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By Brian on 05-13-11
Machart misses, but not for lack of trying
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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