BN.com Gift Guide
Customer Reviews for

The Wake of Forgiveness

Average Rating 3.5
( 153 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(37)

4 Star

(54)

3 Star

(40)

2 Star

(14)

1 Star

(8)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

Some books are meant to be remembered; this is one of them.

This book is so well written that the words leap from the page and make you an active participant in the story, rather than a voyeur. Every page makes you think more deeply about each of the characters. They almost invite themselves to be examined.
The story begins in ...
This book is so well written that the words leap from the page and make you an active participant in the story, rather than a voyeur. Every page makes you think more deeply about each of the characters. They almost invite themselves to be examined.
The story begins in the late 1800's and continues over a span of 29 years. The lawlessness, cruelty and hardship, that the author describes is palpable and his prose so powerful that it seemed to reach out and suck me into it, making me aware of the horrors of the characters lives as if I were actually there, in the moment, witnessing what they experienced. I could almost feel the tug of the yoke on the fields, the kicks to the animals, the beatings, the labor pains of the women, and even the sadness of heartache; such was the power of the words on the page that the tension lived inside me too.
Although the subject matter is difficult because of the violence and deeply flawed characters, there is occasionally a hint of softness, kindness and a longing for tenderness. In those moments you can catch your breath.
As I continued to read, it became harder. The brutality of the book is so penetrating that I found myself hoping there would be some kind of relief, some moment of redemption for some of the characters and some kind of retribution for others so that I could feel my feet on solid ground again. I would root for one or another character's success and then reverse myself when the character study deepened.
The book creates tension from page one and interest grows with each passing page to find out what is going to happen but with the interest comes the fear of what you will eventually learn about the unpredictable, too quick to react, violently brutal and competitive characters. Although there are those gentler moments which interject some calmness and allow the reader a small respite from the constant emotional seesaw, the author pushes the envelope in every scene in which men are interacting with each other.
Having finished the book, I can only come to one conclusion. It may be hard to read it because of its darkness, but read it you must, because this author has the power to make the words on the page live; this book is truly alive; it breathes with every breath caught in your throat as what you read seizes you with surprise and/or mystifies you as you become more and more enmeshed in the tale, completely in awe of the power of the written word and enrapt by the characters lives and travails.
This book is so well worth the effort to read. It would really lend itself to the analysis of a discussion group. There are endless topics to discuss, women's rights, physical abuse, equal rights, love and loss, dysfunctional family relationships, heartbreak, uncontrolled violence, vengeance, redemption, and forgiveness just to name a few. An analysis of the writer's style and his ability to almost take the reader hostage, would be rewarding, as well.
My recommendation is steel yourself and read it.

posted by thewanderingjew on September 19, 2010

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review

Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

Difficult time getting into this book

I am an avid reader but I had a very hard time getting into this book. It was probably because I didn't like the characters. I thought most of the men were cruel and the story was harsh and a little slow. I enjoy finding new authors but I didn't really care for this sto...
I am an avid reader but I had a very hard time getting into this book. It was probably because I didn't like the characters. I thought most of the men were cruel and the story was harsh and a little slow. I enjoy finding new authors but I didn't really care for this story or author.

posted by blugrasgroupie on October 15, 2010

Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 54 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 2 of 3
  • Posted September 29, 2010

    stirs emotions

    Although a dark and often upsetting story which stirs deep emotions, it is poetically written. Mr Machart's use of language is superb.
    The characters and their motivations kept me turning the pages despite the discomfort I felt with their attitudes and behaviors and way of life.
    I think this would be an excellent book club choice.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Highly narrative account of human heartache

    Karel was raised by a hard man. Having lost his mother at birth, his life has been spent side-by-side with his older brothers, all of them carrying the yoke of their father (quite literally). As an adult, he is estranged from his brothers and free of his father, and riding on the "wake of forgiveness".

    Karel's father Vaclav is hard and cruel, and yet I can't help but feel a certain sympathy for him. The softness of his wife was torn from him. At that moment, his soul was bared and exposed, and quickly scabbed over to become scarred and hard. Part of me feels for him, but his cruelty is hard to comprehend.

    This book was tough for me at times. That isn't to say that it is a bad story, or that it was bad writing. Quite the contrary, I think that the writing was quite good. It simply wasn't "my type" of writing style. It didn't "flow" for me.

