Download Faithful Place Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Chapter 1 Summary

According to Frank Mackey, the narrator and protagonist of Tana French's novel Faithful Place, "only a few moments matter" in one's whole life. For Frank, that moment occurs when he is a nineteen-year-old kid looking for a way out of his depressing, turbulent home in an Irish working-class neighborhood. He and his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, determine that their escape is to meet in the middle of the night at an abandoned house in their neighborhood and to take a ferry to England. But as Frank waits outside the building late one night for over two hours, he begins to get nervous and wanders inside only to find a note from Rosie. Frank interprets the note as Rosie changing her mind, so he leaves the house angrily.

Years later, Frank has made something of himself by working for Dublin's undercover squad and almost completely separating himself from his family. One Friday in December, Frank begins a normal weekend by dropping by his ex-wife Olivia's house to pick up their daughter Holly for a weekend visit. The former couple is the opposite of one another. Frank is rough around the edges and outspoken; Olivia is demur, proper, and now completely intolerant of Frank's attempts to rile her. As Frank waits for Holly to gather her stuffed animals and other belongings, he teases Olivia about her date with a stuffy friend named Dermot.

After he has packed Holly into her car seat and headed toward his apartment near the quay, Frank promises the girl that he will take her to fly her kite, but when he arrives home, his voice mail is flashing with numerous messages, and Frank knows that the messages must be from family as no one else calls him at home. He tries to preoccupy Holly by handing her his laptop and asking her to go play for a while in her room. As Frank checks his messages, he discovers that they are all from his youngest sister Jackie—really the only family member he still speaks to—and she sounds frantic. Frank calls Jackie back, and she tells him that a developer, who had purchased some of the apartments in the old neighborhood, had found a suitcase behind a fireplace. When Jackie informs Frank that the suitcase must have belonged to Rosie Daly because it contains her birth certificate and other personal items, Frank denies that that could be right. Since his family has not called the police yet, Frank decides to hurry over to take a look at the suitcase before someone else handles it. Olivia is extremely displeased when Frank calls her to see if he can drop off Holly, but she finally relents.

As Frank drives back to Olivia's, he promises himself that he will make up for having to leave Holly, but then his mind wanders back to that night when he was nineteen and in love. Verbatim, he silently replays the words from Rosie's note. She had written that she didn't want to mess up anyone's life and that she desired for the note's recipient to wish her success in England. Frank has always believed that that note was meant for him, but now he has many unanswered questions—the primary one being what happened to Rosie between when she arrived at the abandoned building years earlier and when he showed up.

Chapter 2 Summary

Chapter 2 begins with a description of Frank's childhood neighborhood, Faithful Place. The small community consists of several row houses filled with working-class families. Frank has not returned to the old neighborhood for quite a while and maintains contact only with his younger sister Jackie.

As he nears Faithful Place, he parks a couple of blocks away and walks to his parents' house. When he enters the cramped flat, his mother greets him by criticizing his appearance, and Frank acknowledges his father and siblings who have all gathered at the family home.

Frank doesn't make small talk but instead asks first where Rosie's suitcase is. His older brother Shay directs him to it, and Frank notices all the hand prints on it. His mother admits that she tried to open the case and tells Frank that Shay used a screwdriver to pry...

(The entire section is 4,622 words.)