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Faith | [Jennifer Haigh]

Faith

It is the spring of 2002, and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns. Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother, Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation.
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Audible Editor Reviews

A Boston priest is accused of molesting a boy in the wake of the 2002 scandals in Jennifer Haigh’s affecting novel, masterfully performed by Therese Plummer.

A veteran and prolific narrator, Therese Plummer perfectly captures the Boston Irish Catholic ethnic enclave. Plummer’s Boston accent is spot on and the overall performance adds an immediacy to the experience. Listeners can almost hear the beer cans clanging at the family events and the rosary beads clacking at mass. Plummer effortlessly switches among distinct and varied characters and never goes over the top.

The narrator had great material to work with; Jennifer Haigh’s haunting tale will stay with the listener for a long time. Mrs. Kimble, Baker Towers, and The Condition showed Jennifer Haigh’s ability to create beautifully written, character-driven novels. Her strong writing continues with this latest effort. Readers will want to hit the pause button a few times to savor some gorgeous sentences. In Faith, Father Arthur’s tale, as well as his family’s, is told from the perspective of his loyal half-sister, Sheila. Arthur, a local boy and apple of his mother’s eye, had been with the Catholic Church since he was a boy. The allegations of child molestation shock the family and Sheila seeks to figure out what exactly happened. Haigh spins a tale of the complexities and secrets of a family. Its flawed members are all very human and relatable; each character, in turn, earns the reader’s frustration and sympathy. The issues raised result in a sometimes uncomfortable but always thought-provoking listen.

Jennifer Haigh and Therese Plummer create an impressive listen, tackling family, faith, and truth, all amid a shocking and painful chapter in recent American history. It’s a formidable task but it is done with grace and compassion. Listeners and book group participants should put it at the top of their lists. — Julie MacDonald

Publisher's Summary

It is the spring of 2002, and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.

Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother, Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation. What she discovers is more complicated than she imagined. Her strict, lace-curtain-Irish mother is living in a state of angry denial. Sheila's younger brother, Mike, to her horror, has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.

As the scandal forces long-buried secrets to surface, Faith explores the corrosive consequences of one family's history of silence - and the resilience its members ultimately find in forgiveness. Throughout, Haigh demonstrates how the truth can shatter our deepest beliefs - and restore them.

A gripping, suspenseful tale of one woman's quest for the truth, Faith is a haunting meditation on loyalty and family, doubt and belief. Elegantly crafted, sharply observed, this is Jennifer Haigh's most ambitious novel to date.

©2011 Jennifer Haigh (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (148 )
5 star
 (41)
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 (57)
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3.8 (107 )
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Story
4.0 (108 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Monica Gig Harbor, WA, United States 01-12-12
    Monica Gig Harbor, WA, United States 01-12-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    "Stick with it, especially if you've been Catholic"

    At first I thought this was a trite story about a pedophile priest, but I stuck with it and found the book to be much more profound. I am a 57 year old lapsed Catholic, who went to Catholic school for 12 years, so I could definitely relate to a lot. The family stuff relationships added richness to this book, and I found it engrossing.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer So Thomaston, ME, United States 12-05-12
    Amazon Customer So Thomaston, ME, United States 12-05-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Boston pedophia scandal handled compassionately"
    Any additional comments?

    The pedophilia scandal in the Catholic diocese of Boston in the early part of this century is certainly one that is well known by everybody who can read or who has a TV set. Jennifer Haigh uses this setting to present us with a story of a family, the McGanns, steeped in the traditions and superstitions and faith of the Boston Irish Catholics of that period.  Haigh has the daughter Sheila tell the story.  Fr. Art Breen,  the oldest son, is accused of pedophilia by a single mom whom he has befriended.  Mike, the younger brother who had been a cop for awhile, assumes his half brother is guilty.  Their mother refuses to believe the accusations, and although the newspapers jump right in, the church refuses to discuss it, Art refuses to hire a lawyer, and it is Sheila who decides she must determine the truth of what really happened.  It is her quest for the truth that allows us to see how different versions of "Faith" can exist on so many different levels.
    This is a book that has many stories:

    There's the Irish Catholic Boston pedophilia story.
    There's the story of priestly vocations - what is it that draws men to this way of life?  How do they live their lives of quiet loneliness?  What kind of training do they get to handle those difficulties?
    There's the family story:  how does the mother relate to her adult children? How does the sister reconcile her feelings for the brothers? What impact does this scandal have on the other brother's marriage?
    There's  passion play of characters in addition to the immediate family.  The accuser, the supposed victim, the various clerics and officials all contribute to the dynamics of belief, guilt, secret-keeping, forgiveness, and redemption that are the story's hallmark. 


    I found the device of using the sister to narrate and drive the story a bit confusing at first, but can't imagine a better way to bring all the divergent views and motivations together.  Therese Plummer does a spot-on job as a narrator in  giving us the Boston Catholic viewpoint and accent. This is a story written compassionately, and with great insight into the many aspects of events that happen when such an accusation is flung into the air.  Jennifer Haigh gives us a caring and sensitive look at the Catholic Church and its struggles over the past decades - going back to Vatican II and working forward.  She gives excellent explanations of rituals, traditions, and a way of life that will be familiar to those who have lived it, and understandable to those looking in from the outside.

