Forgive Me

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Overview

From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost comes a gorgeous new novel about love, memory, and motherhood.

Nadine Morgan travels the world as a journalist, covering important events, following dangerous leads, and running from anything that might tie her down. Since an assignment in Cape Town ended in tragedy and regret, Nadine has not returned to South Africa, or opened her heart–until she hears the story of Jason Irving.

Jason, an American ...

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From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost comes a gorgeous new novel about love, memory, and motherhood.

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NY 2007 Hard cover First edition. 1st Edition 2007. New in new dust jacket. Signed by author. Signed by Amanda Eyre Ward. 1st Edition 2007. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast ... Arrival. Pristine. Carefully packaged in bubble wrap. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 236 p. Audience: General/trade. Signed by Amanda Eyre Ward. 1st Edition 2007. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Pristine. Carefully packaged in bubble wrap. Read more Show Less

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Forgive Me

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Overview

From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost comes a gorgeous new novel about love, memory, and motherhood.

Nadine Morgan travels the world as a journalist, covering important events, following dangerous leads, and running from anything that might tie her down. Since an assignment in Cape Town ended in tragedy and regret, Nadine has not returned to South Africa, or opened her heart–until she hears the story of Jason Irving.

Jason, an American student, was beaten to death by angry local youths at the height of the apartheid era. Years later, his mother is told that Jason’s killers have applied for amnesty. Jason’s parents pack their bags and fly from Nantucket to Cape Town. Filled with rage, Jason’s mother resolves to fight the murderers’ pleas for forgiveness.

As Nadine follows the Irvings to beautiful, ghost-filled South Africa, she is flooded with memories of a time when the pull toward adventure and intrigue left her with a broken heart. Haunted by guilt and a sense of remorse, and hoping to lose herself in her coverage of the murder trial, Nadine grows closer to Jason’s mother as well as to the mother of one of Jason’s killers–with profound consequences. In a country both foreign and familiar, Nadine is forced to face long-buried demons, come to terms with the missing pieces of her own family past, and learn what it means to truly love and to forgive.

With her dazzling prose and resonant themes, Amanda Eyre Ward has joined the ranks of such beloved American novelists as Anne Tyler and Ann Patchett. Gripping, darkly humorous, and luminous, Forgive Me is an unforgettable story of dreams and longing, betrayal and redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Injured on assignment, foreign correspondent Nadine is too restless to recuperate comfortably at her father's bed-and-breakfast on Cape Cod, so she gets involved with a local couple whose son has been murdered in South Africa. With an eight-city tour; from the author of How To Be Lost. nonfiction Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Ward's third novel (after How To Be Lost) parallels the twin tumults of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in the late 1990s and protagonist Nadine Morgan's restless search for the next big story at the cost of her personal relationships. Like her namesake, South African novelist Nadine Gordimer (whom the author thanks in the acknowledgments), Nadine is a privileged white woman horrified by apartheid. A significant difference between them is that Ward's character is an outsider, an American drawn to hot spots. The novel follows Nadine as she returns to South Africa for a hearing involving a friend's sister, who murdered a white American; guilt and conviction already assured, the question is whether the perpetrator will be forgiven by the victim's grieving parents. Nadine, who must reconcile herself to her own past mistakes, is an appealingly vulnerable and complex character. Unfortunately, the two men in her life are less compelling, and chapters told by a young, mysterious narrator fit awkwardly, interrupting the narrative. Still, one cannot help but be moved by the characters' desperate desire to find peace and meaning in a bewildering world. Recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ2/1/07.]
—Evelyn Beck

