The Believers Perfect Paperback – 1 Apr 2009
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Funny, moving and very, very true . . . a brilliant, brilliant book (Daily Mail)
Beautiful, stunningly written . . . a subtle, funny family farce about faith and identity (Guardian)
Hilarious . . . a brilliant analysis of what makes families tick (Sunday Express) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Funny, moving and very, very, true. A brilliant, brilliant book. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The Believers opens with a prologue set in London in 1962 - just a year before sexual intercourse started according to Larkin - and sex happens on a first date within the first fifteen pages of the wonderfully written prologue which juxtaposes the sad provincialism of Audrey's parents with the possibilities of moving to New York with American Joel Litvinoff. With Joel she imagines being a comrade 'against injustice' and `sharing the passion and action of their time.'
The prologue is a fantastic opener; the writing is funny and sharp and there is a real sense of excitement and possibility. Heller's wit and clear eyed observation is evident in the opening pages - another woman joins her at the window as she is watching Joel and starts to speak to her about him. `Audrey nodded warily. She had never cared for conspiratorial female conversations of this sort. Its assumption of shared preoccupations was usually unfounded in her experience, its intimacies almost always the trapdoor to some subterranean hostility.' Audrey moves away when the women points out that Litvinoff is a Jew. `There was a time when she would have lingered to hear what amusing or sinister characteristic the woman attributed to the man's Jewishness........and then, when she had let the incriminating words be spoken, she would have gently informed the woman that she was Jewish herself. But she had tired of that part game. Embarrassing the prejudices of your country men was never quite as gratifying as you thought it would be; the countrymen somehow never embarrassed enough.Read more ›
These are all very well drawn. Joel is likeable; but for most of the book he is in a coma in hospital. Audrey, now 59, is rude, foul-mouthed and irascible; her one redeeming feature seems to me to be her love for her husband and, inexplicably, for the 34 year-old drug-addicted Lenny. She certainly does not extend any affection to her own daughters, who are at the receiving end of continuous criticism and wounding remarks; she is so intolerably unpleasant that one wonders what her friend Jean can possibly see in her. Karla, in a loveless marriage, is unhappy, overweight and obsessively placatory. Rosa, who has a good deal of her mother's truculence, has lost her belief in the family socialism and, to the disgust of her ferociously secular parents, is looking for a new identity by learning about orthodox Judaism, though she resists much of what her teachers (with considerable eloquence) tell her about the value of what to her is the absurdity of orthodox rituals.
The story reads easily and sustains one's interest throughout; Heller writes beautifully; her observations are sharp and often witty; the frequently abrasive dialogues are dynamic; and at the very end all those unhappy characters seem to have found something that gives their lives some meaning.
The Believers opens when Audrey and Joel first meet in London and then moves quickly to New York in 2002, they have now been married for 40 years and the story really starts from there.
Joel is a very succesful, out-spoken New York lawyer and Audrey has been his dutiful and very outspoken wife for all these years. When Joel is taken very ill and the family discover his secret, they all start to examine how they feel about themselves and each other.
The whole family are very brittle and extremely disfunctional - with no likeable or warm characters amongst them, yet you still need to know what they will do next. Audrey, the mother is a particularly nasty piece of work and her outbursts of bad language and un PC comments are kind of delightful in her own way! The whole family hate each other and hate themselves and each one them questions their beliefs and views throughout the book.
This is totally absorbing and very compelling, but, I do feel that it may become a 'Marmite' book - you will either love it or hate it.
I loved it - I hope it's not another five years before her next book
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The opening chapter starts o9ff with a party in London and Audrey is the the girl who has come to the party as the girl friend. Read morePublished 26 days ago by jkobi2011
A good read, but didnt draw me in as i had hoped. I read it as a book club read so will be interested to hear everyone's views.Published 11 months ago by Diana
Difficult to enjoy this book as I could not identify at all with the main character..or like her much.Published 16 months ago by Pippa M
A splendidly readable novel, the ideas that grip people and the lives that they lead are represented in this tale of one family. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Cole Davis
Zoe Heller is an acute observer with a keen sense of the humorous, and The Believers fails neither to amuse nor to tell. Read morePublished on 21 July 2014 by reader 451
The problem I found with this novel was that I didn't find the main character very likeable.She just came across as very irascible and hot headed, when I imagine you're meant to... Read morePublished on 20 Mar. 2014 by Ms. Hr Jackson
sharp, witty,. a story about a family in New York. Reminded me a little of an A M Homes novel. Read it.Published on 5 Mar. 2014 by iloveshoes
Read the amazing Notes on a Scandal and wanted to soak up the rest of Heller's catalogue but what a disappointment that turned out to be. Read morePublished on 5 Oct. 2013 by C Jones
I enjoyed this book and thought the main character quite extraordinary. I did not enjoy all the detail that the author indulged in when describing the daughters involvement in... Read morePublished on 24 Sept. 2013 by Lor