- Provided by publisher.
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On Order

Summary

Summary

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.

Kate lives with her head in the clouds, so at first Ben 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, to the point where 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 Kate tries to make sense of what's happening, Ben worries the woman he's fallen in love with is losing her grip on reality.

Both intoxicating and thought-provoking, 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.


Author Notes

Sandra Newman is the author of the novels The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done , shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, Cake , and The Country of Ice Cream Star , longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction and named one of the best books of the year by the Washington Post and NPR. She is the author of the memoir Changeling as well as several other nonfiction books. Her work has appeared in Harper's and Granta , among other publications. She lives in New York City.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Newman's stellar novel (following The Country of Ice Cream Star), a woman's ability to travel back in time in dreams-specifically, to 16th-century Britain-morphs into a world-altering liability. Kate, an art school dropout living in Brooklyn in 2000, has since childhood entered alternate worlds as she sleeps; but the dreams shift and intensify when, in her 20s, she meets and begins dating Ben, a grounded PhD student. Almost nightly Kate becomes Emilia, a pregnant Italian Jew from a family of court musicians, who escapes plague-ridden London in search of a means to save mankind. When Emilia becomes acquainted with melancholy actor Will, the resulting butterfly effect alters countless details of the present, from the president to the death of Ben's mother. As Kate's dream relationship with Will becomes increasingly involved (and hers with Ben twists into something strained and painful) visions of a post-apocalyptic world pepper her thoughts. While the world shifts, Kate must untangle the significance of her dreams and their implications for the future. Newman's novel expertly marries historical and contemporary, plumbing the rich, all-too-human depths of present-day New York and early modern England, and racing toward a well-executed peak. But it's the evolution of Kate and Ben's relationship that serves as the book's emotional anchor, making for a fantastic, ingenious novel. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Ben meets Kate in August 2000 at a party in the opulent Manhattan apartment of her rich friend, Sabine. He's half Bengali and half Jewish, and she's Hungarian-Turkish-Persian. He learns from the start that she doesn't live entirely in the real world. As their relationship blossoms, she tells him of her dreams in which she time travels to England in 1593, where she is a black woman, Emilia, mistress to a nobleman, and in both personas, she believes she has something important to do to save the world. But Ben can put up with Kate's worlds for only so long, until her mental illness, which isn't easily treatable, becomes apparent, reminding him of his mother, who committed suicide in a psych ward when he was 13. The narrative toggles between the modern and Elizabethan ages, with vivid accounts of the latter including Emilia's growing relationship with Will Shakespeare, and snaps back to Ben's reality on 9/11. In this tender love story, Newman ponders the impact of individual action on the world as she creates alternative universes, realities, even endings. Fiction as provocative as it is ambiguous.--Michele Leber Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Ben and Kate meet and fall in love at a party in New York City at the turn of the current millennium, in what seems like our world but slightly altered for the better-more affluent, hopeful, and under the leadership of an environmentally friendly female president. Kate, who has dreamed since childhood about being a different person asleep in an alternate reality, begins to awaken in this dreamscape, in which she is a noblewoman in Elizabethan England, friend and then lover of a little-known poet named William Shakespeare. Somehow these dream escapades, fully realized and corporeal, start affecting her daytime existence, and she wakes up every day in a slightly worse iteration of the world, in which her "false" memories of concurrent realities deem her insane. Newman (The Country of Ice Cream Star) neatly manages the uneasy feat of pulling off a historical novel featuring both William Shakespeare and Alexander the Great, foreshadowing the action with ­philosophical musings on the butterfly effect and the Great Man theory of history. VERDICT A thought-provoking, head-spinning fever dream of a novel; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 9/24/18.]-Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Ben met Kate at a rich girl's party. He didn't know the rich girl personally; it was one of those parties where no one knew the hostess. He'd come with the rich girl's cousin's co-worker, whom he instantly lost in the crowd. It had started out as a dinner party, but the invitations proliferated, spreading epidemically through friends of friends until it turned into a hundred people. So the rich girl opened up both floors, made punch instead of risotto, and ordered a thousand dumplings from a Chinese restaurant. It was August and you had to let things happen the way they wanted to happen. Everyone was in their twenties then, anyway, so that was how they thought. It turned out to be a mostly francophone party, conversational and quiet; a party with the windows open to the night, a party where people sat talking on the floor. Most of the illumination was from solar-powered tea lights, which the rich girl had hung on the fire escapes all day to charge, then pasted along the walls. That light reflected softly from the heavy glass tumblers into which wine was poured. There wasn't even music playing. The rich girl said it gave her bad dreams. 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. Excerpted from The Heavens by Sandra Newman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.