Kirkus Reviews
Always-on-the-run journalist thrill-seeker is finally forced to deal with the consequences of the horrors she loves to report. The heroine of Ward's powerful and fast-paced novel (How to Be Lost, 2004, etc.) isn't anybody's idea of a nice girl. Edging into her mid-30s, Nadine is a hotshot newspaper stringer who's always been better at escaping than living, dashing off to whatever foreign land is hosting the most saleable atrocities while ignoring family and friends. As the story begins, Nadine has just barely escaped being killed by drug traffickers in Mexico and is recuperating in her father's bed-and-breakfast in the "small and strange" Cape Cod fishing village of her childhood, "now populated by drunks and scientists." Another big story is brewing, and barely functioning Nadine is hungry to get away, this time back to South Africa, where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is taking testimony from victims of Apartheid violence. There is a local connection-a white boy from Nadine's town who moved to one of the townships to teach was killed by a mob of blacks chanting "one settler, one bullet"-and a personal one: Nadine once lived there, and when she left, to pursue yet another story, she left behind the love of her life. Nadine's bratty and selfish behavior is on full display (in fits of adolescent pique, she tries to impress her sad and widowed father and spurned once-best friend with her worldliness) and there are flashbacks to her earlier South African sojourn, as well as episodes from the journal of the murdered boy. The flashbacks encompass an impressive amount of the country's history and cataclysmic violence; the journal episodes, meanwhile, are a distraction, the rare wrongnote in a tightly constructed and oddly romantic novel. An acute, sharp-angled love story with a rare sense of history. Agent: Michelle Tessler/Tessler Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345494467
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/19/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Amanda Eyre Ward is the award-winning author of How to Be Lost and Sleep Toward Heaven. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Nadine hears the parrots. So picturesque in the evening, floating over the courtyard while she sips tequila and deciphers the day’s notes, the birds make the hot dawn intolerable. Two thin pillows cannot block the cacophony. Nadine’s sheets press against her body. She remembers the warm lips of a local journalist, but wakes alone.

A room at La Hacienda Solita includes breakfast. Slowly, Nadine makes her way to the wooden table outside the kitchen. She orders eggs, beans, coffee, and juice from the girl. The juice arrives in a ceramic glass filled with ice cubes, and Nadine drinks it, though she should not. The girl—no more than ten—stands next to the table, her bare feet callused. She watches Nadine.

There is a communal shower. Nadine uses Pert Plus shampoo, bought in an American Rite Aid on her way back over the border: she was in a Laredo police station when the news of the twelve dead boys came in.

Nadine travels light: a comb, shampoo, lotion, lipstick. Two T-shirts, two pairs of pants, lace underwear—her one indulgence. She has an apartment in the Associated Press compound in Mexico City, but hasn’t been there in a month.

On the dashboard of her rental car, Nadine finds a rubber band. She pulls her black hair back with both hands, affixes the band, and puts on sunglasses. She opens her topographic map. Today, she will find and interview the boys’ families. The mother of one boy told a local TV reporter that her son had worked in a seafood restaurant. Her large, two-story home and expensive clothes told a different story.

The car’s air-conditioning is broken. Nadine punches the radio on and begins to drive. Her Spanish is good; languages have always come easily to her. She plays the music loudly and hums along. It’s a song about a man who wronged a woman. “If you come back to me,” the man sings, “I will never stray again.” She thinks of the journalist’s spicy cologne, his breath against her ear as they swayed to jukebox melodies at the cantina. She smiles. It took half a bottle of Herradura and a few kisses to get directions to the boys’ tiny village.

Nadine drives slowly down the narrow streets. Men unlock metal doors and heave them upward, exposing bright fruits and vegetables, rows of shirts, videocassettes. Women sweep the sidewalk and children walk to school, holding hands. A donkey cart blocks Nadine’s way, then lurches down a side alley.

Finally, she reaches the outskirts. Passing squat homes protected by latticework concrete, Nadine accelerates. The air blazing through her open window is little comfort. She heads toward the mountains. Ian made her promise to wear the bulletproof vest, but Nadine reasons that having it in the backseat is good enough. It’s heavy and bulky, and for Christ’s sake it’s got to be a hundred degrees.

Nadine reaches the place she’s marked on her map with an X and pulls off the road. At a gas station, she fills the car and takes out her list of names. The man behind the counter, old and overweight, looks at Nadine without expression. He sells her a warm Coke. When she asks to use the bathroom, the man gestures with his hand. She walks behind the store, positioning her feet on either side of the fetid hole.

