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Faith - Lesley Pearse

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Author: Lesley Pearse / Genre: Fiction

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    4 Reviews
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      06.03.2011 00:37
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      Enjoyed this.

      Laura is in prison for murder, having been convicted of murdering her best friend, Jackie, two years previously. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from ex-lover, Stuart, who was just found out about the situation. He is convinced of her innocence but is his faith and determination enough to get Laura acquitted?

      The book is much longer and thicker than most that I've come across and much of this is to do with the frequent interspersing of the past and present. It's fair to say that Laura has had a difficult life by the time we meet her and as Stuart takes up her cause, this is revealed in fits and starts. The narrative covers a wide time span from her childhood through to being convicted but it doesn't happen in chronological order. Instead, it's mixed in almost as random memories as and when they're remembered by Laura. This can be confusing and there were times when I was a few sentences into a paragraph before I'd realise that the narrative had flipped to a 'flashback' scene. It does allow the reader to gain an accurate picture of Laura's character though and how she became the person she is when we first meet her.

      Laura is the main character unsurprisingly but the narrative is in the third person and also flips to Stuart in his quest to uncover the truth about Jackie's murder. While I had a good deal of sympathy for Laura thanks to her past, I didn't really warm to her as a character and couldn't always see justification for her actions. At times, I'd go as far as to say that she was very unlikeable aspects to her character. With that in mind, it's testament to the author that she was able to retain my interest and intrigue through to the end as I could easily have decided I didn't give a toss what happened to Laura. Stuart was a much more likeable character and it was touching to see his devotion to Laura, even after being badly treated by her in the past.

      Of the less prominent characters, I really couldn't stand Belle, Jackie's sister, and she was by far the most unlikeable character in the book. Despite being dead, there is ample opportunity to gauge Jackie's character through the flashback scenes with Laura, Stuart and to a lesser extent, Belle. It's true to say that all three of those are slightly biased one way or the other but she seemed a likeable character.

      I was intrigued to find out how Jackie died and whether this would ever come to light but the plot doesn't really feature a whodunnit. There are some quite strong hints from Stuart regarding his suspicions quite some time before the end and while there is a slight twist there, it's not particularly shocking. The revelation comes a few chapters from the end and the focus switches back to legal proceedings so the plot centres more on the fight for justice than being a murder mystery.

      All in all, I enjoyed this book despite not really taking to the character of Laura. This is the first book by Lesley Pearse that I've read and it's made me want to seek out more of her work, especially as I've seen reviews of this book suggesting that this is actually one of her weaker offerings.

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        12.09.2008 20:06
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        brill read

        Lesley Pearce is ana amzing author, I had read everyone of her books and due to get her new one!! Can't wait.

        This book in particular really tugs at the heart strings It is 1995, Scotland. The prison of Cornton Vale. Laura Brannigan is in jail for a murder she claims she didn't commit. For two years she's been battling for justice - insisting the police made a terrible mistake; pleading that she didn't kill her best friend, Jackie. With her spirits at their lowest ebb, she's resigned to her miserable fate - until, out of the blue, a letter is delivered to the prison. At the sight of the letter's handwriting, Laura's heart lurches - taking her back to a different, happier time and memory of an old love... 1972 was the year Laura met Stuart and experienced her first summer of love.It was a heady time as she'd only recently been able to stop running. For Laura had always been a survivor: leaving an abusive home at fifteen and then life on her own - until she met Jackie. She and Jackie became best friends, swore they'd be sisters for ever. So what went wrong in the intervening years? And why is Stuart writing to Laura now? Does he have faith in her innocence? And can he help free Laura from prison - and her past?

        Thsi is such a fab book i'd recommedn it to anyone! Lesley pearce really shows a concept fof how life proably was for many people in the 50's as showni n her other books

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        25.03.2008 10:40
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        A novel by Lesley Pearce.

        I was round at my friend's house a couple of weeks ago and noticed her bookshelf was practically about to break due to being overloaded with books. As such I took it upon myself to select a couple of books to borrow to entertain me during the evening, one of which was "Faith" by Lesley Pearce.

        The Author

        Lesley Pearce released her first novel back in 1993 and since then has consistently had a further fifteen novels published with "Faith" being her latest offering in January 2008. She's a British born writer who currently lives in the Bristol region and her books tend to focus on one lead female character who is facing various adversities in her life. I've read a couple of her novels in the past and although none of them have really stood out, they've all been quite easygoing and pleasant reads.

