Sunday, January 29, 2012

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

This is the kind of book that takes your breath away and will have you thinking for quite awhile after you finish reading it. The book tells the story of Arthur Breem, a Catholic Priest and his family the McGanns using the main narrative voice of his sister Sheila who tells his story with the love she has for her brother, the doubts that she experiences and the reality of the knowledge she possess as the story progresses. At pitch point the McGanns present as the perfectly ordinary family living their lives as we might all do, until the day Art is accused of a crime against a child and his and his families lives shatter apart with alacrity.
Nothing is really as it appears, yet Haigh draws her characters with such a realistic hand they you recognise them, you all know them,be they in one camp or the other.There are secrets and lies in this tale and they are deep and painful, it is a novel populated by grieving people, their responses and reactions to situations is spot on and so is the dialogue that Haigh gives them. Her understanding of the human psyche and what motivates it at certain stages is quite phenomenal and as she draws in her supporting characters she gives them a ballast in the story, they all have a role in the telling and they all come from their own if similar views especially the devout Catholics, they are all influenced in their reactions to Arthur's plight by their own plight, if they go one way they will be excluded from all they have know and equally the opposite choice will seem them keep their positions.
This book leads you on a journey and as you move along you find yourself challenged at different points...How would I Feel? What would I Do? How Well to we really know our family and what kind of bonds do we really have if the chips come down? A very thought provoking book, it is well paced..
It is also a book filled with love in its many variations, a book that is compassionate and understanding but always realistic and human, strength and frailty entwined, history repeating, those patterns that we some times don`t even recognised that so impact on our lives.
I liked all of the characters bar the bigot but I equally understood his motivations. I thought the character of Mike was amazing and so was Kath both being shown in all their humanity, Art captivated me in all his failings and his wondrous capacity to love, the growth of the characters was also exceptional, none was the same at the end of the book, be their change good or bad, wisdom was a stand out character developement for me, it was very subtle but it was there.
This book is available in Paperback at $26.99 in all good book stores.

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