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14th July
written by Steph

Even casual readers of this little blog probably know that I have a deep admiration for Tana French. An admiration that perhaps borders on the cusp of obsession. I devour her books when I get my hands on them, and find myself completely absorbed by the world and the characters she so skillfully crafts for her readers. I’ve been to Ireland, and yet reading French’s books, I sometimes feel like her fiction is more vivid and real than my own experiences! It could be that she draws back the veil on a culture and a people the way that only a native Dubliner can, but I also think it’s just a testament to how compelling an author she is. She could probably write about my hometown of Toronto and make me think I’ve never even set foot there! 😉 Last year after reading French’s debut novel, In The Woods, I prowled the apartment restlessly until The Likeness made its way to me from the library. I was so caught up by French’s characters, I pretty much couldn’t read anything else in that time in between. I just wanted more. I tried to pace myself, but I pretty much rampaged through The Likeness, loving every moment of it, only to feel utterly bereft at the end of it. Why? Because I had exhausted all of French’s published works to date. What was an avid fan to do? Well, I’ll tell you: an avid fan does what everyone else does. They wait. Maybe they’re antsy and anxious the whole time, but them’s the breaks. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait quite as long as some, because for my birthday back in February, my wonderful Nashville girls, Abby & Trisha, gifted me with an advance review copy! I love getting books as gifts, but can you imagine my delight at being given a book that hadn’t even been released yet? I mean, I got it a full FIVE months before its publication!!! I realize that I am a very lucky girl with the very best of friends. Now you’d probably expect me to dive right in, but I decided to restrain myself. I realized I would probably not want to write about the book so far in advance of its official release. I know there are plenty of Tana French fans out there, so it would be cruel to talk about how awesome this book was without any of you being able to do anything about it. I also wanted to wait until I was in a bit of a reading slump when I needed a book that I knew I would love to snap me out of it. All to say that I managed to wait until the end of April before cracking this sucker open, and then proceeded to once again race through it in about three days. In a similar vein to her previous novels, Faithful Place features a new lead protagonist, but one who was first introduced in The Likeness. While that was Cassie Maddox’s story, this is the story of Frank Mackey, her previous boss in the undercover unit. When he was a young lad, Frank and his girlfriend Rosie decided to make a break for it and start a life together in London. The night they were set to run away together, Frank waited and waited, but Rosie never showed up. Thinking she had tossed him over, Frank takes off on his own and never hears from her again. Now 20 years later, Rosie’s suitcase is found behind a fireplace in one of the abandoned tenement houses on Frank’s family’s street – Faithful Place. This discovery causes Frank to finally do the one thing he had promised himself he’d never do: return home. But with the ghost of Rosie haunting him for two decades, Frank knows he owes it to her to find out what happened that night, and maybe he can finally find the peace that has eluded him for so long. Is anyone going to be surprised when I say that I loved this book? Of course not! But I did! While I’m not sure I loved Faithful Place as much as I did The Likeness – I found the mystery a little more predictable here – it was a still a brilliant, breathtaking read. It was wonderful to be plunged back into the vibrant, gritty streets of Dublin, back reeling in the depths of French’s character’s minds. I’ve said it before, but my favorite thing about French’s books is that as much as they are thrilling, they are all the more satisfying because of how vivid her characterizations are. You spend so much time in her characters’ heads that you really begin to feel attuned to them, and their motivations always feel like they come from a place that is honestly human. Sometimes mysteries can feel contrived as authors strain to make all the pieces fall into place, but that is never an issue here. Faithful Place titillates and entertains, but it is also a strongly sensory novel where the boundaries between reading and pure experience slowly dissolve. If you haven’t read any Tana French before, please run out and do so right away. Faithful Place went on sale yesterday, so there’s no need to wait in anguish to get your hands on this mesmerizing read. Also, this book is completely stand-alone and makes no reference to either of her previous novels so you don’t have to worried about being left in the dark or ruining anything that comes before. This is a wonderfully penetrating novel that captures the magic of the living and breathing streets of Ireland in its pages with keen insight and piercing accuracy. It’s a fun read for the summer (or really, any time of year) and of course has whet my appetite for French’s next book. I can’t wait to see who she features next, but as far as I’m concerned French can do no wrong! Rating: 4.5 out of 5


  1. I still haven’t read any Tana French – I’ll try to fit one in sometime this Summer 🙂

  2. 07/14/2010

    I am so glad you liked this one! I will be surprised if it tops The Likeness for me, but you never know. Either way, I know I will love it.

  3. 07/14/2010

    I have been stealthily plotting how I’m going to buy and read this w/o enraging the husband, with whom I’m reading Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, and we’re in the middle of The Confusion. Do I have to wait till the end? No! No!

  4. 07/14/2010

    I just came from another site and saw a review of this book there, and the first thing I wondered was if you had yet gotten a chance to read this one! I am so glad that you ended up loving it and am really looking forward to starting this series. I have a copy of In the Woods, but it looks like I am going to have to be prepared to grab the others very quickly as well! Very nice review, your enthusiasm shines through!

  5. 07/14/2010

    @ Jackie: Since you have enjoyed Sophie Hannah, I really think you will love Tana French. She is the better author in my book, so I hope you do get the chance to give her a try!
    @ Stephanie: This didn’t top The Likeness for me, but it was still a rollicking good read that I enjoyed every minute of. I think I just liked Cassie more as a character than Frank (though he was certainly interesting in his own right), and the mystery here was perhaps a bit more conventional. But all the great stuff from French’s other books is here in full force, so it’s definitely a winner.
    @ Girl Detective: Do whatever you must to get your hands on this one! You will love it! Your husband will simply have to understand!
    @ zibilee: Tana French is so addictive that you will absolutely want to have her other books on hand when you finish your first one! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on her… I hope you love her as much as I do!

