Forgive Me: A Novel by Amanda Eyre WardForgive Me: A Novel by Amanda Eyre Ward

Forgive Me: A Novel

byAmanda Eyre Ward

Paperback | January 29, 2008

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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.
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.
Title:Forgive Me: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 7.92 × 5.17 × 0.59 inPublished:January 29, 2008Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345494474

ISBN - 13:9780345494474

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from beautiful Beautifuly written I finished it in just under two hours not wanting to put it down. A book that was written to be discussed. This story stays with you long after you close the cover. There were two different story lines happening at once and at first I wasn't a big fan but then they blended together nicely and I couldn't have imagined this book any other way. Very good read very sad. This is a book that will be talked about for a while. Check it out.
Date published: 2018-01-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Forgive me? Forgive you if you don't read this!! During this latest snow-day I read this book cover to cover. It was just amazing. Though I have never travelled the world like Nadine I could completely relate to her. A must read...a fantastic choice for a book club!
Date published: 2008-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing story you won't soon forget I've come to believe everyone wants to learn something larger about the world while being entertained and engrossed in a work of fiction. Great writers manage to do both under the radar. And Ward's latest novel, Forgive Me, succeeds on this level. Her fine story of an ambitious female journalist driven by the details and stories of other's lives leads her to an exploration of her own life. Set against intertwining back drops of Cape Town, South Africa and Cape Cod, MA, Ward draws parallels between the citizens, and particularly mothers, of both countries and in doing so, imparts a story of how apartheid impacted families in each. In the end, one wants to learn more about the true events that inpsired Ward's novel. Bravo!
Date published: 2007-10-05

Read from the Book

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.

Bookclub 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?