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With the new millennium approaching the eccentric town of Thebes grows even stranger Mrs Leontina Scales begins speaking in tongues after being clocked by a Catholic statuette Her daughter Tabitha and her sons scheme to save their mother or surrender her to Jesus—whatever comes first Meanwhile choir director Jeremy Carr caught between lust and ambition fumbles his way toward Y2K The ancient Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries join with a gay singing group The Radical Radiants battle the Catholics A Christmas pageant goes horribly awry And a child is born

10 thoughts on “The Next ueen of Heaven

  1. says:

    This novel is an embarrassment the euivalent of catching Gregory Maguire picking his nose at a stop light Too harsh? Hey he started it On page 332 Hogan picked his nose and flicked it at Kirk's bouffant where it stuck and hung like a little worm That's pretty much the juvenile tone throughout the book You know a book is going to be bad when the author apologizes for it in the Author's Note For readers who know me primarily as a writer of fantasy the setting and subject matter and the vernacular spoken by characters herein may come as surprise Forgive me my trespasses A surprise? Try major disappointment And it's almost as if everyone including the publisher knows it It seems this book was first published and distributed FREE to 2500 people by a press that asked recipients to make a donation to a favorite charity in return Apparently 40000 was given to charities an average of 16 per donation the cost of a trade paperback They were lucky Had the publisher asked each recipient to donate the value of his reading experience it might have averaged 2 centsWhat's it about? The plot has to do with Y2K and religion and this crazy thing called love but what's it ABOUT? As in what might be discussed in a book club? I haven't the foggiest The characters are over the top the situations loony the conflicts juvenile Sorry you guys I loved WICKED too But mostly this book is just silly often profane not that there's anything wrong with that and at times gross Once in a while Maguire does something Tom Robbins like with language and I smiled in spite of myself But those moments are few and do not save the dayNext time when donating to charity I hope Maguire pulls from his wallet rather than his junior high school locker Because if you give a publisher a book like this apologize for it then tell them they can distribute it for FREE you're going to lose your reader's respect and maybe their loyalty too Then no amount of blurbs with adjectives like daring eccentric out of control or once in a lifetime are going to get them back

  2. says:

    I must admit I'm a complete sucker for books that are set in small towns If I hear about a book or read the blurb on the back cover and it says something along the lines of A group of characters live in a small town called X and X happens to them well chances are the money is already leaving my wallet and the book is coming home with me Perhaps it's because I grew up in a small town myself so I'm naturally drawn to these things Whatever the case with my affinity for these small town books Gregory Maguire has written perhaps his most understated and ambitious novel since Wicked in The Next ueen of Heaven and it’s set in of course a small town called Thebes in upstate New York Themes such as heartbreak faith and homosexuality are present here and Maguire doesn’t pull any stops when it comes to displaying modern society and notions of religion in all its passion and irony The book has virtually everything you could want in a novel that uses a small town setting a cast of believable and amusing characters themes that anyone who grew up in a small town could probably relate to and to top it all off the novel is set during the Christmas season What's not to like about that? This isn't to say the book is perfect I actually found myself embroiled in an internal debate halfway through of whether I was going to give it two stars or three stars or even finish it for that matter due to some slower parts in the middle Thankfully I did finish it and the ending was complete and satisfying and answered any lingering uestions I had regarding the book's ultimate message Maguire isn't always the clearest about what's going on in his pages though I suppose that's what comes with his poetic and sometimes indistinct style Thankfully Maguire's two protagonists the high school age Tabitha and Jeremy a lovesick gay twenty something male are strong believable and relatable Tabitha is dealing with her own teenage rebellion and hopeless love lust for a wild loser while caring for her ailing and addled mother and Jeremy is facing his own set of internal issues namely a friend dying of AIDs and an old lover who lives close by and is now married I won't spoil anything but there is a chapter of unreuited tragic love that is particularly well written and memorable and the ending of the book is perhaps one of my favorite Maguire endings ever There's really not much to not like about The Next ueen of Heaven It's a fun festive book that doesn't take itself too seriously while at the same time tackling many many complicated religious and societal issues If you like Gregory Maguire or any of the themes I mentioned above chances are you'll like this one