        The Plot

        "Faith" is based around the life of Laura Brannigan who, at the start if the novel, is in prison for the murder of her best friend Jackie Daniels. She has been in prison for two years when we first meet her and despite battling hard for justice she has never quite found anyone to stand by her and help her fight.

        Following this we meet Scottish Stuart who was a lover of Laura's many years earlier in the 1970s when she fled from her abusive husband in London. He offers his help in proving her innocence and what follows is their tireless battle to prove her innocence and free her from prison.

        During the course of the novel Pearce fluctuates between the past and the present frequently, going as far back as the early 1960s when Laura was a young child and follows her throughout her life and through all the adversities she has faced while growing up.

        The Characters

        Laura Brannigan is the focus of the novel, we learn about her deprived life as a child when she was left to care for her younger siblings while her father was in prison. She suffers abuse at the hands of her mother's new suitor and flees her family home at an early age. We learn about her unloving marriage, her jaunts into the pornographic world, her frequent encounters with drugs and the death of her small son. Despite facing such adversities she seems to feel little sympathy for herself and indeed is a caring and compassionate character.

        We also meet several other characters, namely Stuart who is portrayed as a handsome and moralistic gentleman whose belief in Laura's innocence never falters. Jackie is displayed frequently in the novel, she takes Laura into her family when she has no one else and throughout her life she is a source of companionship, finance and support to Laura. There are also numerous other characters including Laura's younger sisters, her husband and Robbie Fielding who leads her astray when she is fleeing her marriage.

        My Opinion

        The first thing that struck me with regards to this novel was the sheer size of it, at 640 pages long it isn't a short read by any means. The novel doesn't follow a continuous timeline; it begins in the present and then reverts to the past, then back to the present, etc. I did actually find this slightly hard to follow as when it refers to the past it doesn't follow events in a logical order by any means. I feel if the novel had been in a logical time order it may have grown a little tiresome after a while but with constant, interspersed references to the present you do feel that the novel is progressing somewhat.

        With regards to the length I do feel that the novel was a little too long. All events were very well detailed but there seemed to be so much that wasn't of importance to the plot that it could have been made shorter. At times I was tempted to flick forward a few chapters as I don't feel I would have missed anything of vital importance or anything that detracted from my enjoyment of the novel. On a couple of occasions I did almost give up with this book and move onto another one as I just felt it was dragging.

        The characters are developed quite well and although I did feel I got to know them I didn't feel any connection to them and nor was I really able to empathise with any of them. In such a long novel I expected the characters to become very developed and real however I found this wasn't the case and they did remain quite hollow to me in a sense. I really didn't like Laura, despite her having a hard life she wasn't portrayed as the golden girl at all times which I thought would make her quite likeable and realistic. However I was frequently irritated by her and appalled as well by some of her actions and choices in her earlier life. As a character she just seemed a little flat and lifeless, as did the majority of the characters in the novel.

        The title of "Faith" refers to that fact that despite being sent to prison for murder, by having a little faith and never quite giving up Laura was acquitted. The message behind the title is on the surface a positive one but it is one that has been offered countless times before and has run a bit thin on the ground by this point. I find it hard to believe that someone who was put in prison for murder and who had been there for several years with no one seeming to believe they were innocent, would be able to maintain their faith but I suppose in such situations faith may be all they have left to fall back upon.

        The plot of the novel was fairly good and although it's probably been done numerous times before and although I was tempted to give up I did find myself wanting to following it through to the ending which is always a good sign. However I really wasn't addicted to this book and found it quite easy to put down - I'm sure if I'd have had something better to hand I would have given up with this one.

        In conclusion I didn't bond with any of the characters particularly and found it hard to empathise with any of them. The story didn't really hold my attention and it wasn't anything new in the world of fiction by any means. I certainly wouldn't be in a rush to read another of her novels based on this one and would only recommend it if you can't find anything better to read.

        Thanks for reading.

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          04.03.2008 23:04
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          Another great book from Lesley Pearse

          Faith is the latest book I have read by one of my favourite authors Lesley Pearse. Lesley Pearse started writing novels fairly late in life, her first book was published at the age of 49. She is a wonderful storyteller and this is her 16th novel. The authors books are usually based on a strong female character and a lot of her earlier books were titled with the said ladies name (eg Rosie, Charity, Charlie). Her usual tales are of a badly done to young girl who grows up to either take revenge on those who have wronged her or to become a major success despite all the odds. There are varieties on the theme and settings to the stories and no matter how many of her books I read I still enjoy them, even if they are all of a similar vein.

