Synopses & Reviews
From one of our most critically acclaimed authors comes a masterly story of terrorism and revenge and one mans attempts to extricate himself from his past.
Thomas Railles, an American expatriate and former odd-jobber for the CIA, is a respected painter living with his beloved wife, Florette, in the south of France. On an ordinary autumn day, Florette goes for a walk in the hills and is killed by unknown assailants. Her death devastates Thomas, and in the weeks and months that follow he struggles to make sense of a world that seems defined by violence and pain.
Each night Thomas tracks the war in Iraq on the evening news while Florette's killers remain at large. When French officials detain four Moroccan terrorists and charge them with Florette's murder, Thomas is invited to witness the interrogation. The experience completely undoes him, changing his world utterly, and he finds himself unable to remain at a distance from America, the country he left so long ago.
Ward Just's most gripping and insightful novel yet, Forgetfulness is a haunting depiction of the corrosive effects of todays war on terror and its unexpected consequences for the individual conscience.
"Just has long observed the fault lines in human nature and a person's moral code. In his 15th novel (after the 2005 Pulitzer finalist, An Unfinished Season), Just, using an unlikely hero, sets his journalist's eye on the ethically fraught war on terror. Thomas Railles is a 65-year-old American expatriate portrait painter of moderate fame who lives with his French wife, Florette, in a Pyrenees village. When Florette goes for a solitary walk in the mountains and is killed by Moroccan terrorists, Railles blames himself for her death: two of his childhood friends now work in intelligence, and he has pulled several 'odd jobs' for them over the years, including one that may have inspired this belated 'payback.' When he eventually faces one of Florette's killers, Railles must decide whether to avenge her death or find a different peace of mind. 'Forgetfulness is the old man's friend,' he muses, but he is aware of the irony. The ethical questions of Just's tale add moral heft to an emotionally charged narrative. Author tour. (Sept. 6)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] riveting examination of personal loss and political criminality...Just's Forgetfulness is haunting, clarifying, and imperative." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Superb as suspense, as theater, as psychological warfare...[Just] is as seductive a raconteur as ever." Kirkus Reviews
"A heartbreaking tale that is as contemporary as today's newspaper headlines and as timeless as the most profound classic tragedy." BookPage
"Many of our best writers...are grappling with 9/11 and its fall-out; Just's take may be the best yet. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly
"Forgetfulness would have made a better novella....[T]he novel sags under too many digressions....[W]ell written, thoughtful, but without the moral urgency that fired the heart of the book." Christian Science Monitor
"Forgetfulness is a good, complicated story extremely well told....Just was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his last book....Forgetfulness is a reminder of just how good he is." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Forgetfulness is a rich, complex book...Just's writing zips along, marred only occasionally by some didactic dialogue when he struggles to make his points. We need more novels like this..." Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Ward Just's thrillers are so subtle that they risk sounding dull, as though he's engaged in a battle against excess and bombast. The movement in his stories is slight, but the forces at work are tremendous. That muted power has never been more unsettling than in his new novel....Just makes no easy declarations in this often arduously analytical novel." Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post Book World review
Just's most gripping, insightful, and nuanced novel yet will haunt its readers and show the corrosive effects of today's war and its unexpected consequences for the individual conscience.
Thomas Railles, an American expatriate and former odd-jobber” for the CIA, is a successful painter living with his beloved wife, Florette, in a small village in the Pyrenees. On an ordinary autumn day, Florette goes for a walk in the hills and is killed by unknown assailants. Was her death simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or was it somehow connected to Thomass work with the CIA? When French officials detain four Moroccan terrorists and charge them with Florettes murder, Thomas is invited by his boyhood friend (and former agency handler) Bernhard to witness the interrogation. Thomas's search for answers in this shadow world will lead him to a confrontation that will change him forever.
About the Author
Ward Just is the author of fourteen previous novels, including the National book Award finalist Echo House and An Unfinished Season, winner of the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award. In a career that began as a war correspondent for Newsweek and the Washington Post, Just has lived and written in half a dozen countries, including Britain, France, and Vietnam. His characters often lead public lives as politicians, civil servants, soldiers, artists, and writers. It is the tension between public duty and private conscience that animates much of his fiction, including Forgetfulness. