Book Reviews

May We Be Forgiven- A.M.Holmes

May We

A.M. Homes won the 2013 Women’s Prize for Fiction for May We Be Forgiven. You must have a dark sense of humor to enjoy this novel and I found it hysterical.

It’s Thanksgiving and Harry Silver is 48 years old, works part time as a professor and is writing a novel about his idol Richard Nixon. He’s married to Claire, a woman consumed with her career, has no children and no pets. Harry has lived his entire life in the shadows of his younger, wealthier brother, George, until George essentially loses his mind. With his brother in the hospital and his wife on a business trip, Harry makes the most of the situation and starts an affair with his sister-in-law, Jane. One night while they’re sleeping, George breaks out of the hospital and returns home. When he finds his wife in bed with his brother, he murders her and is carted off to a mental institution. When Harry’s wife finds out, she kicks him out of their New York city apartment; therefore he’s forced to move into George’s suburban home to take care of his dog, cat, and rose bushes. Soon after, his niece and nephew arrive home from boarding school.

One of the funniest yet bleakest moments in the novel is on page 47, when Harry, Ashley and Nate have Jane’s spaghetti sauce for dinner. “I love Mom’s spaghetti,” Ashley says and George responds with: “Great,” I say, worried that there are only two more containers in the freezer and they’re going to have to last a lifetime. I’m wondering if spaghetti sauce can be cloned. If we serve a sample or take a swab of Jane’s sauce, can someone make more?”

Another funny part takes place in the nursery home where Harry’s mother resides. On page 62: “I notice she too has bracelets, a blue one that says “Demented” and the same orange “Do Not Resuscitate.” His mother and her roommate argue over ice cream sundaes so her roommate decides to show off by tying a cherry with her tongue. Page 63: “Harder with dentures,” she says, taking a break, “but I’m making progress.”

Toward the end of the novel, Harry, Ashley, Nate, and Ricardo, a boy who Harry is in the process of adopting, fly to a South African village to celebrate Nate’s bar mitzvah. During their stay, Harry meets Londisizwe, the medicine man, who has a keen sense of intuition. On page 394, he explains to Harry that, “You may feel okay right now, but you are not okay inside. You are holding something foul- it needs to come out, and you are afraid to let it go. It is something from long ago; you have kept it like a companion so you don’t feel so alone, but now you have a family, and in order to be healthy, it needs to come out.”

Harry is easy to relate to because he’s an average person. He’s awkward, lonely, and lost but doesn’t realize just how much until Ashley, Nate, Tessie the dog, the cat, and a plethora of other people enter his life, his home, and ultimately his heart. On Thanksgiving, one year later, Harry thinks, “I do not fear the other shoe falling; actually I am not even wearing shoes.” (page 451).








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  1. You know I’m down for anything that could be described as ‘snarky’!
    Katie Cross recently posted…Why Blackout Drunks Make Great Books.My Profile

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