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Faithful Place by Tana French

Faithful place book cover Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin’s inner city, and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and Rosie Daly were all ready to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.

But on the winter night when they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn’t show. Frank took it for granted that she’d dumped him-probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again.

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Neither did Rosie. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie’s suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank is going home whether he likes it or not.

Getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out again. Frank finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind. The cops working the case want him out of the way, in case loyalty to his family and community makes him a liability. Faithful Place wants him out because he’s a detective now, and the Place has never liked cops. Frank just wants to find out what happened to Rosie Daly-and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, to himself or anyone else, to get the job done.

Penguin Viking Adult (July 13th 2010)

Book Club Ideas

Frank Mackey’s life drastically changed the night his girl did not show up and run away with him to London. Decorations could include a police badge to represent Frank Mackey’s current life and Guinness posters for what his life could have become if he had stayed in Faithful Place without Rosie. Some of the residents of Faithful Place worked at Guinness (the lucky ones), which back in the day made Faithful Place smell like malt and burnt hops.

Guinness is good for you

Other decorating ideas could include a musty old pale-blue suitcase filled with Rosie’s belonging including a A U2 t-shirt, purple and green pullovers, a pale-blue plastic rosary, ferry tickets and cassette tapes of U2, REM and Thin Lizzy.

Irish pub songs can be played to recreate the pub scenes in the book. Click on the pictures to listen to samples of the music or to purchase from Amazon.

Beer drinking songs from Ireland

The Dubliners

In her acknowledgments, Tana French thanked Pete St. John for his beautiful love songs to Dublin. Listen to his song “Rare Ould Times”on St. John’s website. I got a chill down my spine when he sang the word “Rosey” in the song.

Book Club Menu

Many food scenes in Faithful Place take place in pubs over pints of Guinness and a plate of sandwiches. For some ideas for pub food recipes, visit our sandwich and appetizer recipe pages.

A good skill to master to impress your book club members is pouring the perfect pint of Guinness.

Other food references include the breakfast Frank Mackey had when he returned to Faithful Place which consisted of eggs, rashers, sausages, black pudding, fried bread and fried tomatoes. This food didn’t sound appetizing as a menu for a book club party and black pudding is made with pig’s blood so I decided to pass on these recipes.

I decided to go with a meat and potatoes recipe that is flavored with Guinness beer. Irish Shepherd Pie will easily feed a crowd.


Although Sundays back in the 80s were miserable for Frank, these days Ma would make a lovely dinner with apple tart and ice cream afterwards. Annie shared this Irish Apple Cake with me and I thought it would be perfect for a book club party for Faithful Place.

Irish Apple Cake

Book Club Resources

Ratings at the time this post was published

Goodreads: 3.96 stars (48,809 ratings)
Amazon: 4.2 stars (779 rev1iews)
LibraryThing: 3.93 stars (1,022 ratings)
My Rating: 4.5 stars. I love Tana French’s writing. She captures Frank Mackey’s sarcasm perfectly. The scene where they nab the bad guy was so intense…I couldn’t wait for it to end so my adrenaline levels would return to normal.

Book Club Discussion

Spoiler Alert: Discussion guide may contain spoilers to the book.

1. How does religion appear to have influenced the families who live in Faithful Place? Why do you think Frank Mackey has rejected religion?

2. Why do you think that teenagers like Frank and Rosie-the ones who try to get away-appear to be the exception rather than the rule in the Mackeys’ neighborhood?

3, Are Olivia and Jackie right or wrong to have taken Holly to visit Frank’s family without his knowledge or consent? Why?

4, What meanings, ironic or otherwise, can be derived from the title Faithful Place? How do those meanings resonate through the novel?

5. Frank tells us early in the novel that he would die for his kid (p. 3). Yet there are lesser things he chooses not to do, such as being civil to her mother and shielding her from having to testify in a murder trial. How well does Frank understand his feelings toward Holly? What are his blind spots where their relationship is concerned?
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6. Why does Frank become so upset over Holly’s infatuation with pseudo-celebrity Celia Bailey (pp. 151-154)? Is his reaction pure, over-the-top exaggeration, or does he have a point?

7. Tana French makes extensive use of flashbacks to develop Rosie as a character and to flesh out Frank’s motivations. How would the novel be different if it were narrated in a strictly chronological fashion?

8. Shay insists that he and Frank are morally no different, and Frank is outraged by the suggestion. Is Shay right?

9. Frank would appear to have every right to blame his family for much of the chaos in his life. To what extent, however, do you think his finger pointing is an evasion of responsibilities that he would be wiser to accept?

10. What feelings do the characters in the novel have regarding the decade of the eighties? How does growing up in the eighties seem to have affected Frank, his siblings, and his friends?

11. Does the Irish setting of Faithful Place contribute significantly to the telling of the story, or do you find that French’s novel to be about humanity on a more universal level?

12. How does Frank’s emotional involvement in the cases of Rosie’s and Kevin’s deaths affect his ability to function as a detective? Is it always a hindrance to him, or are there ways in which it improves and deepens his insights?

13. Imagine that you are trying to persuade Holly to testify against Shay. What arguments or other tactics would you use? Do you think they would succeed?

14. Does Frank Mackey change over the course of the novel? What, if anything, does he learn?

15. Near the end of Faithful Place, Frank and Olivia seem to have begun to move tentatively toward a reconciliation. What do you think is the likelihood of their succeeding, and why?

(Discussion Questions from Penguin Viking Adult)

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About the Author

Born in Vermont, Tana French has lived all over the world including Ireland, Florence, Rome, and Malawi. She settled in Dublin in 1990 and trained as an actor at Trinity College and has appeared in a wide variety of theatrical productions in Dublin. Her debut novel, In the Woods, was honored with the Edgar, Barry, Macavity, and Anthony awards. She lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter. Faithful Place is her third book.

This picture of The Temple Bar in Dublin is one of my favorite photographs.

Dublin Ireland photograph,

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