May We Be Forgiven: A Novel
by A. M. Homes
Hardcover- N/A

Winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction?A darkly comic novel of twenty-first-century domestic life and the possibility of personal ...

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  "Great Book Club Pic" by jenladuca (see profile) 06/25/13

My book club chose this for the month of June. I was hesitant when I first started as the writing style was very different than what I am used too but before long I was hooked!! The most hilarious, ridiculous, far fetched things happen to this family and I couldn't get enough!! This book has so many story lines and plot twists that revolve around social class, racism, religion, crime, family, abuse, sex, etc. that it will spark many good discussions in your book club!!

  "May we be forgiven" by gailgk (see profile) 03/08/14

A lot happens in this book in a span of a year. Most of the characters do horrible, stupid, unbelievable things.

  "It takes the bumpy road of life in new directions!" by thewanderingjew (see profile) 03/19/14

The book seems to be written as one very long conversation with Harry Silver, or perhaps, as if the reader is a voyeur, looking over Harry’s shoulder as he writes in his diary. Ordinary, everyday events are memorialized down to the tiniest detail, and sometimes it is funny enough to make you laugh out loud. Sometimes you might just chuckle softly, kind of under your breath as a subtle remark about something very commonplace, suddenly hits home.
Harry Silver seems to be a “wrong way Corrigan” kind of a guy. His decisions are often foolhardy and his efforts often fail. The quieter of two siblings, his bully of a brother often took advantage, forcing Harry into the background, perhaps to survive. He chose a quiet professorial life while his younger sibling became successful as an executive in the field of entertainment. Life went on quietly, largely without ripples, until the day his sister-in-law, Jane, unexpectedly and without provocation, seemed to come on to him. This incident, dismissed by Harry’s wife when he confessed, since she assumed no one would make a pass at him, precipitated traumatic events which would change the future for all of them. Out of the depths of despair a phoenix would rise, as Harry steps into the fray to handle the monumental tasks facing him. He assumed the care of his brother’s children, he tended to the needs of an orphaned child, he assisted an elderly couple, even as the pattern of his own life unraveled around him. He found time for everyone, and he even came out of his shell engaging in a social life of sorts.
Harry was a childless man in a fairly emotionless marriage with few close relationships. Perceived as a nebbish, the under-achieving brother of his successful, but loud-mouthed sibling, George, who for all intents and purposes led an idyllic life, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, Harry was forced to take a backseat. George lived in the lap of luxury. He was the father of two children, a boy and a girl, 12 and 11, had a wonderful wife, and even a dog and a cat. Everything was not as it seemed on the surface, however, and all of George’s idyllic life would come to an end when he suffered some type of a breakdown which drove him to do strange things and behave even more forcefully and aggressively than he had in his past. The very personality which brought him success and influential relationships would be his downfall.
Harry steps in to save the day and repent for his part in the disassembling of the family. For awhile, it even seemed as if Harry was morphing into George, wearing his clothes, caring for his children, living in his house, tending to his garden. He busied himself with everyday chores and the writing of his book on Nixon, of whom he was a conflicted devotee. In most ways, George and his brother were opposites, but by the end of the novel, we will see Harry grow, taking the more assertive nature of George and marrying it to his own kinder, gentler self. Without his brother’s intimidating presence in his life, he rose to the task and found simple solutions to problems, where none seemed obvious before. He accepted what came his way and made the best of all situations by setting up easy to follow guidelines without being judgmental or threatening.
From the minutest detail to the most interesting tidbits, Harry regales the reader with facts about his daily life, some of which sometimes seem a bit too tedious. He relates every moment of his life, conversations, and relationships. The narrative runs on and on, as do his thoughts. Enhancing this feeling of continuity, in the tension of everyday life, is the obvious lack of chapters to divide the narrative. There is no comfortable place to really pause and take a breath. I think for a certain reader, this could be problematic. However, if one sticks to it, this book will have you laughing out loud, and wherever you find yourself reading it, you might occasionally, if in public, glance self-consciously around to see if anyone has noticed your sudden outburst of mirth. From the chuckle to the guffaw, with its ups and downs, this book is an inspirational ride.
At first Harry reminded me a little of L’il Abner’s character, Joe Btfsplk, the character who always had storm clouds hovering over his head, who could not win for losing, as the saying goes. However, the reader will enjoy growing with the main character as he changes from Willy Loman and Job, to somewhat of a Superman, making lemonade from a plate of lemons. The time frame of the book will be very nostalgic for people of a certain age who remember Richard Nixon, Joseph McCarthy, Daniel Elsberg, Arthur Miller’s “The Death of a Salesman”, among the other memorable historic moments and personalities mentioned throughout the book. It harkens back to memories of a not so distant past, perhaps to the silent majority of which Harry could surely count himself as a young man. He was not a troublemaker, but rather an investigator, a researcher, a thinker. He is far brighter than he was given credit for and he surprises himself, often enough. His life was a comedy of errors and foolish choices, with an over-simplistic view of his prospects, until he blossomed.
It is easy to read, often humorous, even while witnessing the Harry’s emotionless reactions, as he travels through the days of his life. He barely reacts or seems to feel. He is not in touch with passion or joy, but rather coasts through life, complacently. This will all change and it will be a pleasure for the reader to take the ride down life’s lanes with him. It is well written, grabs you and draws you right in, making you want to return, even when it becomes tedious with specific description. As I neared the end, I had some misgivings. Would the conclusion be as flat as the narrative, lacking true feeling, with a hint of the message, “to be continued”? As a reader, each of us will have to decide if the book ended satisfactorily. For me there were some unanswered questions, but, still I very much enjoyed the book.

  "" by cookie57 (see profile) 07/06/17

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