In a short blurb? We talk books.
Was Tana French’s Faithful Place all the first few pages promised me it would be? Yes! … and no.
It pains me to criticize this book because I love French’s writing. I love the language, the Irish slang… and I absolutely envy her metaphors and similes. She describes things in perfect ways I would never have thought of, that are descriptive without being wordy or weighty, and make a world, a moment, an emotion, lift off the page and come alive. The intrigue of a double murder held me throughout. The plot was fairly well-paced and kept me guessing.
Something was missing. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the book was lacking something. And if I had to point to any one thing, it would be character development. Don’t get me wrong… the characters were well-defined, they had dynamic moments when they realized something about themselves or another and changed a bit, grew up. But overall, I didn’t feel much real emotion toward any of them. (Having the book writtenas the first-person account of the hard-ass main character probably has something to do with it.) I didn’t feel particularly attached to the characters (as I did in Art of Fielding), and the story fell just short of engrossing (not quite on the Michael Koryta or Suzanne Collins level of story-telling… but then again, how many authors are?). At the end of the book, I felt a little like I just read a melodrama, complete with internal conflict, villains, and helpless women; fight scenes, love-making, and a great setting… and very little surprises.
Read if: You value good writing over a good story, you love Ireland, or you’re interested in the dynamics and power of space and “home”. In a way, the book was very much a return-home narrative, a finding home narrative, and it hit dead-on that feeling of simultaneously belonging and not belonging in a home left behind. Space molds every bit of this story, which can be awfully fascinating for those interested in this area of lit theory.
Do NOT read if: You’re looking for an action-packed thriller, you’re looking for a book where you can laugh and cry aloud, or you hate Ireland! (If you hate Ireland… shame on you!)