    The majority of this book was narrative. I'm a dialogue-kinda gal. That's probably why I like Stephen King. I have seen author Machart compared to Cormac McCarthy, and I am not a fan of McCarthy. So it stands to reason that I may not be a huge fan of Machart.

    So this was a "good" story. It didn't really grab me or excite me, but it was well-written. If you like stories of human heartache, filled with narrative and little dialogue, then definitely give this book a try.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Very Well Written Story

    I came across this book and author through the First Look Book Club. I am glad to have had an opportunity to have read this story. This author has such a way with words that he draws you into the lives of this family immediately. It gives the reader an opportunity to witness the lives of a family struggling to make a living and a life for themselves in a harsh land. Life isn't always easy or pretty so there are some parts to this story that aren't but that being said I thought this author did an excellent job telling this family's story. Couldn't put it down and it is well worth the time spent.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Beautiful Imagery

    What a wonderful debut novel! If you love historical fiction, this is a must read! Great characters and imagery. Machart does a wonderful job of touch all your senses while you read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 27, 2010

    Highly Recommended

    I thoroughly enjoyed The Wake of Forgiveness. The language in it was beautifully descriptive. I was sad to see it end. I would like to follow the brothers and their families further.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great book! Great cover!!!!

    This is not a book you can breeze through. It shifts between different timelines, so you need to really be in the book when you read it. It is a very well written, highly descriptive book. The author has been compared to Faulkner, which I found to be true. I will be re-reading this story to truly capture the greatness.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Something different!

    This was really hard to put down once started. The plot grabs your attention and makes you want more. The characters were pretty well developed, but they could have been deeper had the novel been longer. Definitely different from other new novels on the market.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2010

    An emotional read! I enjoyed it!

    This was a very well written book. It taps into your emotions! Sadness, excitement, anger and tenderness, it's all in there. From the first few pages you're drawn in. I read this through the B&N first look club and am glad I did! I'll be thinking of this book for a while. Thanks to Bruce Machart for a wonderful book!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2010

    I recommend this book

    I would rate this a 3-3 1/2 stars for good descriptions and easy reading although troubling at times. It made you think of relationships that children have and how they shape a person's whole life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2010

    A Great Story!

    This was a story that kept me wanting to read every time I picked it up. Mr. Machart has a way of writing that makes me feel as if I'm stepping into the story and can actually picture the landscape and characters around me. Very moving storyline!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2010

    Thought provoking, soul searching. An excellent read

    While the story in this novel is sometimes a harsh one, it causes the reader to pause and reflect on the lives of the characters. It is inspiring. Many have to overcome obstacles in their own lives. To do so, we have to make peace with the past. The imagery is beautiful. The characters struggle to survive, yet they make their own lives and triumph over hardships, with the exception of Karal's father. It is refreshing to read on and find that Karal attempts to avoid those mistakes in the raising of his own children.

    This book is for readers who understand that life is about overcoming challenges and learning from one'e past mistakes and traumas. It would be an excellent book for a group discussion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 25, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Beautifully Written

    Beautifully and lyrically written but very dark. I had trouble getting into this book at first because it was dark and depressing but the writing was so beautiful that I kept reading and I'm glad I did. In the beginning I didn't think I'd feel compassion or empathy for anyone in this book but that changed as the book progressed. Vaclav Skala and his boys are alone since the death of his wife when she gave birth to Karel. People say Vaclav was a good man when he was with his wife but we don't see that man we see a cruel man without feeling who uses his sons as horses to plow his fields. The story skips around in time from 1895-1924 at first this was a bit jarring but after awhile you come to understand the flow the author was trying to convey. I don't want to give too much of this story away because this is a book you need to "feel" as it unfolds. It is a story of family, abuse, loneliness and lastly forgiveness. It is beautiful and haunting, dark and lyrical and worth reading. This may not have been a book I would have picked up but thanks to B&N First Look I read it and am glad I did. I would say to those who may think this isn't their cup of tea to go ahead and give it a try the prose will grab you and the characters will stay with you even if you don't like them. 4 Stars Thank-You B&N First Look for the opportunity to read this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2010

    Very well written

    Set at the turn of the previous century, this is the story of man
    Set apart at birth due to the death of his mother, Karel is similar yet separate from his brothers and that line carries through the book. It was well written and the writing makes the area and time period vivid. I didn't like most of the characters but I never consider that a flaw. The time shifting was a little tedious, simply because it is a device I've seen too much of lately, but it doesn't kill the book. Overall, I recommend it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2010

    A Tragic But Beautiful Family Story

    After reading The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Mahart, I must say that I loved this book! It is one of the most moving stories I've read since Edgar Sawtelle...I was so compelled by the story that I read the whole book in a few days.
    The author uses the technique of switching back and forth between the past and present. I must admit that I read it faster than I planned to because I would get just enough info to "need" to keep reading. This technique require more of a reader than a linear time line, but I liked it.

