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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Forgive Me Needs No Forgiveness

With a show of hands as to who "liked" this book, my quick count was 3 who didn't and 13 who did.

Dennis, who posted on this blog after reading all of Amanda Eyre Ward's books, said that the other 2 books were happier and more pleasant to read because of that.

This started a discussion of the somewhat driven and dark character of Nadine. We summarized Nadine as self-centered and/or centered on her job, placing her job and ambition before her concerns with relationships or even with her own safety. We characterized Nadine as afraid of relationships but not physical danger. Someone noted that Nadine left everyone in her life. It was through the events of this story that Nadine finally stopped leaving people.

I thought the most interesting aspect of our discussion of Forgive Me was that we had trouble making any criticism stick. When someone mentioned that the writing, particularly at the beginning of the book, was choppy, someone else suggested that the author had done this purposely to express Nadine's anxiety and the frightening beating that starts the reader turning the pages of the book. When someone complained that Nadine's decision to trade her driven lifestyle for hearth and home was out of character, the group found ample precedent in what we knew about Nadine. There was the flashback to the comfortable family of Nadine's ex-boyfriend that she very much appreciated when she visited; the plans she and Maxim had made before his death, and the natural instincts that tend to be part of the pregnancy package. Without any of these, the change might have seemed insincere, but with them all, it fit.

Another instance where the author had carefully laid ground for what might seem an implausibility was when Nadine showed up to rescue Harry just in the nick of time! We found that this was not just a coincidence. I can't find all the passages without rereading too much to ever get this message posted; but there seemed to be evidence in the book that Nadine had planned to be there. Carla mentioned that even when children are secretive, and perhaps especially then, parents are watchful and may know what is happening. Part of the redemption and forgiveness in the story took place when Nadine did manage to be there when her son needed her. This contrasted with her missing Maxim's death and Thola's and not helping Evalina's cause with her original newspaper article.

Our discussion answered questions some of us asked and answered some questions that others didn't realize were questions! We uncovered reasons for characters' actions and reasons for things that happened seemingly beyond the characters' control. The answers were all in the book, but they were hidden in the text that bounced from one place and time to another.

Forgive Me was a page turner with a lot of depth! The group was enthusiastic about the idea of inviting the author, Amanda Eyre Ward, to join us for a discussion of her books later this year. She has a new book of short stories scheduled for release this summer, so we may aim for early fall.

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