  3. says:

    This book was fantastic and is now one of my favourites I've even gone back to read certain sections again something I rarely if ever do It was a joy to read it I loved the characters the small town setting the plots This book was very real with real life difficulties which made the characters crystal clear and believable They also had very believable flaws which made them human Painfully so Yet their perspectives are told with their each uniue brand of humor that what would be a sad book is transformed into something poignant instead And also something very very funny This book has many laugh out loud moments It's the best sort of comedy its embedded and real life has bite This is a book of deep feeling and introspection It's not a 'church' book but it is about people's relationship to the spiritual It does take a critical look at people's hypocrisies Beneath the rather 'mundane' look at 'ordinary lives' it's philosophical This is perhaps the greatest comparison I can make between this and the other book I've read by this author Wicked Both have this uestioning philosophical base But this book is 'wickedly funny' and modern while Wicked was serious though no less fabulous and fantasy basedIt's very character driven I absolutely adored the character Jeremy He's got to be the best gay character in straight fiction since Jules Cassidy Suzanne Brockman's Force of Nature I loved him and I loved the choice he made at the end You know you've read a great book when you think about the characters long after and wonder what happens to them after the book ends as if they were real people PS I just read over some of the other reviews and I'm uite baffled at the level of dislike in some of them I'm usually a pretty good judge of bad writing and bad books Am I so off the mark here? Or is it because I don't really 'know' his other works so this is something fairly fresh to me and I don't have a lot of comparison? I didn't go into it with a lot of expectation I don't know But it is strange at how many people found it tedious or not funny Maybe I was just in the right mood for it Personally I thought it was great

  4. says:

    So who is the next ueen of Heaven? Let's see I don't know even minutes after finishing this 1999 novel of Gregory Maguire I loved all his other books the Wicked series Lost MirrorMirror etc but this tome is a puzzle I laughed often and hard albeit at often crudelewdrude comments and characterizations I loved the Catholics of Our Lady in sort of cahoots with members of the Pentecostal Radical Radiants but my favorites were the 70 yo nuns led by Sister Mother Clare; Jeremy the conflicted gay choir leader and his friend Marty; and Tabitha the supposed local slut I hate that word and her newly discovered pregnancy Tabitha and her brothers have to care for their mother thrice marriedafter she's cold conked by a statue of Mary in the Catholic church while stealing milk for Sunday service at the Pentecostal church next door Mom is returned to reality after being conked again by a creche Jesus during Christmas serviceWriting about this is hard There are too many characters too many intersecting plot lines too much that's crudely funny too much semi philosophical uestions about Y2K millenial nutso stuff AIDS Catholicism love betweenamong folks of all sorts and escape Kind of sacred and very profane Perhaps a uotation might help me clarify my dogged confusionIn describing the creche in the 34th chapter The Virgin and Joseph knelt a good three feet high The shepherds and wise men stood smaller a tautological distinctionand the wise men were bracingly multiracial One of them glared with ovoid eyes a cross between Krishna and Dracula; another was black and shiny as a Steinway; the third resembled an anthropomorphized aubergineJeremy got the feeling that beneath the robes the shepherds were wearing ceramic pajamas printed all over with Bart SimpsonMoments reminiscent of Tom Robbins Moments reminiscent of the better G Maguire?I gave it a 4 but only for piecesmoments?

