Joel Litvinoff is defending a group of Arabs (one year after 9/11) in court when he keels over from a stroke. His years as a radical lawyer end as he lies in the hospital hooked up to tubes. His British-born wife Audrey, who has shared forty years with him, finds it impossible to leave his bedside or imagine life without him. Their daughters Karla and Rosa have troubles of their own. Karla, overweight and suffering from low self-esteem, is so grateful for a husband that she never considers whether or not she’s happy. Rosa has just returned from four years in Cuba where she grew disillusioned by the regime and now attends services at an Orthodox Synagogue. Lenny, the adopted brother, son of a radical serving a life prison sentence, is always stoned or cadging money to get stoned. Zoë Heller writes with such zest about the family secrets. Once I finished The Believers (HarperCollins, $25.99), I wanted to go back and reread it to enjoy Heller’s humor and her commentary on family and politics.
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