Review of "A Thousand Pardons" by Jonathan Dee

A Thousand Pardons

By Jonathan Dee
Rating: 4 Stars

Review: Self-absorption, narcissism and destructive behavior typify the characters in Jonathan Dee’s astute novel on depravity, recklessness, redemption and forgiveness. In a culture that breeds abandoning family responsibility for the sake of personal “freedom,” A Thousand Pardons is hauntingly familiar.
Far too many women in this country find themselves in situations similar to Helen Armstead — sitting among the ruins of their shattered lives, attempting to make sense of a spouse gone mad, while at the same time grasping the fragments before them and courageously piecing them together for the sake of the children and their own sanity. While some women don’t fare nearly as well as Helen does, many come through the experience wounded, but stronger, with a greater sense of the purposes, boundaries and expectations they carry within them. In crafting “The Great Gatsby” of this century, Dee seems to understand this cultural phenomenon and raises important questions about the balance of power within relationships and the extent to which a family, a spouse, and a friend can go to make sense of the insanity.  
I received a complimentary pre-publication electronic copy of A Thousand Pardons from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Product Description from the Publisher: For readers of Jonathan Franzen and Richard Russo, Jonathan Dee’s novels are masterful works of literary fiction. In this sharply observed tale of self-invention and public scandal, Dee raises a trenchant question: what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?

Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. Then, in one afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes an alarming turn, and everything the Armsteads have built together unravels, swiftly and spectacularly.
Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in public relations and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift, indispensable in the world of image control: She can convince arrogant men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her personal one.

As she is confronted with the biggest case of her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her own capacity for forgiveness.

Category: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Pub Date: March 2013
Hardcover:  224 pages
List Price: $26.00
Kindle: $12.99


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