  5. says:

    I consider myself a Maguire fan based on my enjoyment of a number of previous books Wicked of course but I think that Ugly Stepsister was monumentally good This book I confess that I gave up after 100 pages Perhaps it gets better after that but I won't be around to find out I'm being selfish I didn't care about anyone in the book I wasn't curious about what happened next I kind of felt like I was reading about Liir or Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh But in the end I felt like Tabitha and Jeremy were the authors of their own discontent and that my support and encouragement would serve no constructive purpose Maybe next time

  6. says:

    The only other Maguire novel I've read is his now legendary Wicked The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West 20 years ago when I was a callow graduate student at UCLA I remember liking it for the subversive revision of the children's classic than for any other reason I enjoy that kind of literature Jason Medeia The Looking Glass Wars Gloriana Or The Unfulfill'd ueen King Jesus A Novel et alWhen I read the blurb for this novel I expected something along the lines of James Morrow but got Miriam Toews insteadThis isn't a bad thing I like Ms Toews In fact I like her than I do Maguire so I wasn't disappointed much There's much to like in this novel but nothing that's particularly great A lot of the characters are stock types you find in novels of this kind and the story can be formulaic Maguire's worst offense in this regard IMO is the plotline involving Jeremy Carr the gay choir director of the Catholic church and his friends Sean and Marty It felt tacked on and passionless Compared at any rate to the story of Tabitha Scales and her familyTabitha is the most potentially interesting character in the novel and there are points when you can see what Maguire could have done if he had been focused on her Now Tabitha was walking along with the whole globe inside her the whole brightly colored existence all its impossible skins and layers and transparencies It was hard to think about it The whole globe was in her and in the globe was the eensy little baby with it little kicking feet and the whole baby's life was in there with it and the whole world it would experience it was all right there inside herShe walked past Pastor Jakob Huyck who with his usual timing just happened to be driving by He rolled down his window and said `Going somewhere?'`Not going' she called `coming I'm coming' In an earlier month she would have said this sexily but the sound in her own voice was than sexy It was godlyShe waved him by and kept walking loving herself almost for the first time She walked all the way to the gas station thinking about everything and nothing at once p 285 86The other potentially interesting group of characters are the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries a group of geriatric nuns exiled to a near forgotten home outside of ThebesBy rights this book falls somewhere between 25 and 3 stars so I can't wholeheartedly recommend it but if you like Maguire or this type of fiction you may enjoy it

  7. says:

    Finished this last night and am still mulling it over There were moments as I was reading it when I smiled or chuckled or maybe even laughed out loud at some of the uirky bits and phrases I really wish I'd followed my sometimes pattern of marking those spots so I could dutifully report them here but for some reason I didn't mark themLet me say straight off that there were several things I really liked about this book The main thing was how Concord Press and Gregory Maguire made it available to the reading public It was incredibly generous and altruistic and far reaching Don't believe me? Then see the list of charities and contributions people who have received this book have done in return for the gift everything from the usual spots for donation to 20 Au to a blind Aborigine on the streets of Alice Springs More than 114950 at this writing Generosity based publishing rocks Thank you Concord Press and thank you Mr MaguireI think I went into this expecting this to be a little light hearted All I had to go on was the blurb on the site which said Set in the grotty upstate town of Thebes The Next ueen of Heaven is a Christmas tale gone horribly wrong Clocked by a Catholic statuette Mrs Leontina Scales starts speaking in tongues Tabitha Scales and her brothers scheme to save their mother or surrender her to Jesus—whatever comes first Meanwhile choir director Jeremy Carr caught between lust and ambition fumbles his way toward Y2K The book was that but also involved a heavy amount of teenaged angstanger from a sullen not so nice teenage girl and her eually dysfunctional brothers a lot of struggling with the HIV homosexuality in the lives of three men in Thebes and a dying order of nuns I think I expected the Y2K part to be a bit bigger in the general scheme of things and the lust of a certain Pentecostal minister to be a lesser partBut in general the writing was good crisp and clean Maguire has a talent for showing the other side of the story and does so once again uite nicely here There were a lot of the Catholic bits that made me smile I think the main disappointment was that the book did not match my expectations and what I thought it would be about That certainly isn't the author's fault He told the story he set out to tell If I wanted something different then perhaps I need to write it myself

