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The Heavens by Sandra Newman

The Heavens by Sandra Newman
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£12.99

Sandra Newman’s ambitious fourth novel is a time-travelling fantasy set between Noughties America and Elizabethan England, said Emma Jane Unsworth in The Guardian. In New York, two twentysomethings, Ben and Kate, meet at a party and fall in love. However, problems soon surface as a result of Kate’s “very active dream life”. When she sleeps, she often “wakes up” in 1593 London, as Emilia, the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Moreover, her actions in the past have an impact on history, subtly altering the present she returns to. “It’s one heck of a pitch” and could easily have seemed “gimmicky”. Yet Newman makes the whole thing “seamless – not to mention lots of fun”.

Newman is a hugely versatile writer, whether indulging her “talent for Elizabethan bawdy” or capturing the “urbane banter” of her modern-day characters, said Johanna Thomas-Corr in The Sunday Times. At the level of the sentence, this is a work of “intricate beauty”. But in a larger sense, its narrative “lacks emotional contours”. For all its cleverness, The Heavens “never transcends its agglomeration of whimsy”.