The Forgiven

The Forgiven

A Novel

Book - 2012
Average Rating:
8
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In this stylish, haunting novel, journalist and novelist Lawrence Osborne explores the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors who converge on a luxurious desert villa for a decadent weekend-long party. 
 
David and Jo Henniger, a doctor and children's book author, in search of an escape from their less than happy lives in London, accept the invitation of their old friends Richard and Dally to attend their annual bacchanal at their home deep in the Moroccan desert - a ksar they have acquired and renovated into a luxurious retreat.  On the way, the Hennigers stop for lunch, and the bad-tempered David can't resist consuming most of a bottle of wine.  Back on the road, darkness has descended, David is groggy, and the directions to the ksar are vague.  Suddenly, two young men spring from the roadside, apparently attempting to interest passing drivers in the fossils they have for sale.  Panicked, David swerves toward the two, leaving one dead on the road and the other running into the hills.
 
At the ksar , the festivities have begun: Richard and Dally's international friends sit down to a lavish dinner prepared and served by a large staff of Moroccans.  As the night progresses and the debauchery escalates, the Moroccans increasingly view the revelers as the godless "infidels" they are.  When David and Jo show up late with the dead body of the young man in their car, word spreads among the locals that David has committed an unforgivable act.
 
Thus the stage is set for a weekend during which David and Jo must come to terms with David's misdeed, Jo's longings, and their own deteriorating relationship, and the flamboyant Richard and Dally must attempt to keep their revelers entertained despite growing tension from their staff and the Moroccan Berber father who comes to claim his son's body.
 
With spare, evocative prose, searing eroticism, and a gift for the unexpected, Osborne memorably portrays the privileged guests wrestling with their secrets amidst the remoteness and beauty of the desert landscape.  He also gradually reveals the jolting back-story of the young man who was killed and leaves David's fate in the balance as the novel builds to a shattering conclusion.

Publisher: New York, NY : Hogarth, [2012]
Copyright Date: ©2012
ISBN: 9780307889034
Branch Call Number: OSB
Characteristics: 272 pages ; 22 cm

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AL_LESLEY Nov 10, 2016

This book is filled with rather vivid characters of questionable morality that you don't even love to hate but rather just dislike altogether. Stark contrasts between rich and poor. An interesting portrayal of Morocco which I assume is true to life from a sometime travel writer. I was constantly surprised by the lowering depravity of those around the main couple while the most depraved and hateful of all the characters actually gains something from his ordeal but something which ultimately leads to his destruction. It was a dark and interesting tale.

r
rjamesevans
Oct 19, 2015

Great read. how I could relate to the characters , who were so unlike myself, is a mystery. Yet I did

e
empbee
Oct 13, 2015

A very good, well written book. It gives you insight into berber life in Morocco through detailed description. Mystery like story line with moral issues.

u
uncommonreader
Jan 22, 2015

This is a compelling tale set in the Moroccan desert at a decadent party, which the Moroccans look upon with disdain and perhaps some envy. It contrasts the world of the very rich and the very poor. One is conscious that it is written from a male perspective. All in all, a very good and interesting read.

m
macierules
Feb 26, 2014

good tension - loved the Moroccan setting.

g
gwilsonsd
Jul 14, 2013

I'm surprised I liked it as much as I did. The descriptions of the desert and the local people were captivating. I *did* care what happened to the characters, and wanted to know how it was all going to be resolved. I felt like I understood everyone and their motives. Lots of complex feelings. Lots of great description but in a masculine way, not annoyingly feminine like so many novels can be. Definitely worth picking up.

t
TracyGuza
Jun 08, 2013

The Forgiven is a lush novel filled with vivid description of both characters and setting. This novel deftly intertwines issues of race and class, marital troubles, alcoholism, opulence and poverty, cultural divisions - all spurred on by an unexpected accident.

j
JLMason
Jan 06, 2013

This book was on The Economist's top books for 2012.
I don't know how to rate this book. It's very well written. It's unsettling and uncomfortable. It's sensuous and decadent. It unfolds with an impending sense of doom. But all of the characters are unlikeable; I couldn't empathize with them. Which is why I decided not to finish the book: I just didn't care about what happened to them. They were the masters of their own undoing.

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