The Believers by Zoe Heller
I was quite excited to receive “The Believers” from the Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club. Unfortunately, I found it to be not at all my cup of tea.
“The Believers” tells the story of a family whose socialist 1960s ideals have gone awry. When lawyer Joel has goes into a coma, his wife Audrey’s life is irrevocably changed, particularly as she begins to find out Joel’s secrets.
Heller’s writing and style was rather good, but the characters were simply atrocious. Joel and Audrey’s daughters annoyed me, their son was good for nothing, and I absolutely detested Audrey. Yes, this means that Heller wrote EXTREMELY convincing characters, but for me that was detrimental to my reading of the novel. I simply could not stand reading about these people. Nor was I particularly impressed with Joel’s ‘secret’. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will tell you that Audrey knew this sort of thing was going on, but not the precise details of the ‘secret’ itself. Since she didn’t care much that similar things were happening, I found it difficult to accept the level of betrayal she felt over the ‘secret’.
If you enjoy watching nasty hypocrites screwing up their lives and the lives of those around them more and more, you will probably love “The Believers.’ Likewise, if you are able to look past distinctly unlikeable characters, you will probably enjoy Heller’s skill. If you need to be able to relate, or at least tolerate SOME character in a book, “The Believers” may not be the best choice for you.
“The Believers” is being released March 3, 2009.