This is one of the best books I've read this year.
Okay, now for the review!
Within the span of a weekend (and beyond), author Cherise Wolas has weaved a story that will make you have a conversation with yourself when you finish it. And then you'll want to discuss the book with your friends, even when they haven't read the book (I did that with my very patient boyfriend). The question is this: what does it truly mean to ask or wish for forgiveness? In The Family Tabor, the main character - Harry Tabor - is our representative for such a question as he attempts to answer it himself with his actions.
After many years of heading a very successful non profit organization called CST, Harry will soon be the recipient of the Man of the Decade award. His lovely wife Roma and his three adult children Phoebe, Camille, and Simon, will all be there to watch him receive such a bestowed honour. The children all live in different cities and are all successful in their own way - a product of being Harry and Roma Tabor's children. Harry wakes up the day of the award ceremony in a fantastic mood and enjoys a game of tennis with his friend . . . only to have it all come crashing down on him. Thanks to a vision, a very black moment in his past returns to his life, leaving Harry dumbfounded and more importantly, finally ready to do the right thing. In wanting forgiveness, the secret must come to life once more. In fact, as Harry must deal with his very horrible secret, we learn that everyone within the family has a secret to keep as well. As each person comes to grips with their secret, they also want forgiveness as a way of understanding just why they have their secret.
This book gripped me from beginning to end and when I finished it, I read the final pages just to make sure I understood what happened. I read for so long that I forgot to turn on my lights when day gave way to night outside. I sat on my couch and didn't move for 2-3 hours because I had to know. I had to know if Harry succeeded in his quest for forgiveness; if Phoebe would ever tell the horrible (and somewhat pathetic) truth of her so-called perfect life. Would Camille finally ask forgiveness of her real self, and would Simon finally ask for forgiveness of his religion? Would Roma, the absolute glue of the family, reveal what everyone else wanted to keep behind closed doors? Yes, I thought way too hard about this book.
Wolas' writing reminds me of Woody Allen films - these people live in a completely different world than the rest of us that is still part of this world. Yes, they have problems and issues like the rest of us, yet they make their tragedy so damn glorious. As I read The Family Tabor, I kept wishing I could actually meet Camille and have tea with her because out of all of the characters, she reminded me of myself and several of my friends. These characters demand more from themselves in all aspects of their lives and it shows from their job choices to how they spend their free time, to even what books they will read. Wolas' writing reminds me of the books of Ian McEwan (love his work), Claire Messud, and C. Morgan Babst - tragedy never looked so beautiful and intellectual.
Much thanks, Cherise - I will say that I did not expect the ending and yet it was the only way to end the novel.