The village does not have paved roads, and Nadine’s head begins to hurt as she drives over uneven ground. She sees a group of men gathered outside one thatched-roof home. The men stare as Nadine approaches. Nadine slows the car and tries a smile. She is met with stone faces.

The thoughts flood her—Something is wrong. You should have told Ian where you were going. You should not have come alone. Back away, put on the vest—but the thoughts will fade. Nadine sets her jaw and keeps driving.

The men look at one another, at the approaching Honda. By some consensus, they rush the car, and Nadine tries to stop, to reach the locks. It is too late, but she grabs the gearshift, smoothly putting the car in reverse.

As she presses the gas, a tall man wearing a Cookie Monster  T-shirt opens the passenger-side door. His sweat smells metallic as he climbs in the car. He unlocks the driver’s-side door, reaching across Nadine. The door is opened from outside. Two men drag Nadine out of the car and into the street. She fights—clawing at the men with her fingernails, screaming that she is periodista, a journalist. Their fists hit her stomach, and then her rib cage.

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Reading Group Guide

1. If you have read Ward’s previous novels, How to Be Lost and Sleep Toward Heaven, did you find similarities between them and Forgive Me? How would you describe Ward’s writing style? To which other writers would you compare her work?

2. Was the depiction of apartheid in Forgive Me consistent with what you have heard or read, or did it change your sense of the conditions? Was the South Africa of the novel familiar or new to you?

3. Ward says she was compelled by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s model, “the concept of telling the truth and being set free.” What were your impressions of the TRC? Can you imagine how hearing a perpetrator’s story in his or her own words might influence your judgment of a crime?

4. How does forgiveness figure into the novel? Who seeks forgiveness? Who is able to forgive? Did the novel make you think about forgiveness in your own life?

5. What did you think of the Irvings? Could you forgive someone who killed a loved one?

6. After finishing the novel, did your reading of the epigraph change?

7. Did your feelings about Nadine change over the course of the novel? What parts of her character do you relate to the most? Does she do anything you found morally questionable?

8. One reviewer wrote that upon finishing Forgive Me, “readers will want to start all over again, looking for the clues they missed the first time around when Ward, like a cunning magician, so deftly led them astray.” Did you reread sections of the novel morethan once, uncovering clues? How did the journal entries affect the unfolding story for you? What about them did you find most poignant? Misleading? Illuminating?

9. There are many ambitions in this novel—from Nadine and Maxim’s commitment to capturing the ravages of war, to Thola’s dancing career, to the aspirations charted in the “Nantucket to Stardom” entries. How does ambition define the characters in Forgive Me? How does it disappoint them?

10. In many ways motherhood is at the heart of this book. What do the mothers in the novel—Ann, Fikile, Sophia, Lily, and ultimately Nadine—have in common? How do their circumstances and choices distinguish them from one another?

11. How does growing up without a mother affect Nadine? In what ways does she seem to reconsider the role of a mother? Did you find the path she chooses unexpected or inevitable? Does it resonate with your own experience of reconciling work and family life?

12. Do you think Thola loved George? What struck you most about their story?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    H

    H

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2014

    To amanda bear

    Wowow!!!! OMFG i cant believe it!!!!! Im a cheerleader too!!!!! And im totes like u!!! But im not allowed to show off my belly. Lol. Any ways so see ya there and ps ill totally be ur friend!!!!! Love mac1202

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  • Posted August 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Applaud Journalists

    This book was captivating. The author ties in the future and the present at the same time, which lead to the conclusion to the story. The main character is nonchalant, but decisive. Forgive Me is a reminder of how journalists informs the people of what's going on in our world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book captured my attention from the very beginning!! I could not put it down!! Wonderfully written!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2008

    A Compelling, Thought-Provoking Read

    Amanda Ward's Forgive Me starts with a bang (or a punch, to be more precise) it grabbed me by the end of its spare and haunting three-page chapter one and never let up. Through Nadine Morgan, a journalist who returns to post-apartheid South Africa, drawn by the ghosts of her own past as well as those of the country's history, Ward delivers a story about relationships and motherhood and love, and about the temptation to forget and the redemption of remembering. A compelling, thought-provoking read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    Eye Opening and Heartfelt

