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May We Be Forgiven Paperback – October 11, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 227 customer reviews

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Paperback, October 11, 2012
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Granta/Portobello Omes (October 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847083226
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847083227
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.3 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (227 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In novels like THE END OF ALICE and MUSIC FOR TORCHING, A.M. Homes hasn't shied away from grim subjects, pedophilia and school gun violence only two of them. Her new novel returns to familiar territory --- the American suburbs --- to tell a powerful story of despair and redemption, all the while probing what she's consistently sought to expose, in the vein worked by writers like Richard Yates and John Cheever, as the real heart of darkness at the core of suburban life.

Homes observed in a recent interview that "Despite the sense that things are looking up now, there remains an ongoing level of discomfort, an unarticulated anxiety about what will `go wrong' next." That's the spirit that looms over this story. It begins with two violent acts perpetrated by George Silver, a prominent television executive with anger management issues and the younger brother of Harold Silver, the story's narrator. The first is a car accident that kills a mother and father, leaving behind their young son. The second, George's murder of his wife when he returns home to find her in bed with Harold, launches Homes' protagonist on a lurching journey of self-discovery.

Though the disasters that cascade over Harold (divorce, illness and job loss only a few of them) at times rises almost to a Job-like level, that's where the similarities to the biblical character end. On his own behalf the most he can say is, "Before this happened, I had a life, or at least I thought I did; the quality, the successfulness of it had not been called into question." Clearly, he's more acted upon than actor.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel embodies a clash of two literary themes. The opening chapters are quite spicy--garnished with quirky, kinky, violent, depraved and hypersexual scenarios--followed later by a Pollyannaish morality tale which turns into one extended Kumbaya chant. In these chapters a sugary patina is applied to just about everyone-- the pets, the geriatric set, the children, the adulterers, etc. Suddenly, all are supersensitive philosophers, global ecumenicists--respectful, improbably intelligent, well-behaved and philanthropic. Money never seems to be a problem to these folks and exorbitant spending sprees ensue. To be quite honest, however, the Richard Nixon thread is done very well and the literary quality is actually quite high overall. As a result, I have no problem giving this book a 4-Star rating.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel begins with an act of horrific violence that is frankly unforgivable. So my answer to the question implied by the book's title is "no." But there is an easy kind of redemption embedded in the book designed to let the protagonist (and the author) off the hook and make the reader feel good. That probably explains why reviewers loved this book and festooned it with prizes. I enjoyed it well enough - but never bought into the fairy tale aspects of the plot.

As the book begins, we are around a Thanksgiving table. The father of the family, the brutal and mentally-disturbed George Silver, is carving turkey. His two children, aged 10 and 11 sit like lumps at the table diddling with their devices. In the kitchen, George's brother Harry is kissing George's wife Jane.

Fast forward a few weeks: George is involved in a hit-and-run killing a couple in the other car and leaving their son an orphan. George bursts into his house, finds Harry and Jane together and smashes Jane in the head with a vase or something. She is fatally injured, lingers for a chapter or two in a coma and then is switched off. Harry assumes responsibility for the two children.

At first, this book seems like a progression of Harry's life downhill. He's a professor at a minor college teaching kids about Richard Nixon, the subject of an unfinished book he's been writing for years. Harry kind of admires Tricky Dicky - another character on a downward spiral. We get a lot about Nixon in this book - some real, some imagined. It seems to stand for a kind of metaphor but the meaning remained elusive for me.

Somewhere along the line, Harry hits bottom and starts to take responsibility.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read two of Homes' books before and loved both of them. When I read the awful reviews on Amazon, I debated whether to read it or not. In general, I won't read a book unless it's rated 4 stars and above. I really enjoyed this book. The only reason that I don't give it 5 stars is that I realize that this is not a book for many people. I enjoyed Harold's ride of life through the book. I thought he became a pretty good person despite his background and the bad things that happen to him in the book. I think his sex life is totally unbelievable but since I thought this book was filled with comedy, I took the sex sequences as part of the comedy. I enjoyed the Nixon side of the book because I was around during his presidency and the mess he made of it. I liked how Harold's life just grew around him, almost without him trying, because he was basically a nice guy. Most families have some type of dysfunction in them and Harold's family has plenty. However, who would not care for a sick brother or sick mother? Who would not care for the other characters that come into Harold's life. I think Homes has a good insight into our lives and it shows in this good book.
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