Feature

Novel of the week: The Believers by Zoë Heller

With<em> </em><em>The Believers, </em>the author of <em>What Was She Thinking? </em>may have created her finest social satire yet. &nbsp;

(Harper, $25.95)

Zoë Heller has become “a master of misanthropy,” said Heller McAlpin in the Los Angeles Times. Her latest novel—like her 2003 best-seller What Was She Thinking?—is built around an “unpleasant, outrageous, sharply funny” protagonist.

In the leftist matriarch Audrey Howard, Heller “paints a marvelous portrait” of a woman whose cynicism has hardened from a pose into a sort of sickness, said Mary Ambrose in The Boston Globe. After her husband, a crusading lawyer, slips into a coma, Audrey must confront revelations about his past even as she grapples with their children’s failure to live up to her expectations. One, Karla, has become a morose housewife struggling to get pregnant. But Rosa’s offense is worse—abandoning the family’s proud atheism for Orthodox Judaism.

Heller’s “perverse wit” deftly exposes the “sanctimonious attitudes of true believers,” religious and otherwise, said Connie Ogle in The Miami Herald. But she does something more, showing how Audrey’s hypocrisies are a burden even to herself. Heller humanizes her “often prickly New Yorkers” and allows them to grow—making The Believers her finest social satire yet.

Recommended

The daily gossip: July 23, 2021
Simone Biles.
Daily gossip

The daily gossip: July 23, 2021

Andie MacDowell embraced her gray hair against her managers' wishes
Andie MacDowell
power move

Andie MacDowell embraced her gray hair against her managers' wishes

Ted Lasso does it again?
Ted Lasso.
Picture of Jeva LangeJeva Lange

Ted Lasso does it again?

Most Popular

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?
Tom Brady, Joe Biden
Quotables

Tom Brady's 'gentle' roast of Trump at Biden's White House: 'Deeply vicious'?

Rapinoe addresses resounding Olympic loss to Sweden
Megan Rapinoe
'dumb stuff'

Rapinoe addresses resounding Olympic loss to Sweden

Melania Trump reportedly tried 4 times to block an election night party at the White House
Donald and Melania Trump.
should have listened to her

Melania Trump reportedly tried 4 times to block an election night party at the White House