    This book is beautifully written and touches on the wide variety of emotions a human can feel toward the very things they love, and how the very things they love can change a person's view on life completely. The honesty and raw emotions in Forgive Me leave the reader longing for more... both on the pages and in their own lives.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

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    an interesting morality drama

    Thirtyish international journalist Nadine travels the hot spots of the globe in pursut of the story. However, when she journeyed to a small village outside Mexico City to interview the parents of twelve recently murdered young boys, two thugs battered her breaking ribs and more. When Nadine regains consciousness she finds herself in the Cape Cod B&B owned by her estranged father and his fiancée. Dr. Duarte provides her needed medical care.----------------- Nadine feels this is the last place she wants to be while healing. She reads in the paper an article on a local couple traveling to Cape Town, South Africa to attend the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. The pair needs to hear why a black woman killed their white son in 1988. Nadine feels a deep need to cover the story so without official backing, she flies to Cape Town, a place where she lost the love of her life. She meets grieving Americans who give her their late son¿s boyhood journal.------------------ FORGIVE ME is an interesting morality drama starring an interesting protagonist who believes the story comes before her safety although her Mexican incident has left her with doubts. The tale cleverly uses the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings to spotlight Apartheid, but could have been any prejudicial ism especially state sponsored. The journal that the parents give Nadine leads to her reflecting back on her failed relationships with her father and her soulmate. Although some spins feel forced and false, fans will appreciate Amanda Eyre Ward¿s deep look at motivation of individuals and countries.--------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2008

    A reviewer

    Nadine Morgan is a woman who can't pass up a fresh, vital new story! Her best friend, Lilly, tells her she's just running away, escaping from fear of eventually settling down. Even after Nadine is seriously injuried while covering a story in Mexico, she still feels the compulsive call of another story. For Nadine is very, very good at what she does and right now she's got a choice to make. Will she return to South Africa where Bishop Desmond Tutu's amesty trials, better known as the Truth and Reconciliation Committee hearings, are in full swing? Will she remain with Harold, the first man she could possibly see herself marrying, having children, in all settling down with? There's one particular story that's demanding her attention, the story of an American boy, Jason, who was murdered in broad daylight during a riot of furious native Africans reacting after years of apartheid brutality. Contrived as it may seem, his parents share his journal spanning his teens and young adult years with Nadine. The combination of his aspirations and the questions, fears, dreams and violence she meets on her second arrival makes for riveting albeit predictable reading. The ending, however, will leave every reader shocked and silent with the essence of just what all this contemporary violence is really about. While there may not be so much unusual in the plot line, Amanda Eyre Ward does a superb job at plumbing the depths of fury, misunderstanding, forgiveness and shared grief! The result changes Nadine's life and choices forever! Unforgettable and all too real!!! Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on February 25, 2008

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

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    A REMARKABLE VOICE PERFORMANCE

