The Wake of Forgiveness

Bruce Machart, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-15-101443-9
Machart's bleak, accomplished debut opens in 1895 as a landowning Texas family faces both sides of life's spectrum: the birth of a fourth son and the death of the boy's mother during childbirth. This event resonates throughout the lives of Vaclav Skala, who lost "the only woman he'd ever been fond of," and his four sons who, 15 years later, find their youngest sibling, Karel, to be a preternaturally talented equestrian. While Vaclav's wagers on his son's races increase, so does Karel's confidence, especially when facing off against the talk of the town: Guillermo VillaseƱor, a powerful, moneyed, patronizing patriarch with three beautiful daughters. Yet Karel remains haunted by the memory of his mother, often feeling "the flat cool of her absence," and a prideful father who keeps him at arm's length. The consequences of a race that has his father's land hanging in the balance play out some 14 years later when, in 1924, Karel is married with children, yet still finds himself straying and facing inter-familial discord. 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. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 06/28/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Hardcover - 511 pages - 978-1-4104-3524-8
Paperback - 309 pages - 978-0-547-52194-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-547-50442-1
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