The Believers

The Believers

Hardback

By (author) Zoe Heller

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Paperback $10.64
  • Publisher: Fig Tree
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 158mm x 241mm x 31mm | 606g
  • Publication date: 25 September 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0670916129
  • ISBN 13: 9780670916122
  • Sales rank: 399,203

Product description

This is a comic, tragic, supremely entertaining novel about one family's struggles with the consolations of faith and the trials of doubt. When Audrey makes a devastating discovery about her husband, New York radical lawyer Joel Litvinoff, she is forced to re-examine everything she thought she knew about their forty-year marriage. Joel's children will soon have to come to terms with this unsettling secret themselves, but for the meantime, they are trying to cope with their own dilemmas. Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, is grappling with a new-found attachment to Orthodox Judaism. Karla, an unhappily married social worker, is falling in love with an unlikely suitor at the hospital where she works. Adopted brother Lenny is back on drugs again. In the course of battling their own demons and each other, every member of the family is called upon to decide what - if anything - they still believe in.

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Author information

Zoe Heller is the author of two previous novels, Everything You Know and Notes on a Scandal, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2003. She lives in New York.

Review quote

Praise for Notes On A Scandal: 'Fascinating, brilliant, horribly addictive' Guardian 'Deliciously sinister' Daily Mail 'Brilliant, nasty, gripping' Zadie Smith, Observer

Editorial reviews

This sociopolitical comedy of manners concerning a radical lawyer in a coma is beyond the novelist's satiric command.The main problem with the latest from the British Heller (What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, 2003, etc.) is that it lacks focus. It could have focused on Joel Litvinoff, a famous activist attorney described by those who despise him as a "rent-a-radical with a long history of un-Americanism," but he's unconscious in his hospital bed for the bulk of the book. It wants to focus on his wife Audrey, like the novelist a British-born transplant to New York, whom the older Joel seduces in London when she is 18 and who remains married to him for 40 years. The problem is that Audrey is the least compelling character, with little explanation as to how she has become such a doctrinaire radical harridan (much more rigid than her husband), a "champagne socialist" hypocrite and unloving mother to her two daughters. Maybe Karla and Rosa, the daughters estranged from each other, could have provided the focus. The former is a heavy, good-hearted woman who must choose between her loveless marriage and an improbable affair. The latter is more attractive and resents the superficiality of her beauty; she is an extremist in everything she does, having returned from four years in Cuba to embrace, or at least investigate, the Judaism her parents long ago rejected (and which runs counter to her own feminism). Unfortunately, their stories only connect at the bedside of their comatose father, a center that cannot hold. Adopted son Lenny, from an even more radical family, mainly provides comic relief as his mother's marijuana supplier, until he cleans up. What promises to propel the narrative is Joel's deep secret, revealed while he is unconscious, but even that seems on the periphery, before its unlikely resolution provides something of a climax.Tom Wolfe might once have had vicious fun with such material, but this novel lacks the edge to make it sharper than soap opera. (Kirkus Reviews)