Paperback review: The Believers, By Zoë Heller

Intimate portrait of a family and its monstrous matriarch

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The Independent Culture

Heller's 2008 novel gets some rebranding in a new series here, and it's worth the extra attention.

Matriarch Audrey Litvinoff is the kind of older woman monstrosity that Heller does so well: originally from England, she marries her Jewish lawyer Marxist husband in the early 1960s, and we catch up with her on the day that he has a stroke, 40 years later. Audrey is truly horrific, bullying her daughters Rosa and Karla, yet blind to everything her miscreant adopted son, Lenny, does. She shouts and swears and shoves and insists all the way through, with only a small indication that it's her husband's philandering that made her this way. Terrifically political, yet an intimate portrait of family dynamics.