          ~So whats this story about?~

          The central character to this book is Laura Brannigan and we start the book in a womens prison in Glasgow in 1995. Laura is in her forties and is serving a life sentence for the murder of her best friend. The friend in question is Jackie Thompson. She and Laura met at a swimming pool when Laura was sixteen years old, a great friendship began and Laura became a part of Jackies family. A few pages in and she gets a visit from an old flame
          called Stuart. Stuart has just returned from abroad to find out that Laura is in prison. As Laura maintains that she did not kill Jackie and Stuart believes she is telling the truth he sets about trying to find out the facts behind the case. To do this he employs the help of his friend David Stoyle who is a lawyer.

          The book is basically a mystery. In order to uncover the events that led up to Lauras imprisonment we find out about her whole life before. The book is written in the 3rd person and the details of Lauras past are uncovered as she starts to write down things that have happened in her past to tell Stuart. Stuart plays a major role in the story and he travels around visiting various people and discovering facts that backs up his belief in Lauras innocence. The whole book flits back and forth in time as we uncover Lauras friends and enemies and possible suspects for the crime that Laura is in prison for. Laura has made many mistakes in her past that she now regrets and at times it is difficult to like her. I found this quite a departure for the author as her characters are more often than not portrayed as innocent victims of other peoples evil. Don't get me wrong though Laura did suffer at the hands of other people and at times I empathised with her. The chapters detailing her childhood are very typical of the authors usual writing as Laura suffers at the hands of her selfish mother and uninterested father. At other
          times though I could not understand or justify her actions. At times we see Laura portrayed as dishonest and becoming involved in a seedy and selfish lifestyle herself. I think that the author chose to make her a bit of a good/bad character to keep up the mystery of whether she is capable of murdering her friend.

          So is Laura innocent?
          Will Stuart discover the truth?
          Is there a happy ending?

          You will have to read the book yourself to find the answer to the above and more.

          ~So what did I think?~

          I really enjoyed this book as I expected to. I have enjoyed every other book by the same author and love her writing style. As I have already mentioned I liked the fact that she made Laura a difficullt character to judge. The mystery unravelled slowly throughout the book but was intriguing enough to keep you turning the pages to find out more. The book does contain some quite descriptive scenes of a sexual nature as well as some obscene language and references to drug use. This is something to bear in mind if you are easily offended. Although the drug references are made fairly regularly the sex & language was only on a handful of pages within the book and was necessary to see an insight into the kind of life that Laura chose to lead. Although Laura is the main character, there are many other characters that are important to the story. The author makes it easy to build a picture of each and every one of them. Although the book flits about between the past and present this is at no point confusing or difficult to relate to as I do find with some stories that do this.

          ~Recommend?~

          Definately. If you have ever read a Lesley Pearse novel before and enjoyed it then you will know what to expect from the author. If you haven't read one of her books before then this would be as good a place as any to start.

          ~Other stuff~

          Details of all her previous works as well as an email subscription to her newsletter 'among friends' can be found on the penguin website www.penguin.co.uk.

          The book has 610 pages to the story and then there is a further section at the back which is about the author. It details her life, her research for the book and what made her write the story. From reading a small section of her life story it would seem that Lesley had a fairly traumatic childhood herself and would explain why the majority of her stories include emotional child experiences.

          ISBN : 978-0-141-03048-7

          Published by Penguin books in paperback at £6.99.

          Available on Amazon from £3.99.

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        • Product Details

          1995, Scotland - The prison of Cornton Vale. Laura Brannigan is in jail for murder. For two years she's been battling for justic - insisting that she didn't kill her best friend, Jackie. Yet with her spirits at their lowest ebb, she receives a letter that takes her back to a different time and memory of an old love ...Twenty years ago was a heady time for Laura: she'd escaped an abusive home and together with new best friend Jackie she'd made a fresh start. The pair had sworn to be sisters for ever. And Stuart had come into their lives - giving Laura a brilliant summer of love. So what went wrong in the intervening years? And why is Stuart writing to Laura now? Does he have faith in her innocence? And can he help free Laura from prison - and her past?