  8. says:

    After reading this book I can see the correlations between it and the back cover synopsis but can't help feeling that the back cover was misleading For example Mrs Scales does not at any point in the book speak in tongues Also Christmas pageant is the wrong term for the Christmas Eve mass debacle it depicts there are no people just chipped old creche statues and I've always thought a pageant involved real people acting out somethingbut maybe I'm wrong I could live with thatWhere to start? I'm disappointed Clearly Why? Because this had the potential to be a really great blend of funny and spiritual and touching It tries really hard for the funny want an example? Here's one which doubles as an example of unfortunate dialogue “’I’ll do the praying You be the good example Don’t forget your Inner Breathing Also your pocketbook it’s there by the plant'” I know I'm supposed to laugh at the end of this It's the intention of the speaker if not the author but seriously? Could the effort be any obvious? and for the most part ignores the others entirely So many wasted opportunities for a character any character to respond with something other than defensive sarcasm Never happens I think what follows counts as spoilers Most of them vague and no major plot point reveals but if you'd rather read the book without knowing anything about it ahead of time you may want to stop reading this now and go do that insteadThe rant we're in some tiny fictional town in upstate NY that seems to have not one single normal person in it We have a surprisingly large community of gay men but no lesbians? Do the nuns count? who stereotypically break out into multi part harmonies at random in public one of whom is suffering from AIDS and is ill enough for complete strangers to recognize that he's in a bad way yet his family who he still lives with are oblivious to him being sick Or gay for that matter a lecherous pastor an abundance of misbehaving teens with no average or “good” ones to balance them out with the exception of Kirk whose fastidious and effeminate ualities are expounded on to the point of ridiculousness He’s gay whether he knows it yet or not We get it Why is this bigger news to everyone than the fact that his older sister is borderline illiterate possibly knocked up and visits the same jail cell so freuently she’s putting her favorite posters on the walls so it’s homey for her when she—inevitably—returns? a crazy single mother who has a newfound speech impedimentmental scramble of some kind thanks to getting clocked on the head with a Virgin Mary statuette that makes her drop the first letter of the first word of her sentences but somehow the people around her either can’t figure this out or figure it out and then forget they’ve figured it out and can’t understand her again a beauty salon owner slash town gossip and a group of feisty aging nuns There are vague outlines of other families in the background but these potentially ordinary people never fully materialize so what we have is an entire small town populated by larger than life caricatures of people It gets crowded uicklyThere were times when I started to settle into this book I swear But then Tabitha would be plotting to jog her mother back to normal with a wrench no an industrial stapler no now it's a wrench again or Sean would be not very Irish heavily accented Irish only Irish when speaking to his Mam And I'd get irritated all over againHere's what I did like Tabitha I hated her on the first page Too obviously crass begging for attention with all the cussing and sleeping around and whatever I wrote her off early on as part of both the unnecessarily larger than life and trying too hard categories Shortly after her mom is released from the hospital though she starts shrinking down to a manageable size By the end of the book I actually feel for her a little she's in a screwy situation hysterical or not and she doesn't ramp up the drama or cause a scene And she recognizes something that she doesn't want her mother's life? that she can't stay here and watch Caleb's life play out without her? that she has to escape the crazy before she becomes the crazy? her revelation happens somewhere off the page that makes her want to be a different person somewhere other than Thebes Whatever led her to it the Tabitha in the passenger seat at the end of the book is a completely different character than the one in the passenger seat at the beginning of the book and one that's approximately life sized I can't say that I like her but I can say that I like her better which is pretty cool

  9. says:

