Book Review: The False Friend – Myla Goldberg

Title: The False Friend
Author: Myla Goldberg
ISBN: 9780385527217
Pages: 272
Release Date: October 5, 2010
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Literary Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Celia and Djuna were the best of friends growing up.  However, their friendship had a mercurial nature – sometimes they were as close as sisters, and at other times Celia couldn’t stand Djuna.  Walking home from school one day, Celia sees Djuna fall into some sort of hole, but instead of telling the truth, because of her frustration with Djuna at the time she lies and says that she saw Djuna get into a stranger’s car.  Twenty years later, Celia can no longer live with her lie and returns home to confess the truth about what happened to Djuna.

Review:

From the beginning of The False Friend, the reader is biased against Celia.  After all, she told a horrendous lie, and while she was just a child, it has taken her twenty years to come forward about her misdeed.  Additionally, it seems as though she has sabotaged every relationship in her life.  She’s not the easiest character to like, and I’ll admit that made this a bit of a difficult read.  That being said, Celia is certainly an interesting character from an objective point of view, especially when it becomes clear that her memories may not be what she believes they are.

One of the central themes of The False Friend is the reliability of memory.  At the beginning of the novel, Celia is absolutely certain she lied.  She has been living with this her entire life, and she finally decides that it’s time to come clean.  But the difficulty that arises when she tries to do just that is surprising.  It seems that others around her agree with her false memories – that everyone knows that Djuna was kidnapped, and no matter how much Celia insists that was a lie, even those who were with her believe that is what happened.  It makes Celia and the reader question her memories.  What is the truth?  What happened to Djuna?  And why does Celia believe she lied if the evidence suggests otherwise?

Though the plot of The False Friend might sound like a gripping, suspenseful tale, it’s not quite that.  That’s not to say it’s not worth reading, because it definitely is.  But it is on the slower side; Goldberg takes her time uncovering the plot and developing the themes.  It unfolds beautifully, and on each page the patient reader is rewarded, but action packed it is not.  If that’s what you’re looking for, I’d choose a different novel.

I was pleasantly surprised by The False Friend and am looking forward to reading more of Goldberg’s backlist.  Her prose is beautiful and holds the novel up.  Though it can meander at times, and Celia can definitely be difficult, it’s a book worth reading.  If your book club is in the mood for something on the quieter side, this is a great pick due to the fact that it is relatively short.

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Comments

  1. I have to be in the right mood for a slower moving plot, but I do think I’d like this because I find memory fascinating.

  2. I have to be in the right mood for a slower moving plot, but I do think I’d like this because I find memory fascinating.

  3. I was all set to jump up and pick this one up, until you mentioned that it is a rather slow read. Now I am torn, and can’t decide if I want to read it. I think I may go ahead and mention it as a possibility to my book club though, as there might be a lot to discuss here. Thanks for your honest and forthright review. It was much appreciated.

  4. I was all set to jump up and pick this one up, until you mentioned that it is a rather slow read. Now I am torn, and can’t decide if I want to read it. I think I may go ahead and mention it as a possibility to my book club though, as there might be a lot to discuss here. Thanks for your honest and forthright review. It was much appreciated.

  5. Not sure if I’m necessarily in the mood for a slower moving plot right now but I’m thinking that this book still sounds worth reading so I will add it to my list.

  6. Not sure if I’m necessarily in the mood for a slower moving plot right now but I’m thinking that this book still sounds worth reading so I will add it to my list.

  7. I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf for quite awhile. While I’m intrigued by the story, I’m not sure that I can stand a slower moving plot right now. I need something that will push me forward.

    I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually. Probably when I have the opportunity to so some more mood reading.

  8. I’ve had this one sitting on my shelf for quite awhile. While I’m intrigued by the story, I’m not sure that I can stand a slower moving plot right now. I need something that will push me forward.

    I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually. Probably when I have the opportunity to so some more mood reading.

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