Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Looking for Lost Time: Sweet Forgiveness a novel by Lori Nelson Spielman

Sweet Forgiveness is a good second novel by Lori Nelson Spielman. The 355 page novel is the story of Hannah Farr, a TV personality for 10 years in New Orleans, who is getting pressure from a station manager and her producer to buck up her ratings. Hannah has a firm base of viewers, but the unrelenting push for increased media revenue does not allow for complacency. Hannah has a few ideas to grow her audience and continue with her successful interview style to which she is accustomed. She is not too worried in the beginning of the push, but becomes increasingly concerned.

The never-married early 30’s attractive woman is more worried about her public dating relationship with the politically ambitious mayor of New Orleans and her dream of marrying the widower. Hannah reads an article about the book tour of an old nemesis from her private school days, an older girl who bullied her mercilessly in school. The attorney author, Fiona Knowles, has written a self-help book called, The Forgiveness Stones. The book is already popular, focusing on shame, guilt, and anger and an apparently simple method of getting rid of these negative emotions via forgiveness rituals.

Hannah feels pushed to invite Fiona to be a guest on her show and demonstrate by personal example the value of forgiveness. The story develops with many interesting characters becoming involved in dredging up old social/family wounds and using Forgiveness Stones to reach resolution and redemption. The settings vary from New Orleans to Chicago to upper Michigan as Hannah discovers that redemption is almost always a two sided street involving forgiveness and apology.

The writing in this novel is very interesting to me because it helped me to see the importance of editing of an author’s work. In the Acknowledgements section at the end of her book, Lori mentions her “extraordinary” editor, Denise Roy. Although she does not provide details, I appreciated the not seamless but rather perfectly stitched seams that structure the novel. Short and long sections of chapters of Sweet Forgiveness are presented in a professional way that engage the reader without any breaks in interest in the story from start to finish. I had little identification with Hannah and the other characters in Chapter 1, but became emotionally attached to them reading page after page with no boring down time sections.

I highly recommend Sweet Forgiveness as an entertaining and interesting novel that is very well written and edited. I may have to forgive a few people (including myself) as a result of reading the book.

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