    A remarkable voice performance by actress Ann Marie Lee make this compelling story even more memorable. Her voice, is young, plaint, innocent, which makes the assault on Nadine all the more terrible. She reads the account of the beating calmly, cooly, as the author's words aptly describe the horror Nadine experiences. Had she attempted to inject fear or pain into her narration, the effect on the listener would not have been as powerful. The mark of an experienced actress! Lee has also mastered the pronunciation of Spanish names and places, adding to the story's authenticity. With an apartment in the Associated Press compound in Mexico City, which she hasn't seen in a month, Nadine is in pursuit of another story. After consulting her topographic map she drives toward a small village. She is alone, and has told no one where she is going. Stopping to ask directions she is confronted by a group of men who stare, hesitating only briefly before a tall man in a Cookie Monster T-shirt reaches into her car. In seconds the others are beating her, pounding her stomach, her rib cage. She is left to die in a ditch. It's understood that Nadine Morgan is tough, a hard nosed news hawk who will do anything, go anywhere for the all important story. Steeliness is accepted, but where is her sense? To drive into unknown terrain alone with no one knowing her whereabouts? Nonetheless, the next time she is aware she's home in Woods Hole being tended to by her father and his girlfriend. She has a brief relationship with the doctor who sees to her, but what is love compared to a big story? As the narrative switches back and forth in time and place, we hear that Nadine took her father to the Oyster Bar to tell him of her plan: 'So I've decided,' said Nadine. 'I'm going to Cape Town.' 'Cape Town?' 'I'll be freelancing, of course, but maybe it'll lead to a job with the AP, or the Times. People are fighting the pass laws, standing up to the government. Remember that kid from Nantucket? Jason Irving? He was killed outside Cape Town last month. Everything is changing in South Africa. There's so much to write about.' Jim sighed. 'That kid from Nantucket,' he said. 'Poor kid comes home in a coffin. This is your role model?' Nadine didn't find death in Cape Town - what she found was heartbreak. Her lover, Maxim, a successful photographer, was killed while at the site of a gun battle, and Jason Irving, an American teacher, was killed by a mob. Tragedy is all she discovered in Cape Town. Now, following Mexico it has been years since her first visit to Cape Town, and one of Jason's killers is scheduled for an amnesty hearing. Jason's parents are, understandably furious, and fly to Cape Town to battle for justice for their son. Nadine also returns to South Africa, hoping to interview the parents. However, she had not considered what her feelings might be for the mother of one of the killers. Amanda Eyre Ward is a crafty author - she doesn't answer questions but tells a disquieting story, leaving the listener to ponder the age old questions of forgiveness and redemption. - Gail Cooke

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    PONDERING THE QUESTION OF REDEMPTION AND FORGIVENESS

    Following on the heels of her highly successful novels How To Be Lost and Sleep Toward Heaven, Amanda Eyre Ward again explores timeless questions by tracing the journey of an unforgettable protagonist and placing her in contemporary settings. With an apartment in the Associated Press compound in Mexico City, which she hasn't seen in a month, Nadine Morgan is in pursuit of another story. After consulting her topographic map she drives toward a small village. She is alone, and has told no one where she is going. Stopping to ask directions she is confronted by a group of men who stare, hesitating only briefly before a tall man in a Cookie Monster T-shirt reaches into her car. In seconds the others are beating her, pounding her stomach, her rib cage. She is left to die in a ditch. It's understood that Nadine is tough, a hard nosed news hawk who will do anything, go anywhere for the all important story. Steeliness is accepted, but where is her sense? To drive into unknown terrain alone with no one knowing her whereabouts? Nonetheless, the next time she is fully aware she's at home in Woods Hole being tended to by her father and his girlfriend. She has a brief relationship with the doctor who sees to her, but what is love compared to a big story? As the narrative switches back and forth in time and place, we read that Nadine took her father to the Oyster Bar to tell him of her plan: 'So I've decided,' said Nadine. 'I'm going to Cape Town.' 'Cape Town?' 'I'll be freelancing, of course, but maybe it'll lead to a job with the AP, or the Times. People are fighting the pass laws, standing up to the government. Remember that kid from Nantucket? Jason Irving? He was killed outside Cape Town last month. Everything is changing in South Africa. There's so much to write about.' Jim sighed. 'That kid from Nantucket,' he said. 'Poor kid comes home in a coffin. This is your role model?' Nadine didn't find her death in Cape Town - what she found was heartbreak. Her lover, Maxim, a successful photographer, was killed while at the site of a gun battle, and Jason Irving, an American teacher, was killed by a young mob. Tragedy is all she discovered in Cape Town. Now, following Mexico it has been years since her first visit to Cape Town, and one of Jason's killers is scheduled for an amnesty hearing. Jason's parents are, understandably, furious, and fly to Cape Town to battle for justice for their son. Nadine also returns to South Africa, hoping to interview the parents. However, she had not considered what her feelings might be for the mother of one of the killers. Amanda Eyre Ward is a crafty author - she doesn't answer questions but tells a disquieting story, leaving it to the listener to ponder the age old questions of forgiveness and redemption. - Gail Cooke

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    Posted January 13, 2010

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    Posted January 17, 2009

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    Posted February 17, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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