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3.0 out of 5 starsA Cast of Characters
Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2020
Jane Gardam has assembled a cast of characters reminiscent of “Doc Martin”, and the village, as well. Though the farce towards the end gets a bit too, well, farcical, I’m glad I escaped into this book after two WWII stories. Chuckles abound. I do still wonder what happens with the population at The Priors now.
When Holly Fox dies just after giving birth to Faith, no one can believe it. She was a force of nature, irrepressibly healthy. Her mother Thomasina Fox is so devastated, she runs off with a 72-year-old general for a holiday in Egypt. She won't have anything to do with the baby.
No one, in fact, is interested in Faith. Her father Andrew Braithwaite hires irresponsible nannies and finally hands her off to his saintly brother Jack, who's running an experimental religious community on the North Yorkshire moors. When Andrew goes to visit the baby, he never sees her. All he succeeds in doing is sleeping with Jack's wife.
Almost everyone in the novel is dotty, deranged, damaged or pathologically selfish, except maybe the old Tibetan woman living on Jack's farm who feeds and cares for Faith.
Faith seems to stand for a faith in God or goodness that everyone is losing. Nobody will commit to Faith or even look her in the eye. All dressed up in swaddling Tibetan baby clothes, Faith has a big knitted eye hanging around her neck.
I enjoyed most of this novel immensely until towards the end, when the incessant dithering and blathering of the characters began to wear thin. Perhaps the story went on too long. Neither humor nor symbolism should be belabored. So despite Gardam's wonderful writing talent, I wouldn't rate FAITH FOX as highly as OLD FILTH and THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT. But I'd still recommend it.
Jane Gardam pushes a few boundaries in this quite original and rather curious novel. At times it works brilliantly well, at other times it's interesting, but ... There are some downsides, such as a rather weakly motivated Jack, the layabouts' Teesside accents that are far too Yorkshire, and a main character - Andrew - in the first part of the novel who just seems to fade away as things move on. Messages, themes and undercurrents seem to run thick and furious, but sometimes don't really seem to lead anywhere. On the plus side, Jane Gardam's writing is excellent as usual, though I was annoyed by several typos in the Kindle edition. Some characterisations are gorgeous, there are a few good laughs and many of the people seem so deliciously real. Its curious, original style is intriguing at times, but a bit infuriating at others.
4.0 out of 5 starsbeautifully crafted and again rises fully to the expectations of ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 18, 2015
Somewhat broad in its material my goodness am I really criticising Gardam? Heart stabbingly hilarious and above all insightful, beautifully crafted and again rises fully to the expectations of grateful admirers.