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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arditti Just Gets Better!
If you thought nothing could top Michael Arditti's 'Easter', you have a treat in store. 'The Enemy of The Good' is a wonderful, life-affirming novel that takes you on a roller-coaster ride through England as it is today. When so many modern novelists retreat into the past, Arditti dares to confront the world around him. Eccentric but completely credible characters like:...
Published on 12 July 2009 by Mrs. A. Mutti

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - in parts
Over the holiday period I have had the good fortune to read several exceptionally fine novels. This was almost one of them - a very interesting book indeed. Much of it is absolutely first rate, worth 4 or even 5 stars. Unfortunately it is badly let down by the second section. So it is like the curate's egg - good (even excellent), but only in part.

The book...
Published on 18 Jan 2010 by D. Ballard


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arditti Just Gets Better!, 12 July 2009
By 
Mrs. A. Mutti (Cambridge, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
If you thought nothing could top Michael Arditti's 'Easter', you have a treat in store. 'The Enemy of The Good' is a wonderful, life-affirming novel that takes you on a roller-coaster ride through England as it is today. When so many modern novelists retreat into the past, Arditti dares to confront the world around him. Eccentric but completely credible characters like: Clement the gay painter, Susannah the music P.R., Carla the Buddhist stained-glass window artist, Rafik the Algerian asylum seeker, Marta the Jewish anthropologist, Edwin the radical Bishop and Karen the Pagan romantic, struggle with a host of life-and-death dilemmas. Arditti's writing is touching, true, humorous, and wise. I was gripped from chapter one and honestly never wanted it to end. I would recommend this wonderful book to anyone.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Enemy of the Good, 17 May 2009
By 
C. B. Walston (Cambridge) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
This is a really exciting read! There are so many strands to the complicated - yet easy to follow - plot and you truly felt that you had learnt something by the end of it and something that you could take away and think about and discuss with your friends. Theological themes are not usually my thing, but I had read previous books by Michael Arditti and I felt confident that I'd be able to manage this. The Enemy of the Good is certainly his best book yet and I recommend it to anybody who is interested in any number of different aspects of society today.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars review of The Enemy of the Good, 15 May 2009
This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
I was happy to discover a novel that entertains and as well as illuminates. Michael Arditti's novel The Enemy of the Good successfully relates a family saga which is a microcosm of modern society relevant to today's issues; the search for faith and meaning, the problems associated with it, the value of religion and how it impacts on the individual, the sexual integrity of the individual, all presented here with a passionate zeal. It is a page-turner novel that does not short-change or compromise on any of those issues.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Enemy of the Good? The Best!, 26 May 2009
This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
I wanted to post my review last week but, finding only unalloyed praise for Michael Arditti's latest book, I did not want to be just another five-star fan. However, it looks as if I'd have to wait a long time for a lull in the acclaim as the five stars just kept on coming and I could no longer wait to share with others my enthusiasm for this book.
Other reviewers have said this more eloquently than I could but I'd still like to add, quite simply, that 'The Enemy of the Good' has everything you could want from a novel: it tells a fascinating story in beautifully crafted prose, it instructs and educates in the gentlest possible way, it surprises and excites without stretching credulity and, finally, it stays in the mind long after the last page has been read.
I have recommended this book to very many people already and have done so without the slightest doubt that they will love it too. If you are interested in any aspect of life in the 21st century, you will appreciate Arditti's intelligent descriptions and discussions and you, too, will find yourself recommending it to your friends.
I learnt that it was Voltaire who said that the enemy of the good is the best. Well, this is the best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Religion and living, 16 May 2009
By 
S. D. Billington (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
It is remarkable how fascinating the combination of belief, doubt,conflict and conflict resolution is in this fine work. The spectrum of all the major world religions (and atheism) is found within one family and could have resulted in pedantry or confusion. But the plot is brilliantly conceived and the dramatic thread pulls the reader along, involved in the personal situations and experiences. No-one is right and no-one is wrong: there is a sympathetic involvement with all the characters attempting to make sense of bizarre experiences. The complexities of the plot are true to the unpredictability of today's world. It is truly a memorable book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Body and soul, heart and mind., 3 Jun 2009
By 
P. M. Gold - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD is a wonderful novel full of ideas and also full of fascinating characters. It has all the scope and intelligence of the best Iris Murdoch. The ideas couldn't be more topical - the conflicts (or not) of sex, particularly gay sex, and religion; the attractions of fundamentalism (in this case Jewish); and the challenges posed by rationalist athieism. The characters are bold and varied - I particularly liked the wonderful Marta, a forthright, secular anthropologist, who is also a holocaust survivor. It is a story that engages the mind and the heart in equal measure.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the enemy of the good - a great read!, 21 May 2009
This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
This is not normally the type of book I read, but now that I have I'm so glad I ventured into a new genre! It is a fascinating portrayal of life within an eclectic family whose individuals are all interesting in their own ways. It was a real page turner - and almost by default I learnt much about issues to which I hadn't been exposed to in the past - particularly Hasidic Judaism. It also proved to be quite a personal journey for me, as I have struggled with what my beliefs are, feeling that there is a God, but not being able to identify with any one belief system, and lamenting how so many in the world use religion to further their own aims. But above all it was the complex stories of the Granvilles that really grabbed me, and although the strands of their lives did seem to come together in the end, once I'd finished the book I was left wanting to know what happens to them next - a true sign of a good read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good - in parts, 18 Jan 2010
By 
D. Ballard (Ramsbury Wiltshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
Over the holiday period I have had the good fortune to read several exceptionally fine novels. This was almost one of them - a very interesting book indeed. Much of it is absolutely first rate, worth 4 or even 5 stars. Unfortunately it is badly let down by the second section. So it is like the curate's egg - good (even excellent), but only in part.

