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Hell is other people

Zöe Heller's first two novels won her a reputation as a leading chronicler of middle-class viciousness. Her latest is equally acerbic but also introduces a subtler and more satisfying note of compassion

By Laura Barber   October 2008

The Believers by Zoë Heller (Fig Tree, £16.99)

The moment that propels Joel Litvinoff and Audrey Howard from a half-hearted one night stand into a 40-year marriage could easily have gone either way. When, in the prologue to Zoë Heller’s new novel, Audrey first observes Howard from the self-conscious sidelines of a crowded party, she can’t decide whether he is “very charming or very irritating.” The next day, as Howard tries to assess their impromptu first date (an awkward visit to her parents), his mood rocks between bafflement, amusement and frustration. And even though they end up in bed together…

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