by Alice Hoffman
Recently I have read a number of cozy mysteries and commented on the sacrifice of character development to the attentions of a multi-threaded plot. As a reviewer I need to evaluate a book based on genre expectations. Just as I don’t expect an apple to taste like an orange, I should not expect a cozy mystery to have the same characteristics as a book in the wider class of “novel.”
Faithful by Alice Hoffman is a novel categorized by Simon & Schuster, its publisher, as Women’s Fiction. While I agree that women tend to be more interested than men in following stories of regeneration of damaged individuals, I think many men would appreciate this book as well. It centers on Shelby who is driving when an accident occurs that puts her best friend into a coma. To summarize this story into that one sentence makes the book sound trite, and it is anything but trite. With excellent character development, the novel draws the reader into Shelby’s world of pain and confusion as she struggles to survive a past she can not change.
It is important to participate in Shelby’s pain and the ups and downs of her journey as close to first hand as possible. Therefore, I provide no specifics that would interfere with the relationship of the reader to Shelby. The number of other characters in the book is limited as Shelby holds others at arm’s length, but they are interesting and sufficiently developed according to the part they play in Shelby’s story. Hoffman’s descriptive powers are good–both of physical setting and emotional climate. Her sensitive and realistic treatment of difficult events and her plot development make Faithful a novel worth reading and recommending. It is due for publication on November 1, 2016.
I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.