A Thousand Pardons

A Thousand Pardons

by Jonathan Dee
3.4 16

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Overview

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS

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 Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara.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.

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

Praise for A Thousand Pardons
 
A Thousand Pardons is that rare thing: a genuine literary thriller. Eerily suspenseful and packed with dramatic event, it also offers a trenchant, hilarious portrait of our collective longing for authenticity in these overmediated times.”—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

“Hugely enjoyable . . . Dee is a snappy, cinematic writer. . . . A Thousand Pardons moves fast. It’s a mere 200 or so pages, and it packs a lot of turns of fate within there.”The Boston Globe
 
“Dee’s gifts are often dazzling and his material meticulously shaped. . . . [He] articulates complex emotional dynamics with precision and insight.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Some stories begin with a bang. And some begin with a roaring fireball of truth. Jonathan Dee’s latest novel belongs in the latter camp.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“Dee bounds gracefully among Helen’s, Ben’s, and Sara’s points of view as they try to reassemble their lives. Their stories feel honest, and the prose is beautiful.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“A page turner . . . What a triumph.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Graceful prose and such a sharp understanding of human weakness that you’ll wince as you laugh.”—People
 
“Propulsively readable.”—The Millions
 
“Dee continues to establish himself as an ironic observer of contemporary behavior. . . . The plot is energetic. . . . But most compelling is the acuteness of the details.”—The Atlantic

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812983388
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/06/2013
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 529,864
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Dee is the author of five previous novels, most recently The Privileges, which was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2011 Prix Fitzgerald and the St. Francis College Literary Prize. He is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a National Magazine Award–nominated literary critic for Harper’s, a former senior editor of The Paris Review, and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

