2012: 15. The Believers

"London 1962.  At a party in a bedsit just off Gower Street, a young woman stood alone at the window, her elbows pinned to her sides in attempt to hid the dark flowers of perspiration blossoming at the armholes of her dress."

The Believers,  Zoe Heller

       I read The Believers a long time ago.  Probably in January, to be honest.  And, now that so much time has passed, I have to say that I barely remember it.  Which isn't a screaming endorsement, I know.  The plot, generally, is about a woman whose husband falls into a coma, and when he dies, she learns that he has this whole secret family that she knew nothing about it.  The title comes from the fact that her husband (and she, too) was this big liberal - like the kind that doesn't exist any more - this pro union, Marxist, liberal, who fought (he was a lawyer) for all sorts of left wing causes - indeed, the last case he was working on was one of these muslim ground zero-y terrorists.  And the secret family (well, the secret son - the relationship was actually over, it was just that he was involved with his secret son) is black, and suddenly this woman is forced to face her so-called beliefs - free love, and all that, versus her reality - her extreme anger at her husband.  And its about her, and her children, and her husband and dealing with their lives  and emotions as he SPOILER dies.   

      As I write about it, it comes back to me, and what I really remember most about the book is that Heller undoubtedly makes the people seem real, and their emotions plausible, but the problem (and this was the case with Heller's more famous book, Notes on a Scandal, although there it didn't quell my enjoyment of the book) is that I found the protaganist to be so deeply unlikeable that I didn't enjoy the book.  And I know, I was just complaining about the Mary-Sueness of the heroine of A Discovery of Witches, but there is a middle ground between a fakely perfect heroine, and a protagonist that you just straight out dislike.  No doubt those people exist - we all know people who are total pills - but it doesn't mean I want to spend hours of my life with them.

Categories: Fiction, Library Book

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017