    I really want to enjoy every book I read; that's the whole reason I pick them up in the first place because they sound interesting However every once in awhile you hit a dud and The Next ueen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire is one book that just never got my attention let alone kept it The book is the story of the town Thebes full of eccentric characters including Mrs Scales who becomes a little crazy after being knocked on the head by a Catholic statue her daughter Tabitha who rebels against her mother's religion and just about everything else and her two sons all the result of three different marriages There's also the gay choir director Jeremy who happens to live fairly nearby to his ex lover now married with children is also practicing for a New York musical contest with two gay buddies one of whom is sick with AIDs There's also half a dozen other characters with their own storylines including a Pastor who has an attraction to Tabitha Tabitha's boyfriend Caleb who is ignoring her following their magical Halloween together and a whole bunch of nuns And yes this is all in one bookMy first mistake was thinking it would be anything like the only other Maguire book I've read Wicked but even though it is not fantasy I still expected the wit that was present in his most popular book In the Author's note Maguire writes For readers who know me primarily as a writer of fantasy the setting and subject matter and the vernacular spoken by characters herein may come as surprise Forgive me my trespasses Well Maguire I don't forgive you for wasting so many hours of my life as I trudged through The Next ueen of Heaven's constant attempt to be clever and uirky For one example Maguire describes Tabitha as a child that At the age of seven she had spent three uarters of a year with a clothespin on her nose trying to keep witchcraft from winging itself through her nasal passages That's what comes from naming your kids after TV characters thought Turk It's simply not funny and it's the type of overly uirkiness that makes the characters seem false instead of genuine and pales in comparison to books which manage to do uirky well like Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave YouMore significantly Maguire simply begins too many storylines and ends up with so many loose ends as to strangle any potential that The Next ueen of Heaven even had Extracting one storyline out the book for example the story of the elderly nuns or that of a gay man and his former now married lover and perhaps Maguire would have had a book I'd enjoy but as it is he overstretched both his talent and my attention span Exceedingly tedious the book had me so bored that it was hard to focus on it for any significant length of time and found me actually avoiding it by cleaning my apartment at one point which shows my desperation It's not that The Next ueen of Heaven was awful bad but it just doesn't pull you in which means that reading it is an exercise in persistence instead of the passion I feel when reading a book I love

  10. says:

    Picked this up in my local Border’s going out of business sale knowing nothing about author Gregory Maguire and figuring the paperback would do as light hearted entertainment on one of my upcoming plane trips across the Pacific I was a little nostalgic for one of those pleasures Kindle has robbed me of Finishing a paperback on a trip and being happy to leave it behind as a surprise for the next guest to inherit your hotel room or for the housekeeper or the barista making my coffee each morningSo much for advance planning at the bargain bin Started TNOH at home instead wanting to read something very different from other recent choices I’ve made and wanting to read it uickly as with chomping through a good meal when you know from where your hunger comes Maguire delivered but not as I expected and I’ll have to try reading another one of his ‘normal’ novels since this one apparently is a bit of a departure for him or so he says is he being honestly apologetic or blatantly mischievous in his Author’s Note? This is one of those books where the back jacket copy is utterly accurate while simultaneously proving that truthfulness can be misleading without enough context to prepare you for likely deceptions You do feel a little deceived at the end but when you think about it you realize it would be worse to admit you were such a clueless reader — far better to give the author credit for being a sneaky genius I felt almost completely ambivalent about the book nearly half way through it even wondering if I’d even bother to finish it only to read a bit and find it snuck up on me — couldn’t put it down the final third despite berating myself for reading instead of working and fiction really? I think the hook sunk in for me when introduced to the ancient Sisters of the Sorrowful Mysteries for I did survive a full 9 years of Catholic School with them and there are some things you can never escape relating to at some level Let’s just say that no one can ever accuse us Catholics of not being interesting at least not us wayward ones who still say “Holy Ghost” precisely because people think “Holy Spirit” has become pc — we know that ship sailed away from us a long time agoThere were a few unanswered uestions for me with this book but you know what? I am perfectly okay with them Good job Gregory Maguire