This accomplished debut novel from Bruce Machart has drawn critical raves. In 1895 Texas, Karel Skala enters the world while his mother dies in childbirth. Fifteen years later, guilt-stricken Karel puts his family’s fortunes on the line in a horse race against a powerful Spanish patriarch.
©2010 Bruce Machart (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
“Machart’s moving story unfolds lyrically and sensually, with little fanfare, as his thoughtful prose propels a character-driven story about family, morality, and redemption.” (Publishers Weekly)
The Wake of Forgiveness is not a horrible book and it's audio presentation is fine, but I don't recommend it. Machart does a fair job of providing creative prose and witty dialogue, I only wish he had put more effort into the story itself.
For roughly 7/8ths of the book the listener is presented with almost completely irredeemable characters who are uniform in their distastefulness. Then, in the final pages, an attempt is made to turn it all around, but by that point, who is interested in viewing these creatures as the "good guys"? The story drags on painfully while bouncing back and forth through the history of the denizens of Levaca County, Texas. Nothing much happens on the road to the discovery of the novel's mysteries, which are about as mysterious as an episode of Gunsmoke.
There were two specific scenes, one involving a photograph of the Scala boys' mother, and another at the very end where a wet nurse is brought to care for a newborn, that were both interesting, emotional, and well written. Beyond that, this was a chore to finish. If you are a fan of well-written historical fiction in the setting of the turn of the 19th century American West, look to Charles Frazier or Cormac McCarthy.
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