The Believers

The Believers

Book - 2009
Average Rating:
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Zoe Heller, author of Notes on a Scandal and Everything You Know has written a comic, tragic tale about one family's struggles with the consolations of faith and the trials of doubt. When Joel Litvinoff is felled by a stroke, his wife, Audrey, uncovers a secret that forces her to re-examine her ideas about their forty-year marriage. Joel's children will soon have to come to terms with this unsettling discovery themselves, but for the time being, they are grappling with their own dilemmas. Rosa is being pressed to make a commitment to religion. Karla is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper concession and Lenny is back on drugs. In the course of battling their own demons and each other, every member of the family is called upon to re-examine long-held articles of faith and to decide what - if anything - they still believe in.
Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf Canada, 2009, c2008.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780676978056
0676978053
Characteristics: 335 p. ; 24 cm.

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WVMLStaffPicks Sep 14, 2014

When esteemed civil-rights lawyer Joel Litvinoff suffers a stroke and falls into a coma, his wife and daughters are thrown into emotional turmoil as they grapple with their relationships to one another and their own political and spiritual beliefs. Told with brilliant dialogue and sharply etched characters that pull the reader into this fascinating, contemporary family.

Jane60201 Nov 03, 2013

This book seemed to be more "real" than a lot of novels written by women about family life. I couldn't put it down and am going to recommend it to others.

ksoles May 19, 2011

Zoe Heller is probably best known for her novel, "What Was She Thinking? Notes On A Scandal," which became an Oscar-nominated movie. But Heller's newest book, "The Believers," certainly deserves the same attention as it paints an insightful, multi-vocalic portrait of a dysfunctional New York family.

The author describes the trials of the Litvinoffs after father Joel suffers a major stroke and ends up in a coma. A lawyer famous for his passionate defenses of political radicals, Joel leaves his caustic, disagreeable wife, Audrey, to handle his legacy. Also greatly affected by Joel's absence are his children: Karla, an overweight social worker trapped in an unhappy marriage; Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary who finds herself strangely drawn to Orthodox Judaism; and Lenny, the adopted, heroin-addicted son.

As the story unfolds, all the characters experience revelations, forcing them to discover who they are and who they want to be. Heller's prose is astute, imaginative and humorous, all the while drawing attention to the subtleties of human behaviour, relationships and faith.

b
bfrohlich
Feb 19, 2011

The central female character is very nasty but so well constructed that she fascinates.
It is pretty satirical and, I feel, ends very positively for most characters - not sure Audrey would ever change but at least she understands who she is.
I feel this book is about personal beliefs that people invest in – religious & otherwise, even understanding of ourselves and how we are sometimes forced to reexamine these. I do not think it is coincidence that the lawyer is defending someone whose religious/political beliefs & values may clash with others - that is the same situation his family members have found or will find themselves experiencing. Actually, now that I stumbled on these comments while trying to remember the author's name...I am going to reread it.

m
macierules
Jul 20, 2010

A satire about most belief systems - religious, social, political, even the belief in one's self. Good writing made it a compelling read, which is amazing considering how unlikeable the characters were.

j
jwathome
Jan 03, 2010

I couldn't finish this. Perhaps if I was religious it might have been more interesting. Protagonist is such a nasty person, I read for awhile just to see what would happen to her but eventually decided....life's too short and there are too many other great books to read instead!

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