    The main character, Karel Skala, is an unusual protagonist, one we both pull for and dislike at times. His mother, Klara, died when he was born and his father has never shown him any love. Consequently, Karel doesn't know how to show love himself. He wants to but doesn't know how. He dreams of his mother and having tender moments with her. He has a good wife and two beautiful daughters but still dreams of a young love. The story is all about Karel's trying to be forgiven and to forgive so that he can have the kind of family life he was denied. The birth of a son begins to open his eyes.

    Machart takes the reader through this journey as Karel struggles to find himself and to be the kind of man, husband, and father that he wishes had been in his life. The journey isn't an easy one, but then nothing in Karel's life has been easy. He is not afraid to face anything. The ending is a satisfying one.

    The writing in the book is so lyrical that I found myself having to stop just to enjoy the beauty of the words or the magnificence of the sentence structure....reminds me of Pat Conroy's writing in that area.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Literary fiction fans will love this book

    Literary fiction fans will love Bruce Machart's debut novel, The Wake Of Forgiveness. The book is beautifully written with poetic prose and vivid, descriptive passages of the land, the people and the events in their lives. Set in early 20th century rural Texas, the novel centers around Karel Skala as he struggles to find the purpose in his life and to understand his connections with the land and his family. * * * * * * * The story begins with Karel's birth and at the same time the death of his mother, Klara. His father, Vaclav, cannot accept losing the only woman he had ever been fond of. He turns back into the hard, bitter, man he was before he met her. He treats his horses and farm animals better than his sons and they never know the love of a family while they are growing up. Karel always longs for the touch of the mother he never knew. We follow Karel's life as he becomes a man and learns about family through his own wife and children. Along the way he discovers what he has missed in life and eventually learns how to forgive both his brothers and his father. * * * * * This was a difficult read for me. It is not a book you can breeze through. I often needed to re-read passages to understand what happened. The sentences are lengthy and at times I felt they were too long going on for half a page. I would have to stop and parse the sentence to understand what the author meant. There was not a lot of dialog; this was a very descriptive novel. Most of the subject matter was dark and gritty. For example there were detailed passages describing a cow that had died giving birth, more than a few passages about chewing tobacco and other unpleasantries of the times. However, it was so skillfully and artfully presented that I could almost see and smell the images that were created in my mind. While I would prefer to read about the smell of spring flowers or a freshly mowed meadow, I will say the author has done his job when the reader feels something even if it's something unpleasant. * * * * * The novel uses the technique of shifting back and forth in time. Occasionally I had to flip back to the beginning of the section to remember what time period I was in but overall I felt this enhanced the story. We read of events and consequences and eventually go back to an earlier time see how the pieces fit together like a puzzle in Karel's life. It made the story more compelling than if it had been told in a linear fashion. * * * * * Overall I liked the book and would recommend it to fans of the genre, but it is not for everyone. Bruce Machart is an enormously talented writer. He definitely did his research on the language and history of time period. My one disappointment was that the female characters were mostly relegated to the background. I would have liked to know more about them and their lives and history, especially Karel's wife. They were portrayed as strong women but we never really got to know them.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The Wake of Forgiveness, A Roller Coaster Ride of Emotions

    "The Wake of Forgiveness" by Bruce Machart, is a novel of the hard life of a family at the turn of the twentieth century. This novel tells the story of loss and life. We follow the life of Karel Skala, the main character, as he goes through hard times, with the loss of his mother during his birth. We see trials and tribulations between families and within family. It's a story of love lost and found with many twists and turns along the way. The story jumps back and forth in time giving the reading a glimpse into the history of the family and Karel's life as well as how his life turns out in the end. Machart has an interesting way to telling the story and you will not know what to expect with each subsequent chapter. One major event, brings a family back together, and community shows that it cares for it's own. A very good read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Moving Story

