Review: The Believers by Zoe Heller

My lovely sister bought me this book; I have not ready anything by Zoe Heller before but I am going to read her other books after finishing The Believers.
The story revolves around the Litvinoffs, a dysfunctional family living in New York. Audrey makes a shocking discovery about her husband Joel; he is a radical lawyer who she thought she knew inside out. Their daughter, Rosa, begins a journey into Orthodox Judaism, pleasing her atheist parents no end. Karla is in a loveless marriage with nobody to turn to for support, especially not her own mother who does not have a kind word to say about her. Lenny, the adopted Litvinoff, is taking drugs again and looking for a new route in life.
The book is extremely tense; I greatly disliked the character of Audrey and the way she forces everyone to dance around her, constantly treading on egg shells. The dialogue created by Zoe Heller is superb, it is extremely natural and I think it is the aspect of the book that I enjoyed the most.
The Believers does discuss religion but so much more as well. It explores the relationships we believe in and the amount of unquestioning trust that we place in them. Ultimately each character is led to question their beliefs in some way yet they are all desperately searching for something to place their beliefs in. I think that is how most of us get through life; we have to place our beliefs, hopes and aspirations in something in order to make sense of our surroundings and experiences.
This book gave me a great deal to think about and I know that I will return to it again in the future. Zoe Heller has created brilliant, vivid characters who she provides with an excellent plot and sparkling dialogue, making The Believers an extremely difficult book to put down.


Nadia said...

The only Zoe Heller book I have read it Notes on a Scandal and that is one great read. I'll definitely put this one on my list of books to buy. Sounds interesting!

Anonymous said...

Oh I havent read this even though I have had it for ages and should have read it when it was first out, shameful.

Glad you are back, am playing catch up with all your posts!

Dot said...

Nadia- I have only seen the film for Notes on a Scandal but I am going to read the book now, I really liked her writing style.

Simon- Thank you! You should give this one a go, I thought it was ever so good.

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