For most of my readers, I’m sure that like me you will more than likely be facing some sort of lockdown in your country due to the worldwide pandemic of the Coronavirus. If you are still working, a big big thank you to the essential services you are providing, whether that be in supermarket supply chain, retail, health care or social care. We couldn’t do this without you!
I have been working from home for the last two weeks as I’m fortunate enough to be able to do so, and have been making the most of the 1 hour authorised outside exercise time we have per day in the UK. I have colleagues in other countries without this luxury, so I know that like many of you, I’m really feeling much more appreciative of the outdoor space and fresh air than ever before.
This is the first full weekend in lockdown, I’ve so far painted my bathroom and my kitchen cabinets, and it is only 6pm on Saturday! I’m having a ‘motivated’ kind of day (I mean I’ve barely got dressed for most of this week so this is an achievement!), so I thought id finally get caught up with some of my reviews I’ve been waiting to share with you!
THE HEAVENS, BY SANDRA NEWMAN
First of all, I absolutely ADORE this cover. I honestly think it is stunning and so eye-catching on the shelf. The design clearly shows that we would be taken to New York City (by the twin towers) and also to some place in history by the shape of the houses on the scene below. I bought this book because my friend asked me for it for Christmas, and after reading the blurb I thought ‘I have to read this!’.
A Story of Love
Complicated by Time Travel
Now if you’ve read any of my other reviews or you follow my IG (@papyrusandpeppermint) then you’ll know that I love novels based around time travel.
The story begins in 2000 in New York City, where we are introduced to Ben and Kate’s love story within the very first sentence of the very first page. Ben and Kate meet at a rich girl’s party (as you’d expect in New York City) and we see how their love develops quickly. New York in this part of the story is quite free spirited, no-one seems to work (besides Ben) and the first female president position is about to be taken by a senator who is a member of the Green Party. To many therefore, this would be idylicc (to me, unrealistic, how is everyone feeding themselves!).
However Kate has a problem.. often she will go to sleep and awake as Emilia, a mistress in London in 1593. It’s been going on as a reccuring dream since childhood, but now things have taken a different turn. Whatever she does in her dreams seems to have a knock on effect in her waking life in New York and this never is with a positive impact. New buildings pop up around her, social situations change, people become mentally unwell, her president is not about to be a female and noone cares for the environment.
Kate slowly becomes assured that she is ruining the world every night she returns to her life in the 1500s. Ben thinks she is losing her grip on reality, for he cannot remember the day yesterday as she describes it – to him, as it is today is the way it has been for some time.
The plot is difficult to describe because it is constantly shifting, but the focus is on time travel and mental health.
Whilst I really wanted to love this book, I’m afraid to say I was super disappointed. The 1500s element was very weak, I felt like it was written almost as an afterthought. As a Brit I felt that the description of England was taken straight from a TV series..it wasn’t very gritty and didn’t have much description. I was flipping between 1593 and 2000 and didn’t really feel that anything had much happened in the 1500s that could possibly have had such a negative impact in 2000. I understand that the whole idea is re-incarnation and the butterfly effect, but I expected something stronger.
Also, Newman seemed to do the usual time-travel writer thing of making their protagonist become friends with or know William Shakespeare… it worked for me in Matt Haig’s ‘How to Stop Time’ but I didn’t feel it worked well enough here – he could have been anybody and just felt like name dropping.
If this book had been written with the past with a much stronger narrative and character definition within Emilia, I think I would probably have enjoyed it a little more. The ending I felt was risky in terms of whether it would cheapened a majorly traumatic event, but I felt it worked- just.
Having discussed the book with my friend who I purchased the book for, she also felt that the book was disjointed when flipping backwards and forward. It was difficult to follow and remember what was happening in each time point. It was also difficult to know the characters well enough because they constantly changed.
CAN’T PUT IT DOWN RATING: 2.5/5
I actually feel like this would be a good film, I think the idea was brilliant, I’m just uncertain about the quality of the execution. I was reading always with the hope that the past would become more exciting, but I’m afraid for me it really did not.
If you are interested in books about history and enjoy a sci-fi/time travel based novel, please give it a go if you haven’t read it already. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
WHERE TO BUY:
So obviously I’d normally point you to your local book store but that’s off the cards right now (I can’t wait to go back to a books and mortar store!!), so here’s a selection of places you can get your hands on a copy online and their prices.
Amazon: £7.37 (Paperback)
Waterstones: £12.99 (Hardback)
You can also preview the book to see if it is for you before ordering: here
WASHED DOWN WITH:
I washed this particular book down with lots and lots of coffee served by the lovely Planet Coffee in Hull. It’s my favourite spot to read alone, meet my friends or stuff my face with dairy free goodies. If you’re fortunate enough to be in the area at any time, please please check this coffee shop out. It’s like walking into your living room and has an amazing vibe. It’s loved by many and I can’t wait to spend a quiet morning there in the future.
I’d like to wish you all safety and good health, both physically and mentally. For many it’s tough, having freedom restricted and major changes to our living situations and routines is hard. Personally my saviour is exercise and books, so I’ll be reading as much as I can and will of course share with you the ones I read as I go.
If you are also reading, what are you currently reading and what are you looking forward to buying ?
But of course, if the most you or I have managed to do is get up and get dressed some days, that’s also ok.
I know there’s a lot of pressure at the moment on social media to ‘achieve’ big things during lockdown, and honestly, this isn’t the right time for such bullshit.