Author: Patrick Flanery
Publish Date: January 1, 2012 (the paperback is out today, April 2, 2013)
Source: I received the book from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.
Why You're Reading This Book:
- You're a fiction fan.
- You like vivid characters.
- You like intricate storylines.
From Goodreads.com: "Set in contemporary South Africa, Absolution is a big-idea novel about the pitfalls of memory, the ramifications of censorship, and the ways we are silently complicit in the problems around us. It’s also a devastating, intimate, and stunningly woven story. Told in shifting perspectives, it centers on the mysterious character of Clare Wald, a controversial writer of great fame, haunted by the memories of a sister she fears she betrayed to her death and a daughter she fears she abandoned. Clare comes to learn that in this conflict the dead do not stay buried, and the missing return in other forms—such as the child witness of her daughter’s last days who has reappeared twenty years later as Clare’s official biographer, prompting an unraveling of history and a search for forgiveness. Patrick Flanery is an exhilarating new writer, and this is a masterpiece of rich, complicated characters and narration that captures the reader and does not let go."
My Two Cents:
"Absolution" is a complicated but beautiful book about the secrets that some people try to leave behind. The book takes place during several time periods in South Africa both during and after Apartheid. The story is not told in a linear fashion, which made it hard to follow along sometimes as you had to keep track of when certain events were happening in order for the story to come together totally. That being said, as long as you read carefully, you will be just fine. This book will keep you turning the pages in order to find out what the connection is between the main characters. This book is a good illustration of how complicated life was towards the end of Apartheid and the period afterwards.
The story focuses mainly on Clare, a South African writer who is almost at the end of her life, and Sam, a writer/journalist of sorts, that is contacted by Clare to write her biography. This is not the only tie that Clare and Sam have. Much of the story is focused on the mystery and secrets that bind Clare and Sam together. Flanery gives readers small bites to think over before all of the pieces come together. Clare is not exactly a likeable character but she is absolutely fascinating. She's tough yet vulnerable. She is semi-manipulative with some of the things she chooses to say or not say to Sam. Although by the time Sam is writing her biography it has been over a decade since Clare last saw her daughter, Laura, Clare is still fixated on what happened to Laura in her last days. A little bit of her even holds on to the idea that Laura could still be out there somewhere alive and well.
The writing in this book is really good. It's amazing to me how Flanery was able to arrange the book in such a way that there are some secrets remaining up until the end of the book. He has a great way of writing characters that you really want to read about. You just want to see what happens to them and where they end up.
This book definitely made me want to know more about the period after Apartheid ended. I wasn't familiar with a lot of things that happened afterward and I didn't realize how long some of the government commissions in order to seek justice for various crimes lasted after the fall of Apartheid lasted.
This book would be perfect for when you want a character driven book that tackles a difficult subject and keeps you in suspense until the very last page.