The book explores very interesting themes around spirituality and faith. The majority of the characters are interesting and credible. About 50% of the book, the first and fourth and final section, is seen through the eyes of Clement, an artist of deep but somewhat perverse faith, a liberal Anglican, so far as he I could tell (i.e. Episcopalian for those in the USA). The work revolves around two major commissions that he undertakes - one a depiction of the apocryphal 'Harrowing of Hell' undertaken for a cathedral stained glass window (see [...] the second a crucifixion for an open prison in which he is incarcerated. Both have original interpretations. In the first there is a clear willingness, from a liberal position. to confront absolutist / literal interpretations of the Bible. The artwork works in itself but causes deep offence. The second is developed in a setting in which absolutist / literal interpretations of religion are more justified (as briefly but cogently pointed out by the local prelate) and initially also causes offence, but is then a success. So Clement's journey is from intolerant liberalism to a more nuanced and wiser, more integrated position. Or so I saw it, anyway.

Clement is gay and HIV positive. Straight as I am myself, I found the depiction of his world completely convincing. During the book he has a massive, even life defining, moral choice to make, one which he makes (it seemed to me) almost blindly, even wilfully, but then suffers for and through accepting that suffering comes fully to inhabit that choice and through it seems to attain a state of deeper grace. (Oh - and during that process paints a crucifixion!).

The second main character is Marta, his mother, a Jewish ghetto survivor and agnostic with a deep secret. In the third section of the book, confronted with the same choice as Clement, perhaps a worse one, she chooses differently. An academic somewhat along the lines of Margaret Mead, we are given a lecture by her that is exceptionally coherent and convincing. Her inner process as she re-enters the world of her youth and faces the inconsistencies of her own position is again very convincing.

The secondary characters for these sections of the book are also convincing. Edwin, Marta's husband and Clement's father, is a retired Bishop who has remained in the church despite a well-publicised loss of faith. Again a vitally present character. However I should say that a very close relative of my own faced a similar challenge to his as a member of the Anglican church and to me faced it with far greater integrity and at much greater personal risk. The church was not as accommodating of him and his family as it seems to have been of Edwin - whose huge wealth expedites the novel but grated on me. Nonetheless he is portrayed as a man of great goodness and I could not but concur with that. Mike, Clement's constantly inconstant lover, leaps off the page. The first Christ model, Rafik, even the second, Stick, also live as characters. Even Schlomo, a prisoner in the protected wing of the prision, held my reluctant attention.

