Another fantastic novel from the amazing a.m.homes – one for everyone I know, from my best friends to acquaintances, from my book-loving mother to the non-readers in my life: I would recommend this to everyone.
At the beginning of the novel, Harry’s life is relatively normal. He is married, with no children, he works as a history professor obsessed with Nixon and half envies half loathes his brother, George. George is a TV executive with a beautiful wife, Jane, who does what George wishes and cares for their two children, who are young teenagers at boarding schools. Harry and George bikker like all siblings do, but there seems to be more malice behind George’s actions than of a normal brother. And then something happens, during Thanksgiving dinner, Jane and Harry share a secret kiss – and all their lives begin to spin out of control.
A series of disastrous and shocking events sees George landing in a psychiatric ward, Jane dead and Harry divorced, living in his brother’s house and in charge of the two children, Nate and Ashley.
May We Be Forgiven follows Harry through the first year of his new life. Harry tries to make sense of everything that has happened. As well as caring for Nate and Ashley he also ends up taking responsibility for various other people who have been affected by Harry and George’s actions and meeting characters who change his perspective on life. From a woman he meets online to the owners of the local Chinese take away, everyone Harry encounters allows him to look at life in a whole new way.
After reading, and loving, the End of Alice I knew I would dip my toes into a.m.homes again and I definitely chose a an amazing place to dive back in.
Firstly, I really enjoyed the voice of Harry. Harry is unforgivingly honest and totally bewildered by his new life, stumbling through. He gives everything a go and is surprised by his ability to cope. He thoughts are wonderfully crafted, he ponders upon every action, meditates on the history of Nixon and grapples with the troubling reality of his new life.
I love the relationships that are formed along the way, in particular the ones between Harry and the children, Nate and Ashley. Harry finds himself besotted with the children, who he has misunderstood before – they are intelligent and interesting, conscientious and charitable, loving and fun. He spends quality time with them and learns their quirks and their worries, turning into a father like George never was.
Harry, as a history professor, has a specialism in Nixon and I found myself inexplicably interested in Nixon (having known nothing of him previous to the book). The way Harry is so fascinated by Nixon, and the way that this is presented in the novel, makes the reader also fascinated. I read up on Nixon during my time reading the Novel and was stunned by how much research a.m.homes must have done.
And lastly, something about the novel that is often not spoken of, but is very important, is the pace. The way the book moves through the day to day and month to month, I found so wonderfully pleasant and never, every boring.