The Enemy of the Good: Reviews

The Enemy of the Good is a vivid picture of the religious life as it’s lived among all the conflicts and compromises of modern Britain.  Michael Arditti has extended and deepened the vision that made Easter so interesting, and he must be our best chronicler of the rewards and pitfalls of present day faith.’
Philip Pullman

‘Arditti’s writing has such a deliciously Victorian scope and power… The Enemy of the Good is a big, serious novel about big, serious things that are almost impossible to put into words.  It is also a total page-turner.  I nearly shouted, “Oh no – she’s married him!” in the queue at Marks & Spencer.’
Kate Saunders, Literary Review

‘He has made the modern church his tapestry and his latest novel is his best to date….  You could truthfully say all human life was here.’
A N Wilson, Reader’s Digest

The ‘discussions about religion and whether faith can help us to navigate the modern world are fascinating and intense…  Arditti’s characters feel rounded and acutely observed.  Even more minor characters are skilfully painted… A lovely vein of humour runs through the book… This absorbing and intelligent novel.’
Naomi Alderman, Financial Times

‘This is a provocative novel, poised between faith and doubt…  Such complexities play beautifully to Arditti’s unflinching honesty as a writer… Thank God (maybe literally) for writers like Michael Arditti, whose invigorating novels dare to shake us out of our complacency.’
Lucy Beresford, The Spectator

‘Michael Arditti takes the title of his new novel from Voltaire:  “The best is the enemy of the good.”  Arditti writes with the same compassion and humanity as Voltaire….  The Enemy of the Good is an engaging exploration of contemporary manners that is tragic and comic:  a mild and forgiving book about the damage that vehement religious ideas do to ordinary lives….  Arditti deals deftly with complex ideas within the confines of the novel.  His characters are credible and brought to life with gentle humour.  For all its cerebral and contemporary concerns, The Enemy of the Good carries the timeless message of tolerance.’
Ruth Scurr, Daily Telegraph

‘Big issues abound:  sex, love, asylum, HIV, euthanasia, child abuse, homophobia and disability – all subtly and tenderly interwoven.  Most satisfying is the way Anglican philosophy is intertwined with various strands of Jewish thinking, from scepticism to messianism… Arditti breaks new ground in the English novel.’
Julia Pascal, Jewish Chronicle

‘This compulsively readable and wittily written novel has plenty of plot, and is laden with drama;  the characterisation is also compelling… In addition, Arditti has also written a novel of ideas, and theological ideas as well… This surprising, enthralling and never less than very clever novel.’
Alexander Lucie-Smith, Church Times

‘Michael Arditti has long been one of our bravest novelists… The Enemy of the Good is, on one level, a novel of ideas where faith-based certainties clash with each other, and with secularism, sexuality and a sceptical society… But Arditti is not just a thinker.  He is also a wonderful observer and storyteller.  This ambitious novel cracks along at a fair old pace.  It keeps you turning the pages and hoping for a happy ending.’
Peter Stanford, The Tablet

‘At times sharply shocking, whilst always rigorously exploring the intense reactions and realities of theology, it’s a thought-provoking read.’
Bob Henderson, Gay Times

‘Religion often gets a rough ride from writers, sometimes with good reason, but it’s refreshing to find a novel that is as determinedly fair as this one….  Resisting any temptation to sermonise, (Arditti) settles nicely on the dividing line that separates the concept of faith from that of religion.’
Jonathan Eyers, Metro

‘This is a dense, bracing analysis of a society with a complex relationship to its many religions and a powerful, heartfelt novel:  Arditti may find himself winning converts from many conflicting constituencies.’
Tim Teeman, The Times

‘With consummate ease, Arditti highlights many of the dilemmas facing society today, leavening the load with subtle humour and wry observations on human nature.  His characters leap off the page, living long in the imagination.  Thoughtful but entertaining, intelligent but accessible, The Enemy of the Good is an enjoyable read while also pulling no punches in offering a challenge to conventional views.   A novel for – and of – our times.’
Emmanuel Cooper, Tribune

‘The clashing beliefs of this intellectual but dysfunctional family are at the heart of Arditti’s compelling sixth novel which tackles contemporary questions of liberalism versus fundamentalism, tolerance versus bigotry.  Arditti’s impeccable research is revelatory about the closed words of the orthodox Lubavitch sect and about prison life.  A fascinating read that raises hard issues and gives no easy answers.’
Clare Colvin, Daily Mail

‘Arditti is an entertaining and often witty writer, and his aim, to investigate religious life in modern Britain, with all its conflicts, challenges and compromises, is ambitious.  He directly addresses some of the legal and moral questions surrounding euthanasia, just as they are beginning to be seriously discussed in Britain.’
Natasha Lehrer, Times Literary Supplement

‘Arditti, like Trollope, writes fiction filled with wit and acute social observation, all placed in a religious setting….  Arditti’s portrayal of deep faith is so skilfully composed that he evokes compassion for a woman who yearns so much for meaning and stability that she rejects her liberal world for Orthodox Judaism, with all its restrictions on women.  He also deftly highlights the absurdities of rigid belief without any trace of a sneer.’
Catherine Pepinster, Independent

‘Arditti’s confidence handling plot makes for a fast-moving narrative and he uses language with delightful precision.  He brilliantly pinpoints the turmoil in the liberal mind, the dissonance caused by the need to tolerate things – a religion and a culture and a daughter’s free choice – that seem intolerably illiberal, and he shows that generous sympathy for all varieties of humanity which distinguishes great novelists.’
Andrew M Brown, Catholic Herald

‘In this outstanding novel he tackles the conflict between liberalism and fundamentalism.  A vivid tale of a family’s struggle over three years and the events that make it reflect on its dearest relationships and deepest values;  this is a satisfying voyage for any soul.’
Paul Blezard, The Lady

‘In elegant, page-turning prose, Arditti explores the impact of religion on a comfortable middle-class family….  It is to the author’s credit that the reader is guided through with such care.  Whether believer or atheist, he or she will make it through the wilderness and out the other side in the company of a writer with quite exceptional gifts.’
Paul Burston, Time Out

‘A family saga with a difference, it intertwines complex human relationships with profound and conflicting perspectives on faith and fundamentalism.  Arditti skilfully embodies these themes in the lives of his fascinating and diverse cast of characters.’                                                                                                                                                     Emma Klein, Books of the Year, The Tablet