cover image Faithful


Alice Hoffman, read by Amber Tamblyn. S&S Audio, , unabridged, 7 CDs, 8.5 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-5082-2511-9

Actress Tamblyn, known for playing the title role in the TV series Joan of Arcadia, inhabits Hoffman’s story so naturally it is almost as if it was written for her. The novel opens with a car accident involving two high school seniors on a snowy night on Long Island. The accident leaves one of the young women, Helen, in a coma and the other, Shelby Richmond, who was driving the car, seemingly determined to punish herself in perpetuity for what happened to her friend. Tamblyn captures the bleak despair of the novel’s opening and then slowly, gingerly, traces Shelby’s fledgling attempts to build a life for herself. Sometimes Shelby’s early behavior is appalling, but it stems from her self-hatred and survivor’s guilt; the challenge for Tamblyn is to depict the raw fury of Shelby’s aftermath but also show listeners enough of the character’s goodness and humanity that they champion her cause. She portrays Shelby as tough as nails but also achingly vulnerable. She also turns in fabulous interpretations of other characters, particularly of Maravelle, a single mom trying to make ends meet in New York whom Shelby befriends later in life. A Simon & Schuster hardcover. (Nov.)