    This is a very moving story set in the late 1800's/early 1900's in rural Texas. Although the relationships and subject matter are sometimes difficult to read, the writing is so moving and evokes such a strong emotional reaction to both the setting and characters, I found it hard to put the book down. For me, the writing style was so real I felt as if I had been to Lavaca County, Texas and had seen the events unfolding. Although due to the subject matter and some of the harshness of the relationships, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. There are some graphic descriptions of violence and realities of the time and setting that some may find hard to read. However I found the author's writing style so engrossing and moving that when not able to read it, I was anxious to return to the book and finish it. I don't read many books more than once, but this is definitely one that I will want to experience again. I will definitely look for more books from this author.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Gritty and raw but thought provoking

    The Wake of Forgiveness is set in late 1800s/early 1900s Texas. It is a gritty, raw tale of a Czech farmer who loses his wife in childbirth, leaving him with four sons to raise and a farm to run. His heavy hand, driving work ethic, and lack of nurture leave his sons with scars that run deeper than those that can be seen. Although Bruce Machart's beautiful imagery and ability to bring you "into the moment" make a difficult subject easy to read, it's not meant to be read quickly and without thought. The Skalas will remain with you long after the last page is read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2010

    Like a Julia Childs recipe,

    if you don't mind the hard work, the end result is worth it.

    Bruce Machart's first novel is an ambitious, beautifully written story of early 20th century Texas farm life, one that most readers will find demanding and even unsettling in its vivid descriptions of the harshness of the land, the cruelty of its inhabitants, the bloody outcomes, and the seemingly endless acts of betrayal. When the reader is caught up in the plot, he is suddenly thrust backward or forward in time, or the action is stopped for a lengthy - although beautifully crafted - description of a character's inner confusions, the introduction of a minor character, or the harshness or occasional beauty of the landscape. Especially with the changes in time, the reader will find himself turning back to re-read a section in order to understand better the part he is currently reading. I was occasionally jarred, also, by a phrase so beautiful and poetic that I found it impossible to believe it was coming from the mind of one of these damaged characters.
    I would not hesitate to recommend this book to lovers of serious literary fiction, who enjoy great writing, don't shirk from graphic descriptions of bodily functions, and don't mind slowing down to appreciate a lyrical turn of phrase. There is much grist for discussion groups who enjoy tackling meaty subjects: dysfunctional families, the nature of blame, women's history, even animal rights issues. This may be one of those books you really want to read a second time, to appreciate the things you missed at the first go. Readers looking for a few hours distraction as a good plot unrolls won't find it here. Don't put it in your beach bag.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    An atmospheric family drama set among TX famers

    Bruce Marchart's The Wake of Forgiveness is the September First Look selection at Barnes and Noble Book Clubs. This is Marchart's first novel; set among the Czech settlers who are determined to bend the tough Texas ground to their will, The Wake of Forgiveness evokes comparions with Ken Haruf and Cormac McCarthy. The story follows Karel, the youngest of four motherless brothers who all share the same acquired trait: their necks are deformed, kinked out to one side, from pulling their father's plow as a team. The reader sees Karel as an infant, a man, and a young boy as the narrative moves between time periods. His mother dies during his birth and he is nursed by a neighbor. Karel is a talented horse-rider but his father takes away that pleasure when he loses a race, tying his family's future to that of the mysterious Villasenor. He is a successful farmer and dutiful father and husband but is far from ideal. He makes a very serious error in judgement that brings tensions between Karel and his brothers to a head. Karel is most definitely a flawed human being, as is every other character in the novel, and it makes him a more compelling central character as he changes over the course of the novel. The ideas of forgiveness and family are at the heart of this novel. How should we act when we should forgive? How does one act when one refuses to forgive? Should we hold somene accountable for an event that was beyond his or her control? Where should one place blame? How do you define your family relative to the woman who gave birth to you or to the woman who nursed you? The Wake of Forgiveness is a very atmospheric novel. The heat of a dance hall, the smell of a barn, the steam rising from a horse in the rain. The settings are very tangible but not over-described. I found it very hard to put this book down because I could never find a very good place to stop reading. Do I choose the chapter break when Villasenor and his daughters first appear? How about the chapter from the hawk's perspective? The scene in the barn after the dance hall or the horse race? The morning after the twins' rampage? No chapter ever had a "cliff-hanger" but the story flowed so well, even between sections from different time periods, that I really just wanted to see what happened next..and next...and next...and then the book was done.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 21 – 40 of 54 review with 4 star rating   See All Ratings
Page 2 of 3