The Forgiven

Lawrence Osborne

The Forgiven

For the sake of fun and friendship, and a few days under a fiercer sun, David and Jo Henniger accept the invitation to attend the annual bacchanal of old acquaintances at their home in the Moroccan desert. On the road, darkness has descended, directions are vague and the couple begin to argue. When two young fossil sellers suddenly appear from the side of the road, hawking their wares, David - inebriated and irritable - fails to stop the car as it collides with one of the young men. Meanwhile, festivities at the house are in full flow. Under the watchful eyes of their Moroccan staff, the extravagant hosts attend to the whims of their glittering, insatiable guests as the party rages on into a new day. The stage is set for a weekend in which David and Jo must come to terms with their fateful act and its shattering consequences. 4.2 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
The Forgiven

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 320
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-1781090107
Publisher Hogarth
 

For the sake of fun and friendship, and a few days under a fiercer sun, David and Jo Henniger accept the invitation to attend the annual bacchanal of old acquaintances at their home in the Moroccan desert. On the road, darkness has descended, directions are vague and the couple begin to argue. When two young fossil sellers suddenly appear from the side of the road, hawking their wares, David - inebriated and irritable - fails to stop the car as it collides with one of the young men. Meanwhile, festivities at the house are in full flow. Under the watchful eyes of their Moroccan staff, the extravagant hosts attend to the whims of their glittering, insatiable guests as the party rages on into a new day. The stage is set for a weekend in which David and Jo must come to terms with their fateful act and its shattering consequences.

Reviews

The Literary Review

Adrian Turpin

Osborne - unsurprisingly for someone who has made a career as a travel and food writer - delights in both the physicality of this excess and its Eurotrashy absurdity. Even at its most austere, The Forgiven often has a twinkle. Take this essentially comic but horrific description of Jo, just hours after the accident: 'There was a look of terror on Jo's face. It had suddenly dawned on her that this was a very elegant party and she didn't know anyone there.' A number of people have compared Osborne to Evelyn Waugh: this is the Waugh of A Handful of Dust, who understands how flimsy the veneer of civilisation can be.

01/04/2013

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The Daily Mail

Victoria Moor

Osborne writes mercilessly, savagely well. He excavates his characters, and the centuries-long cultural rift between the desert people and the Western infidels with a pathologist’s precision, wrapping fear, boredom, forgiveness, judgment, honour and sexual attraction into a novel that plunges with sinister pace towards its denouement.

11/04/2013

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The New York Times

Dwight Garner

The book’s most vivid character is its most hateful one. This would be David, a curmudgeonly British doctor — to judge by the author’s descriptions, he physically resembles the late art critic Robert Hughes — who is drunk behind the wheel when he runs over the young man. He finds most Moroccans primitive and irrational; he calls them “towel-heads.” About rural Morocco, he thinks: “It was a zone of barbarism, of prehistory. It was a desolate comedy with child labor.” To Mr. Osborne’s credit, David does not sink entirely into caricature. This book has complicated subsets of sympathies that extend even to him. One of the author’s real achievements is how many heads he manages to climb into.

25/09/2013

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The Sunday Times

Robert Collins

One of the most appealing aspects of Osborne’s novel is the way in which, from this gripping starting point, he begins to wrongfoot the reader. He introduces, for instance, not only Abdellah’s narrated point of view, but that of the dead man, Driss, revealing the circumstances that led to his being on the roadside where he was knocked over. At Richard’s house party, meanwhile, the atmosphere of febrile over-indulgence seems to forebode some possible coming calamity. The Moroccan staff are growing mutinous over the dead local being stored in Richard’s air-conditioned garage. Is this houseful of spoilt Europeans going to be slaughtered by the hired help?

21/04/2013

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