ABOUT THE BOOK
Mountweazel n. the phenomenon of false entries within dictionaries and works of reference. Often used as a safeguard against copyright infringement.
Peter Winceworth, a disaffected Victorian lexicographer, inserts false entries into a dictionary – violating and subverting the dictionary’s authority – in an attempt to assert some sense of individual purpose and artistic freedom. In the present day, Mallory, a young overworked and underpaid intern employed by the dictionary’s publishing house, is tasked with uncovering these entries before the work is digitised. As the novel progresses and their narratives combine, as Winceworth imagines who will find his fictional words in an unknown future and Mallory discovers more about the anonymous lexicographer’s life through the clues left in his fictitious entries, both discover how they might negotiate the complexities of an absurd, relentless, untrustworthy, hoax-strewn, undefinable life.
Braiding together contemporary and historical narratives, the novel explores themes of trust, agency and creativity, celebrating the rigidity, fragility and absurdity of language.
PUBLISHED BY William Heinemann Ltd
What a read! It’s an ode to words and those who love them and really appealed to my nit picking mind in using words properly! What they mean, or don’t!, and how they’re used in life and I just adored the characters and escapism of this story! Definitely a book that is a little different than many and an office cat called Tits! Need I say anymore?!
It is a book that picks up on the complexities of language. The quirks of words and their meaning. And the work of lexicographers! Separated by a hundred years, but their methods and personalities are very similar. The modern day lexicographer discovers some anomalies from a previous custodian of the ‘words’ in the book they publish and sets out to track them all down! Not an easy task when they don’t know just how many ‘fake’ words have been created.
I loved both timelines – Peter Winceworth back in 1899 is a wonderful character who feels invisible and struggles with feeling undervalued. So to be rebellious he creates words, knowing that those around him won’t notice but intrigued by those who will pick up on these false entries in the future!
And that honour falls on Mallory, who is working on digitalising the dictionary when the ‘errors’ are spotted. As he looks into the history of the company he is intrigued by the kind of character who would make up words – almost a kindred spirit!
It’s a book that is more than just words though as it concentrates on these quieter characters in their lives and their struggles and emotions. There’s struggles with sexuality, dealing with death threats and the act of creating a character trait for yourself out of boredom and then having to live that lie! It was just one of those books that I found myself totally absorbed in the worlds created, and wishing the words created were real too!!
About the book
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.
Published by Granta
The shiniest of gold covers – I’m in love!!
And as for the contents of the book, it’s one of those that I think leaves you thinking more once you’ve finished it as you process what you’ve just experienced as that is how it has made me feel! I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Kate who is a dreamer – literally! – and seems to drift through her life with no real purpose, other than to interpret the dreams she has as her own personal quest to help save the world!
If that sounds mad it is, but the way the book is written leaves it up to the reader to decide if her dreams of her life as Emilia back in the 16th Century in London are just in her head, or actually real. When she wakes she’s always back in New York in the year 2000 and her life is ‘happy’ as she describes it, but not fulfilling. Her friends are all used to her ways but when she starts to return from her dreams and forgets things that have happened, they get frustrated with her and worry if she’s sick .
The relationship with Ben in New York is the thing that makes her dreams seemingly more vivid and real – her senses are more heightened when she’s in love or dealing with a broken heart. He adores her and will always find excuses for her behaviour but soon his patience begins to wear out.
She is convinced that when she is back in the 16th century, when she meets fellow time traveller William Shakespeare, that she must do something to stop bad things happening in the future. Everytime she returns to the ‘now’ something has changed and she’s convinced it is because of something she did back in the other timeline – the butterfly effect. The more she drifts along, the more her friends question her sanity and the more she questions her own purpose and place in the world that she finds herself in, especially when the ‘dream’ world seems so real to her.
I enjoyed the ‘now’ timeline more than going back in time as I just felt more connection with her as a character in those sequence of events as it was more compelling as you watched her become more detached from everything she knew.
A book that makes you ponder and such an intriguing story that is quirky and just that little bit different.