Skip to main content

Faye, Faraway


Faye, Faraway

From debut novelist Helen Fisher comes FAYE, FARAWAY, a magical combination of tenderness and grief starring an unforgettable protagonist.

Faye is a 37-year-old woman with a handsome, intelligent husband and two young daughters who fulfill nearly all of her dreams for a well-lived life. But deep in her heart, she knows there’s an emptiness: the hole left by her mother’s sudden death when she was only seven. Although Faye was fortunate enough to be adopted by a kind elderly couple and treated as their own daughter, she has never quite gotten over the pain of losing Jeanie.

Now as an adult, Faye dedicates herself to making sure that her daughters never know a similar emptiness or loneliness. Though she reminds them nightly that they are special and loved, she knows that a child’s belief in her mother’s love is built on faith, and faith is something that Faye has always struggled with. Her belief in something greater than herself has never mattered more than now, as her husband has announced that he wants to become a vicar. Though he claims that he has felt called to the profession for a few years and can no longer ignore God’s wishes, he realizes that he is asking a lot of Faye, as the position of “vicar’s wife” is public and all-consuming.

"Fisher writes gorgeous, lyrical prose, and every scene is infused with magic and heart. With a skillful hand, she focuses on tiny, life-changing moments with a keen and compassionate eye, drawing natural but thought-provoking questions in a way that feels universal and timeless."

One night, as Faye is considering her husband’s news and reminiscing on her past, she discovers an old, taped-together box that once held a Space Hopper from her mother and has followed her on every move, through every flat and finally into the home she shares with her family. She recognizes it from an old photo of herself at six, but she cannot stop obsessing over the edges of the picture, the parts of her happy childhood that no photo could have captured, and, most importantly, the woman behind the camera: her mother. Suddenly, like Alice falling through the rabbit hole, Faye finds herself on the floor of her childhood living room, gazing up at the Christmas lights, knowing full well that her mother --- and her six-year-old self --- are sleeping soundly upstairs, with no idea of the future that awaits them.

Carefully, desperately, Faye manufactures a run-in with her mother, inadvertently saving her childhood self from a car accident in the process. Jeanie forms an instant attachment to Faye, welcoming the girl into her home and claiming her as a “sister from another mister-meets-guardian angel." Faye is captivated by her and studies her every move, both as a woman and as a mother, but she has her own children to return to and feels the pull in her heart as strongly as the grief that has lived with her for 30 years.

When Faye returns home after approximately 12 hours in her mother’s house, she finds that three hours have passed in her adult life --- and nothing will ever be the same for her again. As Faye continues to plan and embark on furtive, longing-filled trips to visit her mother, she and Jeanie strike up an unbreakable bond, even as she is forced to wonder how much her meddling in the past will affect her future --- and vice versa. Meanwhile, in the present, Faye struggles to hide her secret trips from her husband and children, which puts a wedge in her marriage, already tense in the aftermath of the announcement of his decision to become a vicar. With her faith in everything she holds dear on the line, she inches closer and closer to an impossible choice: put her future, her husband and her children at risk, or give up the mother she dreamed of knowing for decades.

FAYE, FARAWAY is an instantly engaging novel, with Faye addressing the reader directly, pleading for someone to believe and understand her out-of-this-world story. She is equal parts humble, vulnerable and witty, giving the book an almost conversational feel that is immediately inviting and warm. Fisher writes gorgeous, lyrical prose, and every scene is infused with magic and heart. With a skillful hand, she focuses on tiny, life-changing moments with a keen and compassionate eye, drawing natural but thought-provoking questions in a way that feels universal and timeless. You’ll have to suspend your disbelief a little, of course, but Faye’s delivery of her straight-out-of-science fiction tale is so straightforward and honest that even the more fantastical elements feel perfectly real and authentic. (I love that Fisher makes no effort to explain the science of time travel in Faye’s world. Her acceptance of the phenomenon forces the reader to follow along and, ironically, provides all the explanation you need without ever giving it.)

What sets FAYE, FARAWAY apart from novels like OUTLANDER and THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE is the love story, not between a man and woman, but the infinitesimal and groundbreaking love that occurs between mother and child. Fisher’s exploration of motherhood --- and the women who become our mothers --- is moving and engaging, nearly spiritual in its depth. She is careful to write every mother in her novel not as a superwoman or goddess but as a flawed, real woman who has illicit interests and makes bad mistakes but is irreplaceable in her child’s life and all-powerful in her love for that child.

Full of emotionally drawn scenes and careful ponderings about faith, spirituality and love, FAYE, FARAWAY is riveting, surprising and deeply touching.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on February 5, 2021

Faye, Faraway
by Helen Fisher