  6. 07/14/2010

    I love Tana French too! I was so impressed with ‘In The Woods’ and ‘The Likeness’ showed that she really is an amazing writer who really draws her readers into her story because her characters seem so real. I can’t wait to read this!

  7. 07/14/2010

    So glad you liked this as much as I did!

    As a side note, I saw you said that Jackie enjoys Sophie Hannah. French and Hannah like each other’s works, so it makes Hannah’s books all that more intriguing to me!

  8. Kathleen

    I still haven’t read any of her books and I have no excuse. I have The Likeness as well as In the Woods on my shelves at home. Now I am 3 behind!

  9. 07/14/2010

    My copy is calling me but not yet so I can’t read fully here yet. Caught just enough to know you loved it and that is always good enough for me.

  10. 07/15/2010

    This whole series sounds amazing. I need to read Tana French before too long!

  11. 07/15/2010

    @ chasing bawa: Exactly, it’s her characters that really win the day with her stories. By the end, you really feel like you know them and what they’ve been through, and you can’t help but be invested in them. I hope you get to read Faithful Place soon!
    @ trish: It’s always great when you find a fellow fan of a well-loved author! And I’ll be really curious to see what you think of Sophie Hannah. I think it’s hard for any author to compete with Tana French (at least in my mind), but Hannah does write an enjoyable thriller.
    @ Kathleen: If you already have the books, you really have no excuse! Get cracking! You won’t regret it! 😀
    @ Frances: There weren’t any spoilers in this post, at least nothing that the back cover doesn’t give away. Mostly this was just a gushy love fest! 😉 Can’t wait to read your thoughts on this one!
    @ Nymeth: I hope you do get a chance to try Tana French soon! And I hope you love her as much as I do!

  12. Meg

    So glad that, after all the waiting, this one didn’t disappoint! I definitely know what you mean about not wanting to read something way in advance of its date — only to then not be able to discuss it with anyone, or annoy all the other major fans out there by gloating about how awesome it is.

    I’ve heard such good things about French and have In The Woods in my bookcase. I’m really looking forward to reading it — and, eventually, this one too!

    As a side note, I love how you make a personal connection to the books in each of your reviews… makes them so well-rounded and much more enjoyable to read! 🙂

  13. 07/16/2010

    Like with the Steig Larsen series, I’ve yet to read ANY books from this series either. I better get busy, because by the sound of your review I’m missing a great author…Thanks guys!

  14. I’m really not sure that modern crime novels are for me. I’m saying that from an informed position, from not having overly enjoyed any I have read. I read In the Woods last summer and wasn’t blown away and wouldn’t have run out to read anything else by Tana French BUT you have made this sound really appealing! I want to defy you but I trust your opinion 😉 I’ll give her a second chance and I think she’ll make perfect light, addictive reading for when my current stockpile of “trashy” reads are depleted.

  15. 07/16/2010

    @ Meg: Yes, I figured it would not really be all that helpful to post a review of a book months before anyone else could actually read it! Even though I read it back in April, I waited until now to post about it… and considering the delay, I think it’s a good sign that I still remembered so much about the book! Just goes to show how involved I got in it!
    And thanks so much for your sweet comment about feeling that I really put myself into my reviews. I certainly try!
    @ diane: I think the nice thing about these books is that they aren’t a traditional series, because each book follows a different character. It makes the wait between books slightly more bearable… but just slightly! 😉
    @ Claire: You know, I’m not a huge modern crime reader either, but something about French’s writing really works for me. I do think In The Woods was her weakest of the three books (even though I still loved it a lot), so I think you’d be well served by trying another one of her books and seeing how that goes for you. She’s an author that I can easily read for eight-hours non-stop and still want to keep going!

  16. 07/19/2010

    I just finished this last week and reviewed it. Like you say, it’s not my favorite, but she is just such a gifted writer. This was the only one that felt more “mystery” to me. Her others were more general literary fiction with a mystery framework. Love her and can’t wait for the next one. This one particularly was so gritty. I want to visit Dublin!

  17. 07/19/2010

    Wow, you really seem to love her books. I haven’t read any…crazy since I am such a thriller buff. I must pick out these books to read soon.

  18. 07/19/2010

    @ jenn: I think French really does Dublin justice in her books. They’re the next best thing to actually jumping on a plane! And I agree that this one feels more like a straightforward mystery, whereas the other ones seem somehow bigger than that. Whatever she’s doing though, it works!
    @ Nishita: Oh you really must try French if you love thrillers! She’s absolutely my favourite author when it comes to those types of books!

  19. 07/21/2010

    I’ve been furiously reading The Likeness in anticipation of her new novel, which I just borrowed from the library. Now it sounds like I could have read them out of order–I was afraid plot would be given away if I read the third before the second. Oh well, I’m thoroughly enjoying The Likeness–you’re right her books are totally absorbing. Glad to hear the third is equally as good.

  20. 07/22/2010

    @ Danielle: Yes, I wouldn’t recommend reading The Likeness before In The Woods, but Faithful Place can be read at any time, I think. So glad to hear you’re enjoying French… always happy to hear from another fan!

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