Title: The Next Queen of Heaven
Author: Gregory Maguire
Source: TLC Book Tours
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. [via Goodreads]
Gregory Maguire is known for his retelling of children's stories (i.e. The Wizard of Oz, The Little Match Girl, etc.) This is the first of his novels that I see that he has come up with a purely fictional story. I must confess that I did have some trouble with the amount of characters in this novel and I found myself more than once trying to get a grip on what was happening because I had one of the characters mistaken.
It did get a little easier to read after a while, especially once I got the characters in the right order. And I do have to say that there were many instances where I found myself laughing out loud. I couldn't help it - there were just so many things going on and the more I thought of them, the funnier I found the whole thing to be. It was silly. The characters were over the top and the situations they found themselves in were unbelievable. There's a little bit of everything in this book - religion, sexuality, HIV, two feuding churches, teen pregnancy, musicians, even elderly nuns. It was pure mayhem! With all the crazy and zany antics throughout, there was also the more serious tone of finding and believing in oneself.
I also really enjoyed that the book takes place around Christmas - and I think Mr. Maguire did a great job in capturing the Christmas spirit - in his own quirky way.
I can't say that I loved this book, but I can definitely appreciate it. I found it too busy for my tastes and I felt that the ending lacked a little. I would have liked more closure for some of the characters. All in all, I can't say this is a book for everyone but I can see where many would still enjoy it.