Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

Ben and Helen Armstead are living a perfect suburban life.  Ben is a lawyer while Helen is a stay at home mom to their teenage daughter, Sara.  This world falls apart, though, when Ben admits he is terminally bored and ends up creating a scandal that makes retaining any part of their lives untenable.

Left to support herself and Sara, Helen manages to find a job in the city in public relations.  Soon she is known for her specialty; helping clients move past their own scandals by publicly admitting blame for their actions and asking for forgiveness.  Helen is promoted and is in vogue; anyone with a scandal wants her at their side. 

As she becomes consumed by her career, Sara starts to go off the tracks.  When Helen takes Sara to a movie premiere, she reconnects with her earlier life and finds herself seated by the movie's leading man, Hamilton Barth.  She and Hamilton grew up in the same little town, but had not seen each other in years, and Hamilton actually doesn't remember Helen.  But when he finds himself caught up in a scandal, he remembers her new career and calls her in.  Can Helen handle Barth's problem, and if so, at what cost to herself and Sara?

Jonathan Dee has written an intriguing novel about how humans handle their mistakes.  We all need a pardon eventually for some hasty, misbegotten action, or some expedient action meant to solve an issue that instead makes it worse.  We all have to make decisions about when and if to pardon those who have wronged us.  Dee explores this situation with deft understanding.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction, and those interested in the human condition.

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