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May We Be Forgiven (2012)

by A.M. Homes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9615716,772 (3.66)133
Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper. They have been uneasy rivals since childhood. Then one day George loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life.
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» See also 133 mentions

English (52)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
The book starts with an accident, an affair, an escaped mental patient, a murder, a divorce, 3 orphans from 2 different families, and a Professor of Nixon Studies - that's just the first 50 pages! And the story just keeps going like an adrenaline inducing runaway roller coaster for the next 500 pages. The plot - full of random characters, darkly comedic undertones, and outrageous situations - is skillfully pulled together to include some heartwarming moments and a solid ending. ( )
  Penny_L | Jan 8, 2020 |
This didn't end up going where I expected it to, it went a lot of very dark places but was, ultimately, hopeful at the end.
George is a TV executive and very sucessful. His wife, Jane, makes a pass at her brother in law (our narrator, Harry) one Thanksgiving. Their affair results in murder taking place and the entire family being turned upside down (that's not a spoiler, it happens fairly early on). The story plays out over the terrible events of the year that follows. By the end, the lives of many people have changed drastically, and not always for the better.
. At times I wasn't too sure I liked Harry, he gets into some very strange situations for no very good reason, but his nephew and niece bring out in him something that he doesn't realise is there. IN trying to deal with each day as it comes, he manages to deal with life a lot more directly than he has previously, and to achieve some good in other lives as well. This makes is ound rather worthy, but it really isnt. The cover describes this as being blackly funny, and there were certainly moments of very dark humour. But for me, it is more a book of how we can all be something we don't expect, we have more capacity than we realise.
At various points while reading this was not my sort of book at all, but I kept going and the final third really lifted for me and I am left with a feeling of hope for this family and people in general. ( )
  Helenliz | Jun 5, 2019 |
Book by AM Holmes about the Jewish guy whose life goes sideways . Great laugh out loud fun.
  JoshSapan | May 29, 2019 |
A bit of a disappointment. A big fat sprawling book, with some really amusing moments and some really touching ones. But wow, the middle was a slog, and some of the allegedly funny scenes came across as borderline offensive. Really a two-star read, but I am granting one bonus point because I wrote my senior history thesis on Richard Nixon, and it's not often that one comes upon a fellow Nixon obsessive in one's fiction reading. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Harry and his brother George have not really got along for most of their lives. Harry is a mild-mannered historian who teaches at a college, George is high-flying tv executive. One Thanksgiving after dinner George's wife kisses Harry and their affair ends up with George charged with the murder of his wife and Harry losing his wife and his job. Facing life as a single man and charged with looking after George's children, Harry has to find a new path in life.

In this book A M Homes has taken a simple story of rivalry and infidelity and created a funny and clever novel. Neither Harry nor George is particularly likeable at the start but in exploring his new life Harry has a series of professional and sexual encounters that have huge influence on his future. The sub-plots about love among the retirees and the nature of Jewish families are wonderfully entertaining. Whilst this is a long book, it never seems overly extended and delights regularly. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)


Almost exactly three-quarters of the way through this wonderful, wild, heartbreaking, hilarious and astonishing novel, A M Homes gives us this paragraph: "And then – the real craziness starts. Later, I will wonder if this part really happened or if I dreamed it."

Given the huge amount of craziness in the 355 pages that precedes that paragraph, this really sets the reader up for a humdinger of a finale, one that Homes delivers with aplomb.....This is a piercing, perceptive and deeply funny novel about the nature of life, and about finding your family wherever you can, wherever you get comfort and something approaching love.
 
The narrative is unrelenting, and yet it makes a kind of sense that all these troubles should be brought to bear on a few individuals. What’s interesting about this book is that for all its ferocious now-ness, its messages are old fashioned. Peace is found in a South African village, amongst community and participation; acts of kindness bring their own rewards. Homes, however, is not a pious or a schmaltzy writer – she is aware that things are compromised, as when George’s son Nate realises that the South African villagers he’s been supporting are really only interested in what material goods they can buy. But this doesn’t detract from the morality of the book’s core. Only connect, Homes tells us, and we can escape the nightmare of the 21st century – if only for a while. .....AM Homes’s ambitious novel, May We Be Forgiven, impresses.
 
To pair sociological sweep with psychological intimacy, as this book sets out to do, is a laudable ambition. It may even be where the vital center of American fiction is, circa 2012. But Homes hasn’t yet developed the formal vocabulary to reconcile her Cheever side and her DeLillo side. Instead, they end up licensing each other’s failures, canceling each other out. And so what might have been a stereoscopic view of The Way We Live Now ends as an ungainly portmanteau: a picaresque in which nothing much happens, a confession we can’t quite believe, a satire whose targets are already dead.
 
And the novel is consistently interesting in more sombre ways, too, as when Harry discusses the "rusty sense of disgust" that he suspects might be his soul. May We Be Forgiven is a semi-serious, semi-effective, semi-brilliant novel which could not be called, overall, an artistic success. But you'd have to have no sense of the absurd, and no sense of humour, not to be pretty impressed.
 

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Homes, A.M.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forner, AlisonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herzke, IngoÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

Heyne (43817)
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For Claudia to whom I owe a debt of gratitude
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Do you want my recipe for disaster?
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Please do not combine with the single title book or the book containing this story. Thanks.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Harry is a Richard Nixon scholar who leads a quiet, regular life; his brother George is a high-flying TV producer, with a murderous temper. They have been uneasy rivals since childhood. Then one day George loses control so extravagantly that he precipitates Harry into an entirely new life.

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Book description
Harold Silver has spent a lifetime watching his younger brother, George, a taller, smarter, and more successful high-flying TV executive, acquire a covetable wife, two kids, and a beautiful home in the suburbs of New York City. But Harry, a historian and Nixon scholar, also knows George has a murderous temper, and when George loses control, the result is an act of violence so shocking that the brothers are hurled into entirely new lives in which they both must seek absolution.
Harry finds himself suddenly playing parent to his brother's two adolescent children, tumbling - hilariously -
down the rabbit hole of Internet sex, and dealing with aging parents who move through time like travelers on a fantastic voyage. Never having realized he was lost, he slowly starts to open up to the world around him, to rise to the occasion and take some risks. As Harry builds a new life and a modern family created by choice rather than biology, we become aware of the ways in which our history, both personal and political, can become our destiny and compel us to either repeat our errors or be the catalyst for change.
In this bold, playful, tenderhearted, and redemptive novel, by turns rollicking and serious and filled with all of her signature touches and flourishes, A.M. Homes digs deeply into themes of the American family, the near biblical intensity of fraternal relationships, our need to make sense of things, and our craving for connection. May We Be Forgiven is an unnerving, funny tale of unexpected intimacies and of how one deeply fractured family might begin to put itself back together.
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