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A Thousand Pardons: A Novel 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Dee writes so well, and he's a mighty good storyteller. You will get caught up in the story from the first chapter. The following one focusing on Helen is even better. Dee writes characters well, both men and women, but especially women. His dialogue is natural, enviably tight and almost always unexpected. What struck me days after finishing the book is that, for a story about wrongdoings and the possibility of forgiveness, there are no VICTIMS. How refeshing is that in a world that often seems filled with only victims--even the criminals are pitched as victims. To read the book is to be awestruck by the artistry of the writing and to naturally want more. Enjoy!
lucieparis2011 More than 1 year ago
A beautiful picture of contemporary society Very nice work on the skids of life, forgiveness, appearances and the art of public relations. It all starts with Ben, a lawyer, who tries to spice up his boring life by lusting after a trainee. In an instant, everything change. After a few law pursuits, he finds himself without a job, without family and money. He is required to reflect on his actions and the mess in which he put himself. Helen, Ben's wife, is an innocent accomplice of the collapse of her husband. By closing her eyes and accepting his excuses, she left her marriage to waste away. Privileged housewife for years, the scandal and the need for money forced her to give a new meaning to her life. Looking for a job in New York, a fluke sent her into the world of PR. In a society accustomed to lying as if it was breathing, soon the confessions and penances withdrawn from her customers made the buzz. Through this couple and the various characters you came accross, the author tells simple stories of dissatisfaction, acceptance of a monotonous routine without daring to make some changes.  The private jail you put yourself into, caused by the lies told to people that are watered by our beliefs, are easy to forget with alcohol. But sometimes, honesty and sincerity can relieve yourself from deeper troubles than a bottle of Jack Daniels. Then, there are the stories related to Sara. An adopted teenager who is undergoing many changes as she tries to find her own place in life. The coldness of her relationship with Helen shows the complexity of mother-daughter relationships and the difficulty to meet the expectations and desires of all members of the same family. A beautiful picture of contemporary society portrayed through the events that shook a bourgeois family. A heavy emphasis on the world of PR and image that you want to show off. A nice read with characters who make mistakes, but still go forward. Lucie newbooksonmyselves.blogspot.fr
bucmjt More than 1 year ago
A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee is a good book. The story line is well thought out and executed, even the many side stories. The characters are flawless and compelling. The supporting characters beg to tell their own stories. A really wonderful piece of work, until the ending. I just wanted so much more...so many more questions.
BlueEyeBooks More than 1 year ago
A Thousand Pardons is about a family of three. A mom, dad, and daughter. The dad isn't satisfied with his life and commits a crime, goes to jail, the whole bit. The mother and daughter move, but their lives grow further and further apart. This book is their story and how they got through a trying time in their lives. Overall, this was a really good book but it wasn't amazing. There was only one thing I had a problem with: the ending. I really hate cliffhangers or those endings where the author really doesn't give you anything to go on in terms of imagining the rest of the characters lives. I don't want to have any spoilers in this review so I'll just say this: the ending resolved a few questions but it doesn't resolve the bigger ones. That said, the book was really good. I read this because I saw it in the nominations for the Goodreads book of the year (or whatever category it was in). It's a good life book with some drama but it doesn't really have too much action or resolution in it. It was a nice calming book, however, and somehow that kept me reading. I read this in two days. It's fairly short. Four stars for this book - excellently written but lacking in the whole resolution thing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully defined characters in realistic situations.  Dee is a gifted writer who draws you into the story with his ability to make situations real and true.  Excellent!
Cindy573 More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was some what slow in the beginning. Easy reading and great for a weekend or at the beach. The story line was very predictable and I was hoping for a little more of a twist. But all in all I would recommend the book to friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story written w unrelated tangents. Not a good flow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book went nowhere. Too many story lines started and never seen through to fruition. The characters were shallowly written and neither lovable nor hateable. I am shocked that this is considered a page turner by so many when, in my opinion, there wasn't an ounce of suspense in one of the measley 206 pages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. The story kept me interested, and it was hard to put down. Great for the summer!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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lsmeadows More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable book with an interesting premise.  Would really give it 3.5 stars Although I would not class A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee as one of the best books I have read, I did enjoy it. The problem is, I can't quite decide what it is about the book that drew me in. The item in the book that sets the story in motion is a glaringly bad decision made by Ben Armstead, a middle aged lawyer in the midst of a mid life crisis. When Ben decides to have a fling with a summer intern in his office, not only does his whole life start to unravel, but so do the lives of his wife, Helen, and daughter, Sarah. Dee spends the rest of the book detailing how these three characters work to get their lives back on track.  Eventually Helen becomes aware that she is going to have to go to work, and surprisingly, lands a job at a one-man PR firm in Manhattan. It is in the pursuit of doing her job that Helen comes into her own, counseling clients that a sincere apology can do a lot more for your image than trying to hide from the truth will. I have to admit, I found this idea of taking responsibility for your actions and living up to your commitments refreshing. It is probably the best thing about this book, and something that I feel is sorely lacking in large portions of our current society. The more respect and success that Helen garnered by promoting this idea, the more I liked the book. I also liked the contrast that the author presented during the one crisis when Helen deviates from this approach. It is the inclusion of this crisis and what it highlights about business as usual in today's society that really made the book for me.  Another plus was the straightforward method of telling the story that the author used. This is not a complex and twisted story of what motivates people and drives them to make the choices that they make. If it were, I may have given it 5 stars. As it is, I enjoyed the straightforward method that he used in telling his story, and again, found it refreshing.  The characters in the book were certainly not it's strongest draw. I can only think of one character who did not come across as mostly weak and ineffectual. That character was Helen's first boss and he did not have a very large role in the book. That is not to say that the other characters did not have short moments of brilliance, but they were just too few and far between for me. They were, though, somewhat redeeming and the things that kept me reading.  In the published description of the book the overlying theme of the book is stated as "what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?" I felt it was more along the line of, "what are we really looking for when we realize that we have made a mistake?", but all in all, I felt the question raised was worth exploring and that Jonathan Dee did a reasonable, although not exceptional, job of exploring it.  As such, I am giving the book 3 stars, but it is probably more like a 3.5 star book.   I would like to thank both Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.