    What she discovers, and what she does with the information is best omitted here to avoid spoilers. It's a remarkable book that treats a very distasteful subject with objectivity, understanding, and empathy, while allowing the reader to process it from his or her own perspective.  Well worth the read.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judy Engelman Scottsdale, Arizona United States 11-15-12
    Judy Engelman Scottsdale, Arizona United States 11-15-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Riveting and timely"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is an incredible story about a topic that affects everyone whether they are catholic or not. Similar to Doubt, this book makes us look inside at our preconceptions, prejudices and judgments and generalize to how they influence how we approach other people. We are humbled and amazed at the unfolding story.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The protagonist was exquisitely human, self effacing and heroic. He was a very sympathetic man.


    What does Therese Plummer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The reader's voices and intonations, her reactions and pace make this like a well done play where one can actually visualize the characters.


    Who was the most memorable character of Faith and why?

    Again the priest was the most memorable because he was the common demoninator and his plight of solitude and the yearning for connection is one with which we all struggle.


    Any additional comments?

    Well worth it!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carmen Chile 10-19-12
    Carmen Chile 10-19-12 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An actual theme, so terrible, delicated treated"

    Pedofilia in catholic churches, is something we are always reading disgusted in papers. Here is a terrible and wonderfull story that makes you see so many angles.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AP pa 07-24-12
    AP pa 07-24-12 Member Since 2011

    Ann

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    "Excellent Story!"

    This audiobook was very good! Coming from catholic roots, it was very interesting to me. It gave a lot of background of the priesthood and their emotions. The storyline was very interesting and the narrator was great too!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Eaton 07-08-11
    Lisa Eaton 07-08-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Ugh!"

    This book had such potential. I thought the premise was unique, since I generally jump to the conclusion of gulity when I hear about a priest accused of molestation or abuse. But I am distracted by two things the author has done: She has, several times, and I'm less than half way through the book, said things to the effect of 'details of which I will get to later.' I find that kind of carrot shows a lack of writing ability. In addition, when considering if his brother, the priest, is guilty of abusing an eight year old boy, he is searching his memory for signs that his priest brother is gay. BEING GAY DOES NOT EQUAL CHILD MOLESTER! They are two very, very different things, completely unrelated. This shallow, ignorant view feeds the ignorance of anyone who doesn't personally know someone who is gay. I am finding this so offensive, I don't think I'll be able to finish the book. Lastly, the book is read by Therese Plummer, whose voice I can't help but associate with my daughter's audiobook from the American Girl series. This is no fault of the reader, the author, nor the publisher. This is just my audio association that reflects negatively on the story.

    17 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Catherina Cape Town, South Africa 08-07-13
    Catherina Cape Town, South Africa 08-07-13 Member Since 2009
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    "layered and finely nuancedHaig gets better and bet"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Faith to be better than the print version?

    The characters come alive in the narration


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Faith?

    When the priest whispers "help me" to the young drug addicted mother he has been helping


    What about Therese Plummer’s performance did you like?

    In this case less is really more - there was just enough of the irish brogue in her voice to envoke a lingering irishness in the characters, and she does not fall into the trap of trying to assume a "male" voice for male characters


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There were several - one would be hard to single out


    Any additional comments?

    I have now read all four titles in the Audible catalogue by Jennifer Haig, and greatly enjoyed all of them, but the last two have been the best

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AWB Houston 05-04-13
    AWB Houston 05-04-13 Member Since 2010
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    24
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    "Dificult subject"

    This is a very horrible subject. I never would have read this book if it weren't for book club. However I did find it an engrossing story. The reader is fabulous! The book puts a new perspective on a despicable subject. It teaches me once again there are always more than one way to look at anything.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Issaquah, WA, United States 02-17-13
    Joe Issaquah, WA, United States 02-17-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "stunningly boring"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    an actual story within the first half hour, or a narrator whose voice did not put me to sleep.


    What was most disappointing about Jennifer Haigh’s story?

    i did not last long enough to be actually disappointed.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    the narrator used the same verbal cadences over, and over, and over, and over, and...


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    annoyance.


    Any additional comments?

    i forgot how to get my money back. how do i get my money back?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    HeLEN tucson, Azerbaijan 02-06-13
    HeLEN tucson, Azerbaijan 02-06-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Sympathetic treatment"
    If you could sum up Faith in three words, what would they be?

    Priests, catholic families, victims, and even those trying to exploit the molestation crisis in the Catholic church are all treated with empathy and insight.


    What could Jennifer Haigh have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    A less melodramatic ending


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Therese Plummer?

    while it was OK, especially the Boston accents, overall the narration was only fair


    Who was the most memorable character of Faith and why?

    Father Art because is is a mixture of genuine generosity and stunted humanity


    Any additional comments?

    Topical and a good antidote to knee jerk conclusions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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