|Published 23 May Corsair|
In A Thousand Pardons, Jonathan Dee gets into the very heart and soul of marital discord and with great skill he manipulates a story of how two ordinary people cope with devastating matrimonial disharmony.
Ben and Helen Armstead appear to have everything that middle class America can offer and yet all it takes is one afternoon of recklessness and the whole thing falls apart. Ben, a successful lawyer commits professional suicide in an unprecedented act of foolishness, forcing Helen into making some difficult lifestyle decisions. Whilst Ben and Helen stumble around in improbable situations, caught in the middle is their adopted teenage daughter Sara, who is an unpleasant child, but given the emotional upheaval in her life, it's not difficult to imagine why she is so troubled.
However good the narrative is, and believe me, there are moments of sheer brilliance, there are also times when I had to suspend belief, specifically the implausibility of Helen’s meteoric rise to success in the competitive world of damage limitation, and the inclusion into the story of a debauched Hollywood movie star, whose tenuous link to Helen’s past was rather bizarre. And yet, despite the moral righteousness of the story, I found I empathized more with Ben, whose very personal disintegration was handled with sensitivity and compassion.
Whilst A Thousand Pardons is a very modern story about the breakdown of a marriage, it is also the story of the minutiae of daily life and the seemingly mindless boredom which all too easily invades hopes and dreams.
My thanks to the Lovereading Review Panel for my review copy of A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee