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The Forgiven: A Novel Paperback – Deckle Edge, June 4, 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307889041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307889041
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #606,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

After one too many cold drinks and too many heated words, David and Jo Henninger head down a deserted Moroccan highway, bound for a hedonistic weekend at the estate owned by Richard and Dally, swanning sybarites known for their decadent, opulent parties. When two men leap into the roadway before them, David can’t stop in time. One dies by the side of the road; the other disappears into the jet-black night. Rattled, the Henningers take the corpse with them, hoping to enlist the help of their well-connected friends to placate the local police only to find that the estate’s hostile Moroccan staff have alerted the deceased’s family. David is forced to return to the young man’s desert home to atone for his actions, while Jo remains behind at the festivities, where she submits to the welcome attentions of another guest. In the desert, all life and emotions are stripped to their very core. In his elegant and incisive first novel, travel-journalist Osborne hauntingly captures this exposed essence in all its inscrutable mystery and dispassionate brutishness. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Selected by The Economist as one of the Best Books of the Year 2012

Selected by Library Journal as one of the Year's Best Books 2012

Year's Best Books Chosen by Writers, selected by Lionel Shriver, The Guardian 2012

“A sinister and streamlined entertainment in the tradition of Paul Bowles, Evelyn Waugh and the early Ian McEwan….This is a lean book that moves like a panther. Even better, Mr. Osborne has a keen and sometimes cruel eye for humans and their manners and morals, and for the natural world. You can open to almost any page and find brutally fine observations….surprising and dark and excellent.”
New York Times

“Extraordinarily acute to human nature….Stylishness holds the book together, and makes all the bits of plot machinery feel new again….There are enough ways to read the book that one finishes it and immediately wants to start it again.”

“A perfect storm of a novel.”
Fredericksburg Freelance Star

"A master of the high style" 
The Guardian

"Osborne writes mercilessly, savagely well. He excavates his characters, and the centuries-long cultural rift between the desert people and the Western infidels with a pathologist’s precision, wrapping fear, boredom, forgiveness, judgment, honour and sexual attraction into a novel that plunges with sinister pace towards its denouement." 
The Daily Mail

"Brooding, compelling...There’s a strong, almost old-fashioned moral force at work in Osborne’s novel... At the novel’s dramatic close, you could accuse Osborne of forcing the hand of moral come-uppance just a little too much — but it barely detracts from the tension he has maintained throughout the novel, and the pleasure of his bringing under such scrutiny the unpredictable behaviour of his morally tortuous characters."
The London Sunday Times

“With nods to Paul Bowles and Evelyn Waugh, Osborne portrays the vacuity of high society as gorgeously and incisively as he does the unease of cultures thrust together in the unforgiving desert.”
Publishers Weekly (starred)

“Osborne comes up with an ending that’s at the same time ironic, surprising and completely fitting.  A gripping read with moral ambiguity galore.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“[A] brilliant, unsentimental rendering of contemporary East-West conflict and the imperfect human psyche….Osborne has done an extraordinary job of capturing moral complexity, never letting his characters or his readers off easy. The result should be grim reading, but instead it’s vivifying.  Highly recommended.”
Library Journal (starred)

“In the desert, all life and emotions are stripped to their very core.  In his elegant and incisive second novel, travel-journalist Osborne hauntingly captures this exposed essence in all its inscrutable mystery and dispassionate brutishness.”
Booklist Online

“No mere imitation but a contribution to the shelf on which The Sheltering Sky and The Bonfire of the Vanities also sit, The Forgiven explores the clash of two cultures, each of which feels superior to the other.  Osborne's writing is uncomfortably well observed; his story is sickeningly, addictively headlong.”
Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin

"The Forgiven shines darkly with a rich and mordant fatalism.  Osborne's characters emerge like people in a dream – diamond-sharp but fascinatingly askew.  His prose is gorgeous and precise; the story slices keenly through the exotic haze of its setting.  It's an absolutely brilliant novel – the ending is a shock in the best way."
Kate Christensen, author of The Epicure's Lament and The Astral
“The prose of The Forgiven has a very particular, knowing luminosity, much like the tarnished world it describes.  A beautiful, compelling book to savor line by line.”
Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted

More About the Author

Lawrence Osborne was born in England and lives in New York City. A widely published and widely traveled journalist, he is the author most recently of "The Accidental Connoisseur," "The Naked Tourist" and "Bangkok Days," all published by Farrar Straus and Giroux. He has lived a nomadic life in Mexico, Italy, France, Morocco, Cambodia and Thailand, places that he draws on in his fiction and non-fiction. His short stories have appeared in magazines such as Tin House, Bidoun and Fiction, while his upcoming novel "The Forgiven" will be published by Crown in 2012.

Customer Reviews

Well written and thought provoking.
gloria kawam
It was difficult to like the characters - even though they found themselves in trying circumstances.
Biddy Mulligan
The book was certainly one of the most moving that I've recently read.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By sb-lynn TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Brief summary and review, no spoilers.

This is a very interesting story that has a great premise - an unhappily married British couple go to Morocco for a lavish party at a vacation home of a friend of the husband's. There is a car accident and a young local Muslim boy is run over and killed. The couple take the deceased boy to the vacation home where they and their hosts must deal with the repercussions of their act.

The couple are David and Jo Henniger. David is a doctor and Jo is a children's author. During the course of this story we learn more about their background and the problems they've had in pursuit of their careers. In flashback sequences, we also learn about the Driss, the boy that was killed and about his life working for a European couple in Spain. He tells about his best friend Ishmael about his time there, and it is Ishmael who was with him at the time of his death and witnessed the car accident.

This story is in large part about the tensions and disparate beliefs and lifestyles between Muslim and Western ideology and the tension really ratchets up as we wonder if, and in what form, any vengeance or retribution will take.

I thought this was a great storyline and the sense of apprehension as to what was going to ultimately happen was palpable.

In critique, I felt the writing style was just not my cuppa. I was often taken out of the story by the dialogue which sounded stilted to me, and by many of the descriptions which seemed cliched. I also thought some of the actions of the characters seemed more to advance the plot then something they would have done in real life, although that didn't bother me as much as the problems just mentioned.

Still, I thought the author had a lot of interesting things to say about forgiveness and atonement, and he certainly had some astute and interesting observations to make about the clash of cultures and what can happen as a result.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Polzin on September 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Osborne's "The Forgiven," about the misdeeds of privileged Londoners in Morocco, leads the reader on a tension-driven odyssey and ends....well, surprisingly.

The Moroccan desert makes for a more-than-stunning backdrop to this fascinating read. Osborne has also written travelogues (Bangkok Days, Paris Dreambook), and it shows in his attention to background details. He seems to know Morocco well.

I particularly liked the portrayal of the husband and wife, David and Jo, the Londoners who have come to Morocco for a huge party for wealthy Westerners. There are many layers of deceit in the story, as well as interesting ideas about what makes a "reputation."

Good stuff.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Forgiven is a deeply provocative, thoughtful examination of a marriage in search of crisis to justify severing the tattered connection of two individuals grown weary of each other's failings. It is also the scene of David Henniger's moral disintegration in a conflict so elementary as to render the self-centered Brit ineffective. The couple speeds recklessly toward a weekend bacchanal at the retreat of two male friends, David's intemperate nature already exacerbated by a bottle of wine at dinner, unprepared for the roadside accident in which a young Muslim and his friend abruptly approach the car, expecting it to stop. One stranger dead on impact, the other escaped to the hills, David and Jo Henniger approach the private oasis of Richard Galloway and Dally Margolis in the Moroccan Sahara with a dead body in the back seat of their rented vehicle. David's self-righteous blustering aside: "A Muslim had been killed by a Christian. The mind could not accept it entirely, except on the flimsy level of reason."

As the couple bickers over fault, David fueled by alcohol, the authorities are properly notified, the weekend's merriment barely distracting the preoccupied guests. The real drama begins with the arrival of the boy's father, Abdellah, from a distant village in the mountains. David is subtly coerced into returning to the village with Abdellah and his companions to pay homage to the dead and grieving relatives, but Jo is left to await her husband's return. The drugged revelry and excesses of the party-goers and the privation of those who chisel a meager living from the face of a mountain bring into sharp focus the difference in cultures, even more striking given the grating narcissism of a spoiled, bitter drunk forced to confront the consequences of his carelessness. The return to the celebration, the stunning conclusion and the vast landscape as indifferent witness will not soon be forgotten. Luan Gaines/2012.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J-J-J-Jinx! VINE VOICE on January 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I've been trying to decide what I think about this book. I finished it last night and this morning at first I couldn't remember the ending. Here we have a couple, David and Jo, who are not that happily married and yet stuck in an ugly holding pattern. They are invited to a fabulous multi-day dinner party in the Moroccan desert by a fellow David knows from school. They are bickering in the car on the way there and mostly accidentally kill a young guy who runs out in front of their car. What follows is David eventually going off not quite willingly with the father of the young guy and Jo staying behind at this debauche party full of drugs, alcohol and opportunistic men.

This book will of course be compared to Paul Bowles "The Sheltering Sky", and perhaps intentionally so. The couple with the slowly dying marriage, the setting of the desert where the tourists have little idea of the dangers or little regard for the hatred directed toward them. There is even the guy lusting after the wife, although instead of them bringing them with, he shows up at the party separately. It almost seems like a dream one or both of the couple could have had after they stayed up late watching the movie version of The Sheltering Sky and drinking too much one night back in England.

And yet...this book is a pale shadow of "The Sheltering Sky". And's not a bad book. The author is relentless with the descriptions of the desert and the local peoples and the ongoing party and endless parade of food and beverage, and all of that is quite good and well-written. I imagined him carrying a notebook around all over Morocco, jotting down sights and sounds. That part of the book I really enjoyed.
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