A quibble with these sections of the book is that the dialogue is exceptionally intellectual and that people do not speak like that in every day life. Well, I suppose one or two might, but I move in relatively intellectual circles and the people I know do not in everyday conversation. Perhaps I went to the wrong university? Well no, I was at the same college as the author (indeed a contemporary of his - although I did not know him except from afar) so it is unlikely to be that!

Luckily it is all very interesting. The speech at the process before the 'harrowing' is accepted is brilliant, as is the sermon at Edwin's funeral. Quite brlliant.

So 4 stars so far - perhaps even 5 had I not just read Justin Cartwright's 'The Song before it is Sung' and had the dialogue been a little more convincing.

So what was the problem?

The device of the plot needed a central fundamentalist character and this is provided by Clement's sister Susanna / Shoshanna and her husband Zvi - two converts to a fundamentalist sect of Judaism. This could have been provided without difficulty by having both their conversions well in the past, introducing them at the time of the critical decision, perhaps with a chapter explaining their background and relationships to Marta and Clement. Unfortunately the author takes us through Susanna's conversion, and frankly hardly a word rings true. The account is both far too long (as I have pointed out) and way too short. This section could have been developed into a novel perhaps, but the process has the credibility of a 'With one bound Jack was free' escape in a second rate thriller.

I found the depiction of Susanna's business life particularly irritating, a caricature. I was left with the conclusion that the author had sacrificed his characters' credibility to the demands of the plot and for a novelist I just do not think that this is on. Sorry.

Also deeply irritating was the author's perspective on Buddhism, seen through the eyes of Carla, the wife of Clement's late twin. While the author's knowledge of Christianity is certainly deep, and of Judaism seems to be deep, this is a golf club saloon bar view of one of the world's great religions and intellectual traditions. The author does not even bother to locate her practice well. Most of what paases for her practice is clearly Southern School - and deeply unsophisticated at that - er, Buddhists do not normally interpret reincarnation as Carla appears to, or the doctrine of Anatta. But then we are told that Carla has a Zen master. Well, they would hardly mention reincarnation (except in the occasional koan of Hyakujo's fox). And then all of a sudden we are treated to Guru Rinpoche - a Tibetan. We have the Hinayana, the Mahayana and the Vajrayana in one person (look it up, Mr Arditti, if you want to write about Buddhism). The Sangha or congregation is central to Buddhism and to anyone who has any experience of Sangha, Carla's character is not credible. Sorry, but if an author introduces a character s/he needs to do the research.

This section of the book would barely deserve 2 stars. I actually think that all but one of the chapters could have been eliminated without difficulty.

At the end of this section I almost gave up. But the second half returns to top form. I recommend the book despite this glaring fault.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful in its compassion, excitng in its readibility and rewarding in its intellectual integrity, 21 May 2009
By 
Nicholas Ward (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
You might expect a novel about faith, extremism, liberalism, euthansia and hard-won redemption to be either depressing or inacessible.

By the first page of 'The Enemy of the Good' you will be persuaded that it can be the opposite; lifting and riveting. Indeed once you have read the first page it probably wont be long until you get to the last page, so gripping as it is.

There are few books about faith, fiction and non-fiction, that do not seek to convert the reader, even if just to a tolerant liberalism. This novel gives you the charcters and their lives, complete with the difficulties, ecstasies and contradictions, and then leaves you to make up your own mind- It is a strategy that ensures this novel lingers not only in the memory but also in the heart.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Enemy of the Good, 17 May 2009
By 
Rosie (Cambridge U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Enemy of the Good, The (Paperback)
"The Enemy of the Good" is a truly brilliant and satisfying novel and I am very sad that I have reached the end of the book. I got totally involved with the lives of the Granville family and in particular with Clement with whom I felt real empathy. Michael Arditti has cleverly balanced thorny theological problems and the dynamics of relationships. The combination of all this has produced a very insightful and thought provoking read.
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The Enemy of the Good
The Enemy of the Good by Michael Arditti (Paperback - 4 Feb 2010)
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