Rated Reads

The Heart of Henry Quantum

by Pepper Harding

Rated: High

Two days before Christmas, Henry Quantum realizes he hasn’t bought a Christmas gift for his wife of 13 years, Margaret. He decides to take a break from his work in his office in San Francisco and walk to Macy’s to buy her a bottle of perfume. His mind goes off on all kinds of tangents about philosophy and quantum physics. But that’s the usual for him. What throws off his day is running into Daisy, his ex-lover who dumped him four years earlier.

Meanwhile, Margaret is taking a day of her own, to drive out of the city and meet with her lover. Margaret recalls (to her bemusement) throughout the drive, which is stalled by someone who is supposedly about to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, her past with Henry and what she was looking for in her life.

Last, readers get a point of view of Daisy, who loved Henry but felt guilty because he said he didn’t feel guilty about their respective cheating on their spouses.

The book is billed as in the tradition of A Man Called Ove, which I haven’t read, but whose author’s other book Britt-Marie Was Here starred a very quirky protagonist and was utterly charming. I read this because of that billing and was utterly disappointed. Sure, Henry is quirky, but neither he nor the book as a whole is charming. In fact, very, very little of it is likable or sweet. The characters aren’t really likable. Plus, the fact that they’re all or have been involved in extramarital affairs, with them all contemplating or deciding to stay in the affairs, left me completely flat.

I just didn’t enjoy this one, and it didn’t live up to its billing. Bummer.

Rated: High, for about 30 uses of strong language and other less-harsh language, several occasions of sexual content that’s brief but sometimes detailed, and the themes of extramarital affairs without real repercussions.

* I received an advanced reader’s e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for about 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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Henry Quantum
  • The Heart of Henry Quantum
  • by Pepper Harding
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: