The Believers Paperback – Feb 9 2010
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“The Believers is funny, serious, well plotted and well written, sympathetic without being sentimental, thought-provoking and enjoyable; in short, that rare specimen every reader hopes for when opening a new book.”
— The Globe and Mail
“An intelligent, darkly comic and richly entertaining read.”
— Edmonton Journal
“In her portrait of an obsessive and manipulative school teacher [in Notes on a Scandal] . . . Heller displayed her undeniable gift for creating human beings who behave dreadfully. She’s at it again with The Believers.”
— Calgary Herald
“Heller’s skewering of left-wing hypocrisy is so devilishly hilarious.”
— Toronto Star
“Heller has a way with characters. . . . Her fine prose appears effortless.”
— The Boston Globe
“An astonishingly well-observed, slow burner, it’s virtuoso prose compressed and beautiful.”
— The Guardian
“Relevant, expansive, and subtle. . . . A writer of consistently high-class, understated and shattering fiction.”
— Lionel Shriver, the Daily Telegraph
“Heller’s writing in The Believers is never less than stunning: Her eye for detail and ear for dialogue are masterful, if unsettling.”
— National Post
“Heller is at her best here.”
— The Gazette
“Marriage, politics, religion - ha! . . . The Believers is easily Heller’s most ambitious and satisfying book.”
— Globe and Mail (interview)
“Brilliant. . . . This novel’s blackly comic accounts . . . remind the reader of Ms. Heller’s ability, first glimpsed in [Notes on a Scandal].”
— The New York Times
“Funny, sharp, caustic, deft and ruthless.”
— The Mail on Sunday
“This is a novel rich in humour and packed with sparkling dialogue. Above all, it’s a funny and brilliant analysis of what makes families tick.”
— Sunday Express
“A brilliant, brilliant book.”
— Daily Mail
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Back Cover
When radical New York lawyer Joel Litvinoff is felled by a stroke, his wife, Audrey, uncovers a secret that forces her to reexamine everything she thought she knew about their forty-year marriage. Joel’s children will soon have to come to terms with this discovery themselves, but for the meantime, they are struggling with their own dilemmas and doubts.
Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, has found herself drawn into the world of Orthodox Judaism and is now being pressed to make a commitment to that religion. Karla, a devoted social worker hoping to adopt a child with her husband, is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand outside her office. Ne’er-do-well Lenny is living at home, approaching another relapse into heroin addiction.
In the course of battling their own demons—and one another—the Litvinoff clan is called upon to examine long-held articles of faith that have formed the basis of their lives together and their identities as individuals. In the end, all the family members will have to answer their own questions and decide what—if anything—they still believe in.
Hailed by the Sunday Times (London) as "one of the outstanding novels of the year," The Believers explores big ideas with a light touch, delivering a tragic, comic family story as unsparing as it is filled with compassion.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Audrey's views on life and especially her perception of the myth of "Joel and Audrey, the entity," are shaken to the core. After all, the "Joel and Audrey" she had come to believe in was almost an institution.
Daughter Rosa, a disillusioned revolutionary, turns to Orthodox doctrine; Karla, a social worker hoping to adopt a child with her husband, is falling in love with the owner of a newspaper stand; and Lenny, the adopted son, is relapsing once again into his heroin addiction.
While Joel lies in a coma in the hospital, battling his illness, his family members battle their demons.
Author Zoe Heller, whose What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal: A Novel earned acclaim, has skillfully woven the details of this drama - the dilemmas and conflicts of Audrey, Rosa, Karla and Lenny, as well as a supporting cast of characters - into a masterful, yet emotional and intellectual probing; nothing will be left unexamined by the end of this tale. And how the pieces fall together afterwards - well, the reader may be able to anticipate some of the changes, but others will certainly come as a surprise.
The Believers captured my attention, as I love a good family drama. I found it easy to immerse myself in the characters, as they examined and reexamined their true beliefs.
Author of: Web of Tyranny, etc.
study of a dysfunctional New York family.
The author unflinchingly details the derailment of the Litvinoff family after father Joel, is felled by a major stroke which leaves him in a coma. He is a lawyer well known for his political views as well as impassioned defenses of radicals and terrorists. Wife, Audrey is a thoroughly disagreeable woman who disparages their daughters, Rosa and Karla, at every turn.
After some 40 years of marriage she considers her acerbic comments to be rather charming, sort of beguiling when they are in reality mean spirited and cruel. Karla is an overweight social worker married to Mike, a union organizer, who worships her father. They are unsuccessfully trying to have a child with perfunctory love making that leaves Karla wondering why or how her life came to this.
Rosa, although raised in a Jewish family devoid of any religious beliefs, finds herself strangely drawn to an Orthodox faith. She attends a synagogue and participates in a Shabbaton, which she describes as "an extended Sabbath with extra lectures and things" in response to Audrey's insulting, irreverent questions.
No peace or congeniality is to be found anywhere in the Litvinoff clan, certainly not between Audrey and Joel's mother, Hannah, who bicker as "In his silence, Joel had become a perfectly passive prize, an infinitely interpretable symbol: a Sphinx whose meanings and ownership they could squabble over forever, without fear of decisive contradiction.Read more ›
Another five-star review spoke about the satiric depiction of the Litvinoff family, whose family patriarch, a radical lawyer, lays dying from a severe stroke in New York in the year after 9/11. The other family members - whose lives and loves radiate out from the parents - are not as broadly drawn as the parents, particularly Audrey, the mother, mother-in-law, wife, friend, etc, from hell. Audrey and Joel are drawn a touch broadly, but I didn't think the children were quite as much.
I always enjoy and appreciate great writing. Heller's novel is a good example of great writing.