ARC Review: The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding

HeartOfHenryQuantumCoverSynopsis from Goodreads:

In the bestselling tradition of A Man Called Ove and the beloved film Love Actually, a quirky, socially awkward man goes on a quest to find his wife a last-minute Christmas gift and encounters several distractions—including bumping into his ex-girlfriend who was the one who got away.

Henry Quantum has several thoughts going through his head at any given time, so it’s no surprise when he forgets something very important—specifically, a Christmas gift for his wife, which he realizes on the morning of December 23. Henry sets off that day in search of the perfect present for her: a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume. But much like Henry’s ever-wandering mind, his quest takes him in different and unexpected directions, including running into the former love of his life, Daisy. His wife, meanwhile, unhappy in her marriage, is hiding a secret of her own. And Daisy, who has made the unsettling choice of leaving her husband to strike out on her own, finds herself questioning whether she and Henry belong together after all.

A sweet, funny, and touching debut from author Pepper Harding shows how the seemingly insignificant events of one single day can change our lives forever—perhaps, if we’re lucky, for the better.

 *** I received an eARC copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

Review: I enjoyed this quirky, romantic book very much.

The Heart of Henry Quantum is equal parts romantic and quirky, and is also an ode to San Francisco and Marin County. Henry Quantum is married to Margaret, his wife of thirteen years, and on December 23rd, he remembers that he needs to buy a Christmas gift for his wife and decides to buy her a bottle of Chanel No. 5.

Can I just stop and say how beautiful the cover of this book is? It catches your attention, with the bold yellow and orange colors, and has the striking image of the perfume bottle, and then has grid marks mimicking the streets of a city. Well done!

The cover was what drew me to this book on NetGalley, and the blurb above sold the rest.

And I was so pleasantly surprised once I started reading to discover that this book was set in San Francisco, truly my favorite big city in the world, and also had scenes set in Marin County. I live in Sonoma County, which is the county directly north of Marin County, and live about an hour (depending on traffic) away from San Francisco. Many of the places mentioned are places I have been, and I could easily feel Henry’s path through San Francisco, and the characters he encounters while wandering the streets of Chinatown and Union Square. There are also some cultural references about San Francisco and the people that live there that I found hilarious, but I’m not sure that people living in other parts of the country and world would necessarily find as funny.

Henry is a likeable character; I wanted him to find his happiness, either with his wife, Margaret, or his ex, Daisy. The book is told from the points of view of Henry, Margaret, and Daisy, so you get a glimpse into each character’s mind, and how the breakdown of a marriage, a relationship, happens.

Henry was quirky and odd, and the way the book was written did take me a chapter or two to get into, but once I got the flow of the writing I was hooked. I would’ve read this book in one sitting had I not had to go to work. That’s how readable this book is.

One of the things about Henry is that he is very into science, and I honestly was not expecting the scientific ramblings involving physics that appear in the book. But looking back, the name Henry QUANTUM was a big clue. So there are scientific ramblings, which as a non-scientist I didn’t quite understand all of it, but I definitely was not bored by it. And really, there isn’t a tremendous amount of it; it was just something I wasn’t expecting.

Another thing about the book is that there is a fair amount of swearing in it, and there are also some sexual scenes/content. Nothing too terribly graphic, but it is there.

Henry, Margaret, and Daisy all wander around in their own minds, Henry most of all, and while I enjoyed this rambling, I can see how this style wouldn’t appeal to everyone. Margaret and Daisy are different enough, but yet each hold honest ties to Henry that truly makes his dilemma seem real. My favorite character actually was Denise, a co-worker of Henry’s, and I also liked Margaret’s brother Arthur, who doesn’t make an official appearance, he’s just mentioned a lot.

This book is set at Christmastime, but the holiday aspects of the book don’t overwhelm it. You can read this book at anytime in the year and it won’t feel out of place.

I appreciated all of the contemplative aspects about relationships and love. As someone who has been married for 14 years, I could relate to parts of Henry and Margaret’s relationship. The struggle for communication, the bearing of your soul just to have the other person spout off some nonsense that has nothing to do with what you’ve just been saying, the good times, and the bad. The humor and the seriousness.

This is a good read for anyone who likes wandering thoughts and quotable, contemplative lines. This book would be an excellent book club selection, as there are many issues that are brought up (infidelity, happiness, and wealth to name a few) that would make for good discussion. I also don’t think that everyone would love the book and agree with every decision made, and those books always make for spirited discussion.

Bottom Line: Quirky and romantic, with the city of San Francisco acting as a character in its own right. I rated this 4 stars (out of 5) on Goodreads.

*** I received an eARC copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

Links to The Heart of Henry Quantum on Goodreads and Amazon

The Heart of Henry Quantum releases on October 4, 2016.

Does this sound like a good read? Do you love the cover as much as I do?



9 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding

    1. I’m not overly fond of swearing in books either. Sometimes I think it may just be an author trying to sound realistic, as some people do swear constantly, but other times it takes me out of the story and I nitpick the language choices! I especially notice it when I’ve gone several books in a row without any swearing, then pick one up with language in it.


    1. 🙂 Yeah, I enjoyed it! But, I looked at other reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and it seems that it isn’t getting that many good reviews. Which is too bad, I really thought it was cute!


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