This is the first novel by this author that I have reviewed here as the previous one I read was Notes on a Scandal (2003) in 2004 before I started this Book Review Blog. I was surprised that this novel is very different in style to the last one, a trait I always admire in authors that are brave enough not to just reproduce a winning style in their writing. I think The Believers is just as good if not better than Notes on a Scandal and I do not hesitate to recommend both of them.
The novel is set in 2002, over a period of about eight months, but to set the scene when the novel opens it is forty years previously and the protagonist Audrey Howard meets Joel Litvinoff, the man who will become her husband at a party. A whirlwind romance with Joel, fourteen years her senior leads her to follow him from London where they met to New York in order to become his wife. Fast forward forty years and Audrey and her three grown up children are forced to revaluate their lives when Joel a radical successful lawyer suffers a stroke. Over four decades their family life developed in line with Joel’s ambitions to fight social injustices and they appear to live a very liberal lifestyle. After his stroke though the enormous cracks in this lifestyle come to the surface as Audrey, her daughters Rosa and Karla and their adopted brother Lenny all have to face their own demons. As they struggled to decide what they each personally believed in I found that although I did not really like any of them, I still became involved in their relationships. For me it was a compelling read that was both funny and poignantly sad.
Zoë Kate Hinde Heller was born in north London on 7 July 1965, she is an English journalist and novelist.
She studied English at St Anne's College, Oxford, and then went on to Columbia University, New York where she received an MA in 1988. Zoe Heller began her career in journalism, as a feature writer for the Independent on Sunday in the UK. She later returned to New York to write for Vanity Fair and then the New Yorker. She also wrote a weekly column for the Sunday Times magazine in the UK. She currently lives in New York with her two daughters. Her three published novels are
Zoe Heller talking about her writing and ‘The Believers’ which I found very interesting as she mentions writing about unlikeable characters!
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