Length Of Time In Possession : 18 months
What first struck me when I started reading Absolution was the identical nature of the basics of the story to Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale which I have just read. Successful elderly writer Clare Wald, summons young journalist Sam Leroux to her home with the intent of allowing him to be her biographer, and their conversations illuminate her back story. There the similarity ends because whilst The Thirteenth Tale is shrouded in a kind of Gothic old fashioned mystique, the mysteries of Absolution are of a starker, bleaker variety.
Set in modern day South Africa the events of the novel are placed against the backdrop of the fairly recent political upheavals of that nation, the findings of the Truth And Reconciliation Commission for example are referenced often. The novel is constructed in an odd way, and at times this made it difficult to read. Split into three sections it at times has sections from Clare's perspective and then Sam's interspersed with excerpts from Clare's final novel, a 'faction' named 'Absolution'.
Clare did not choose Sam for the task for no apparent reason Sam & Clare have a link, a link neither is able to discuss, and as Sam's narrative contradicts what Clare sets forth in 'Absolution' it becomes harder to know what really happened, and in some respects this is the point of 'Absolution' how, when in absence of the facts, we make up fictions in our minds of events we know to have happened but do not know the detail.
Another strand of Absolution revolves around guilt and responsibility, how responsible is a person when a remark they make sets forth a chain of events they didn't foresee culminating in disaster.
The problem with 'Absolution' as a novel and what makes it become hard work as a read is that these points about history and responsibility become laboured and the making of them ultimately occurs at the cost of the narrative : the plot becomes damaged and skewed by the authors apparent need to make them. A lengthy diatribe about censorship for example is just entirely out of step with the rest of the plot.
By far the most interesting aspect of 'Absolution' is the fate of Laura, a fate that is ultimately left hanging in mid air, with the onus on the reader to infer what they can.
All in all the novel is something of a mixed bag that does not entirely flow together very well despite containing excellent ideas.
Destination : ebook storage