The Heart Broke in Hardback
by James Meek
Would you betray your lover to give them what they wanted? Bec Shepherd is a malaria researcher struggling to lead a good life.
Ritchie, her reprobate brother, is a rock star turned TV producer.
When Bec refuses an offer of marriage from a powerful newspaper editor and Ritchie's indiscretions catch up with him, brother and sister are forced to choose between loyalty and betrayal. The Heart Broke In is an old-fashioned story of modern times, a rich, ambitious family drama of love, death and money in the era of gene therapy and internet blackmail.
From the author of the 'spellbinding' (Guardian), 'quite extraordinary' (Philip Pullman), 'startlingly original' (Mail on Sunday) novel, The People's Act of Love
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 560 pages
- Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 30/08/2012
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780857862907
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Review by psutto
Ritchie is a former rock star turned TV star and his sister, Bec, is a Malaria researcher and the story intertwines, knots, unravels, weaves and spins around and through them. Ritchie has an affair with a 15 year old star of his X-Factor like TV show and will do anything to keep this fact from breaking up his family. Bec infects herself with a parasite in order to study the immunity to Malaria an obscure tribe has. Notionally they are opposite ends of the moral scale however Meek does muddy the waters considerably. Once Bec ends her engagement with a newspaper magnate, from a daily Mail like rag, she makes an enemy for herself and her brother. Further plot is provided by a backstory in which their father is executed by the IRA when they are young children, and how this affects both their lives, and through a number of friends and family who intersect with the main story. This is a story about love, betrayal, honour, faith versus reason, guilt, shame and sibling rivalry. Meek has a cast of mostly unlikable characters but still makes you care what happens to them which is a rare touch and although the denouement and coda are a little weak when compared to the meat of the text it was still a satisfying read. The science versus religion was a bit ham handed also with ultra-atheist versus fundamental Christian which made it a little dull, and felt a little stale and this aspect should have been far more interesting. For these reasons this is a 4 star read for me but one I’d unhesitatingly recommend.Overall – A large book (550 pages) with large themes