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This month's Book Group selection: The Believers by Zoe Heller
8:30am Monday 15th November 2010 in Book Group
THIS month’s Book Group selection is The Believers by Zoe Heller, author of the bestselling Notes on a Scandal.
The title, it soon becomes clear, is ironic, as the one thing that unites the Litvinoff family is a determined lack of belief.
And when renowned civil rights lawyer and determined atheist Joel Litvinoff suffers a stroke, the relentlessly right-on Litvinoffs are left reeling by the aftershocks, and we discover that Joel and Audrey’s determined idealism and philanthropy mask enormous failings on a more personal level.
Older daughter Karla struggles with a lack of self-esteem, thanks largely to her parents, and the weight of her unpleasant husband’s expectations as they attempt to adopt a child, not to mention her own weight.
Meanwhile younger daughter Rosa begins to question her family’s lack of faith and, to her mother’s horrified disbelief, embarks on a personal exploration of her orthodox Jewish roots.
Meanwhile, Lenny, the son Joel and Audrey adopted, has failed to live up to expectations though Audrey continues to enable his destructive behaviour in the name of love.
Karla’s emotional awakening, when it comes, is as surprising as it is inevitable, and as touching as it is faintly comic, while Rosa’s encounters with her heritage prove challenging and confusing.
There are no real happy endings here, but Heller’s satirical eye sharply deconstructs the reality and hypocrisy that can underpin lives seemingly dedicated to the greater good.
About the author
ZOE Heller, who now lives in New York, was born in London in 1965 and educated at Oxford University and Columbia University, New York.
She is a journalist who, after writing book reviews for various newspapers, became a feature writer for The Independent. She wrote a weekly confessional column for the Sunday Times for four years, but now writes for the Daily Telegraph and earned the title Columnist of the Year in 2002.
She is the author of Everything You Know, a dark comedy about misanthropic writer Willy Miller, and Notes on a Scandal (2003) which tells the story of an affair between a high school teacher and her student through the eyes of the teacher’s supposed friend, Barbara Covett. It was shortlisted for the 2003 Man Booker Prize for fiction and released as a feature film, starring Cate Blanchett and Dame Judi Dench.
How to order
GET The Believers, (recommended price £7.99) at the offer price of £6.49, post and packing free.
To order, call the Hereford Times Bookshop on 08430 6000399 or send your cheque or postal order made payable to Hereford Times Bookshop to: Hereford Times Bookshop, PO Box 60, Helston, TR13 0TP. Allow 7-10 working days for delivery. Titles are supplied subject to availability.
Or order online at sparkledirect.com.