Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Loss, love and life are explored in wonderful fashion by acclaimed author Hoffman in this touching page turner of a novel.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Scribner UK
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781471157714

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Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend's future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Moving from a life in her parents' basement to a life in New York City, Shelby remains damaged by the loss of her best friend, stumbling through life blindly and fighting desperately to become connected to anything at all. But, as she grows, she discovers emotion, survival and happiness, bundled up with dogs, food, books and men she's probably best avoiding… Deep in New York City she find a circle of lost and found souls, and the angel who's been watching over her since that fateful night all those years ago…

Alice Hoffman is the bestselling author of over thirty works of fiction, and is based in Boston. Despite having her seen her name in various places, and her books recommend in many a bookstore, I'd never picked up a book by Hoffman before. Faithful was my first foray into her world and, on the strength of this book, it definitely won't be the last!

Faithful tells the tale of Shelby Richmond, a woman whom, I'm told, has appeared previously in some of Hoffman's short stories. Here the reader encounters Shelby as a young girl, recovering after a traumatic car crash that has left her best friend comatose. Dwelling in her parent's basement, Shelby becomes a ghost of her former self, haunted by an accident that she still blames herself for. Only a chance decision to leave town with the local drug dealer has her starting a new life in New York, where she soon discovers that the human relationships she once tried so hard to ignore, can become the foundation for happiness and recovery. If this all sounds a little saccharine to you – don't worry. Hoffman has created a fantastic character in Shelby – she's real, grounded, relatable and completely infuriating half the time. She makes a lot of bad decisions, but the reader is with her every step of the way, even if some of those steps are spent begging her not to do what you think she's about to do…

Mix into that some rather touching relationships – between mother and daughter, lover and lover, human and animal etc, and this becomes an enthralling tale that works on several different levels – whether just as the story of a young woman growing up, or as a reflection on grief, guilt and moving on. Either way, it's remarkably well written and paced – making it a very hard book to put down and leaving the reader with characters who they'll beg for a chance to visit again. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.

For further reading I'd recommend Father's Day by Simon Van Booy – another book that explores growth, loss and relationships in a fashion that keeps the reader gripped and avoids overdoing the sentimentality. You might also enjoy The Zero and the One by Ryan Ruby and The Story of My Purity by Francesco Pacifico.

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Buy Faithful by Alice Hoffman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Faithful by Alice Hoffman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Faithful by Alice Hoffman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Faithful by Alice Hoffman at


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