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!