Top positive review
May We Be Forgiven
5 September 2013
Harry and George Silver are brothers. George is brash, arrogant, successful; Harry the quieter and more conventional. This novel takes us throughout a tumultuous year, which begins and ends with a Thanksgiving dinner. At the first, Harry is glad for his quiet life with success businesswoman Claire; as he eyes his brother's children Nathaniel (Nate) and Ashley, glued to their electonic devices, with a cynical eye, while George loudly holds court. Then, George's wife, Jane, brushes against him in the kitchen and his attraction for her ultimately leads to tragedy. This book has an amazingly hard hitting beginning and, apparently, it started life as a short story, which grew into a novel. We have barely begun when there is an accident, an affair, a murder and a whole series of tragic events, which end with Harry responsible for his brother's children. Childless himself, how does an academic - a Nixon scholar, who has spent years writing 'the' book on his hero - relate to two children he barely knows?
Bizarrely, Harry finds himself living in his brother's house; wearing his clothes, walking his (unwilling) dog and taking care of his roses. Along the way, we read of some of the more absurd sides of modern life - of internet relationships, unsettling visits to George at a mental facility, how his mother is creating a new life for herself in a cheeringly progressive facility for the elderly. Of course, the main story revolves around his attempts to make this new life work, how he collapses in stress and illness and regroups, learns how to parent without being a parent and the magic children bring to your life. It is mainly a novel about family. Of how the nuclear family has changed and expanded to mean so much more - as Harry somehow manages to make his next Thanksgiving filled with the people he has grown to care about during an overwhelming year. Clever, sharp, emotional and very funny - a great novel and a worthy winner of the Orange prize.