18 April 2013

Thursday's Review: A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

Although I would not class A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee as one of the best books I have read, I did enjoy it. The problem is, I can't quite decide what it is about the book that drew me in. The item in the book that sets the story in motion is a glaringly bad decision made by Ben Armstead, a middle aged lawyer in the midst of a mid life crisis. When Ben decides to have a fling with a summer intern in his office, not only does his whole life start to unravel, but so do the lives of his wife, Helen, and daughter, Sarah. Dee spends the rest of the book detailing how these three characters work to get their lives back on track. 

Eventually Helen becomes aware that she is going to have to go to work, and surprisingly, lands a job at a one-man PR firm in Manhattan. It is in the pursuit of doing her job that Helen comes into her own, counseling clients that a sincere apology can do a lot more for your image than trying to hide from the truth will. I have to admit, I found this idea of taking responsibility for your actions and living up to your commitments refreshing. It is probably the best thing about this book, and something that I feel is sorely lacking in large portions of our current society. The more respect and success that Helen garnered by promoting this idea, the more I liked the book. I also liked the contrast that the author presented during the one crisis when Helen deviates from this approach. It is the inclusion of this crisis and what it highlights about business as usual in today's society that really made the book for me. 

Another plus was the straightforward method of telling the story that the author used. This is not a complex and twisted story of what motivates people and drives them to make the choices that they make. If it were, I may have given it 5 stars. As it is, I enjoyed the straightforward method that he used in telling his story, and again, found it refreshing. 

The characters in the book were certainly not it's strongest draw. I can only think of one character who did not come across as mostly weak and ineffectual. That character was Helen's first boss and he did not have a very large role in the book. That is not to say that the other characters did not have short moments of brilliance, but they were just too few and far between for me. They were, though, somewhat redeeming and the things that kept me reading. 

In the published description of the book the overlying theme of the book is stated as "what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?" I felt it was more along the line of, "what are we really looking for when we realize that we have made a mistake?", but all in all, I felt the question raised was worth exploring and that Jonathan Dee did a reasonable, although not exceptional, job of exploring it.  As such, I am giving the book 3 stars, but it is probably more like a 3.5 star book.  

I would like to thank both Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.