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Book Review – Faithful Place by Tana French

Faithful Place
by Tana French
416 pages
Published July 13, 2010
Mystery/thriller; literary fiction

It’s been a year and a half since I last read The Likeness by Tana French. A long year and a half. In that time, only two other books have been as good as The Likeness. In that time, I feared I had built Tana up to something that she couldn’t possibly live up to.

In Faithful Place, Frank Mackey (if you read The Likeness, Frank is Cassie’s boss from when she was doing undercover work) is called back to his old hometown when his brothers find an old suitcase that belonged to Frank’s ex-girlfriend, Rosie, stuffed behind an old fireplace. Back when they were 19, Frank and Rosie were going to run off together, elope and start a life. On the night they were supposed to meet, Rosie never showed up, but when Frank found the note that Rosie left, telling him she didn’t mean to hurt him and hopefully he’d understand, he left that town and hasn’t been back. Now, 22 years later, Frank is back to track down Rosie. He’d always assumed she’d just started a new life without him, but now he has to examine the possibility that maybe Rosie hadn’t meant to stand him up, that she’d wanted to leave with him but someone had stopped her. Going back home isn’t easy. The locals don’t trust him, his family doesn’t trust him, and it’s all Frank can do to stay detached from the drama.

Where to begin in this love fest?

French has an amazing ability to carve out her characters. Frank’s emotions and feelings and memories are so real, that I wanted to take Frank aside and give him a big hug. My heart ached for him as I watched him develop like a polaroid picture. As his history began to take shape, his actions today were understandable.

At one point I thought French was going to break my heart. I started reasoning with myself on why it would be okay if she went in this direction, that I could justify and excuse and rationalize why it was okay that this thing was going to happen. But she didn’t break my heart, she took what I considered to be the harder road, and for that I respected her. She didn’t give Frank this moral ‘out’ that I thought she might.

One of the things that I love about French’s books is that the crime part of them are committed by everyday people. She doesn’t have serial killers or scenarios that would only happen to gang members or ex-Marines. These are regular people living regular lives. This kind of setting makes the novel that much more powerful, as I wonder how someone could have taken another’s life.

I didn’t notice this in The Likeness, but I definitely noticed this in Faithful Place: the use of dialect. It really helped me hear the voices and put myself in their city. Tell me you can’t hear a lovely Irish accent here:

Ah, stop; the poor boy had acne. It went away after. I wasn’t bothered about his skin, anyway; I was just delighted I had my first fella. I was dying to him him home and show him off to all of you, but, sure, you know yourself.

I don’t really know what else to tell you, other than if you haven’t read any of Tana French’s books, or if you’ve read one or two, you should buy this book right now. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to one of the best books you’ll read this year.

Rating: 98 out of 100

PS I had wanted to have a video ready to post for this review, but I’m having webcam issues. I’ve decided I need to sing a song to Tana French to tell her how much I love her. My only problem is: why are the two webcams I have (one internal one external) not syncing the audio and video? Anyone know? The problem happens with both cameras! GAH!

PPS I drew pictures for this video! With stick figures! And crayons!

Tana French’s website

Tana French will be chatting live online on Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 1:30pm at the Penguin Watercooler. I’ll totally be there, pretending not to stalk her.


21 Responses to “Book Review – Faithful Place by Tana French”

  1. bethany (Dreadlock Girl)

    I knew you’d review this!!! Every time I saw it mentioned I have thought of you. And yes, I have yet to read anything by Tana!! Eeek! I’ll get on that.


  2. Beth F

    I too haven’t read French yet. So many books, not enough time.

    I love your enthusiasm for her work.


  3. Kay

    I’m glad to know that you loved this one so much. Les of Lesley’s Book Nook is a big, big fan as well. I read IN THE WOODS and really, really liked it. I even liked the ending that everyone was so upset about. I tried THE LIKENESS right away, but in one of those weird things, couldn’t get into it. I know. Weird. I’ll try again because I really want to read this one. Maybe I should reread IN THE WOODS. Wish I could come to the Live Chat, but I’ll have book group that afternoon.


