Faithful Place: What if You Were Wrong?
What if you found out that a specific moment in your life didn’t really occur the way you thought it did? What if you played out that moment in your mind for the past 22 years and realized that the truth of what you thought you saw and heard was not what actually happened?
That’s exactly the reality Francis Mackey, the main character of Tana French's novel Faithful Place, finds himself facing at the onset of chapter one. Francis believed that his girlfriend, Rose Daly, abandoned her plans to run away to London with him 22 years ago. The two arranged to start a new life far from home, but when Rose doesn’t show up at the scheduled meeting time and place Francis is forced to continue his life without her.
As the story unfolds the reader learns that Francis was leaving his childhood home as much to be with his girlfriend as he was to escape his family. When he realizes that Rose won’t be joining him on his journey he believes it is because of the character flaws of his family members.
Through Francis, French introduces the reader to flashback moments that reveal the pain and unpleasantness of the main character’s childhood. After being away from home for 22 years Francis is forced to deal with the demented family members he ran away from so long ago.
As an adult Francis refused to introduce his wife or daughter to all but one member of his family. When he walked out the doors of his childhood home in Faithful Place he never intended to return. As the novel unfolds French does a great job of mixing the past and present. Through these details the reader begins to understand exactly why Francis had no intention of ever going back home.
French does an amazing job of helping the reader learn about characters through their interactions with other characters. There are intimate and fearful moments captured between brothers, sweet and loving moments between lovers and angry and painful moments between husbands and wives and parents and their children.
As Francis is forced to peel away the minutes and hours that make up the mystery of what really happened on the night that he and Rose planned to run away the reader is introduced to a gruesome reality.
The journey of this novel is as much about the separation of two lovers as it is about the struggle of a dysfunctional family and the impacts that one member of the family can have on all the others.
This story is not just a mystery. It is an intimate look at the complex interactions of family members that carve and create delusional and dysfunctional personalities. In the end the reader will not question Francis’ desire to keep his wife and child away from the rest of his family. As the novel closes the deepest, darkest aspects of a dysfunctional family enable the reader to understand exactly why Francis chose to run away from home in the first place.