Little Faith

Little Faith by Nickolas Butler

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By Nickolas Butler

avg rating

7 reviews

The moving new novel from the celebrated author of Shotgun Lovesongs

Lyle Hovde is at the onset of his golden years, living a mostly content life in rural Wisconsin with his wife, Peg, daughter, Shiloh, and five-year-old grandson, Isaac.


18 Jul 2019

The author tells the story of Lyle, his wife Peg, their adopted daughter Shiloh and grandson Issac. This is a powerful, thought-provoking read which I thoroughly enjoyed.

20 Jun 2019


Lyle Hovde lives in Wisconsin with Peg, his wife, Shiloh, his adopted daughter and Isaac, his six year old grandson. Lyle also has a handful of very close friends who he has grown up with in the community in which he has lived his whole life. Lyle and Peg’s relationship with Shiloh has been difficult at times, but she has recently returned home and the family are delighted. The only potential problem is an attachment which she has formed with the pastor of an extremist church in a nearby town. The pastor has convinced her that Isaac has special healing powers and the control that he has over Shiloh makes her parents uneasy. Over a period of time, the relationship between Shiloh and Lyle deteriorates and Lyle struggles to deal with the prospect of losing his daughter again. A number of incidents in both his family and his circle of friends also make him reconsider his faith, or lack of it.

This is a contemplative and endearing book which was a delight to read. Lyle is a wonderful character – gentle, kind and completely out of his depth in the circumstances in which he finds himself. I felt privileged to have met him. The book does not really have a conventional “beginning, middle and end”. The reader is just allowed to be a voyeur during a difficult time in Lyle’s life.

I loved this book from beginning to end and cannot think of a single thing that I didn’t like about it.

I had never come across Nickolas Butler before, but if this is the quality of fiction which he generally writes then I will be following him closely from now on. This book in particular is likely to appeal to readers who appreciate a well written and thoughtful book. I would particularly recommend it to anybody who fell in love with Mr Doubler.

20 Jun 2019

Ciarán K

This is the kind of book I particularly enjoy. Set in the Midwest, the pace and writing style of the book matched up well with the Lyle Hovde, the main character, and maybe even more importantly, the setting.

It is a book that doesn't settle for easy answers. It paints a deeply negative picture of exploitative religious people but refuses to then dismiss all people of faith. It craves for a happy ending but doesn't surrender to the easy.

The writing was light and I found myself essentially falling into the next page and the one after that. The descriptive language created an immersive experience (though at places it was a little forced).

Definitely one that I'd recommend.

19 Jun 2019

St Regulus SM

A quietly devastating story. It did not have a neatly wrapped up ending, which I am sure will frustrate some readers, but for me it added to the realism of the story. I am still thinking about the book weeks after reading it.

12 Jun 2019

St Regulus AJ

A gentle read, beautifully written with well drawn characters. I did not want it to end and, when it did, I wish it hadn’t. Other reviews will paint a fuller picture. I just want to enjoy the memory of a fine book.

11 Jun 2019


Lyle Hovde and his wife Peg are unable to have a biological child but adopt a newborn girl, Shiloh and love her deeply. As a teen and young adult Shiloh rebels and leaves home. For years she is estranged from her parents but then returns home with her son, Isaac. Lyle's and Peg's love for her is unconditional and they are thrilled to welcome her home and ecstatic to have the young Isaac there to help rear. They accept their daughter and her choices in life. Shiloh gets involved with a fringe evangelical preacher. The effect this relationship has on the family and their friends is dramatic.

This is a gentle book but strongly and tightly written. It is about love and trust in all forms -- in one's relationship with spouse, child, grandchild, friends, surroundings and one's own life. It is a cautionary tale of trust based on a true life event that occurred in a small town in the American mid-west that continues to plague my thoughts weeks after I read this book.

08 Jun 2019


Little Faith is a gentle and tender read, but it also has a number of different layers to its story - unconditional love, growing old, the simple things in life, relationships, routine, and ultimately the power and limitations of faith.

The story revolves around Lyle and his grandson, Isaac. Their lives get railroaded by a preacher who makes a number of claims, driving a wedge between Lyle and his daughter, and ultimately Isaac. There are several other key characters who contribute to the flow of the story.

The writing is gentle and tells stories that are not earth-shattering in anyway, and this gentleness draws the reader into a false sense of security. The calmness and simplicity of the writing hides a much darker truth. It takes some time to realise what is going on and by then the story takes a dramatic and shocking turn.

The story highlights the idea of good and bad faith, questions how much Lyle needs to have faith and it also looks at what faith can be. This is not an overtly religious book, however it does allude to faith in God.

There were parts of the book I found jarred. In particular Lyle asking his friend to live long enough to attend his daughter wedding date. Given the story up until that point, I found that unrealistic. I also found Lyle's anger control - until near the end - a Herculean effort. He seemed to be too submissive as events accumulated.

I enjoyed this gentle and thoughtful read.

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