  4. Natalie @ Cofee and a Book Chick

    I haven’t read French yet and am feeling like I’m totally missing out. That’s it, I’m putting it on my wish list at PBS! Great post!


  5. Jenn's Bookshelves

    Whohoo! I’m so glad you loved this one. I haven’t been lucky enough to get my hands on a copy yet (I’m not bitter) but I can’t wait to dive in once I do. French’s writing is a form of artwork for me; I can get lost in her books!


  6. Sandy

    Now that is interesting. I’ve read hot and cold on this one, and I really really wanted it to be hot. I am still aglow over The Likeness after all of this time…what an amazing book. I wasn’t really invested in Frank much, so I was surprised that French decided to target him in this venture. But you loved it. OK, so maybe I will chase this one down. I really want the audio, and my library hasn’t picked it up yet. Time to do a full court press.


  7. zibilee

    After reading so many rave reviews of The Likeness, I went out and bought myself a copy, though I haven’t read it yet. I know that this is series that I am going to love and I am glad now to know that the third disappoint at all. Great review, Trish! I also think it’s cool that you went all mixed media on this one!


  8. Heather

    YES!!! I’m so thrilled that you were able to give such a rave review of this, and now I’ll definitely be getting my hands on a copy. I might even buy it brand new (which I almost never do). Thanks Trish!


  9. Literate Housewife

    I loved, loved, loved IN THE WOODS and will be reading THE LIKENESS very soon. I’m definitely going to jump on this as soon as it’s available from the library. I feel like I’ve found a new friend and a new genre (to me) when I finished IN THE WOODS. Such a wonderful novel!


  10. Stephanie

    I loved this book as well (in fact my review is going up on my blog later on tomorrow)!


  11. Steph

    I posted my review of this one today and also loved it! I’m pretty sure Tana French is a literary goddess, because I just can’t get enough of her books either.

    I don’t think I loved this one as much as The Likeness, but I still tore through it like my life depended on it. Whatever will we do while we wait for the next book?


  12. Stephanie

    Jealous jealous jealous that you already got to read this! I don’t even have a copy yet. I rarely buy books, but I will definitely splurge on this one.


  13. Amanda

    Ok, I need NEED to see those drawings of yours. I am a Tana French fan whore. So you understand.


  14. Bree

    Add me to the pile of those jealous that you’ve been able to read this already! I liked In The Woods and The Likeness about as much as you did so I’m definitely thinking I’ll love this one just as much too. French has quickly become one of my new fave writers.


  15. Ryan

    I still haven’t read The Likeness yet, but I really really want to read both of these.


  16. bookmagic

    I loved her first two books and will be reading this one soon enough. Glad to hear it lives up to her others


  17. Holly

    I’m not familiar with the author but both books sound terrific.


  18. Nishita

    I have been reading such great things about this book and Tana French in general in the blogosphere.

    Somehow, I just never got around to reading her books. I should start with In the Woods, is that correct?


  19. Kate

    I am wondering what the other two books were that you liked as much as the Likeness…. The Passage (which I just finished and yes, it was seriously a 100/100…. but what is the other? I love Tana French; having read her two other books. I just started Faithful Place tonight. Its is one of those books that I am promising myself I wont rush though, even though I kinda do…her writing just pulls me along.


  20. Help4NewMoms ()

    I am a big fan of Tana French’s work and loved Faithful Place, too. I agree with you completely about the dialect, her character development and her uncanny ability to keep doing what she does. I have to say her mystery writing seems pretty unique to me. I slow down when I get to the end of her books because I don’t want them to end. I get a little crush on all her characters, too! Can’t wait for her next triumph.


  21. Faithful Place, by Tana French « Alison McCarty

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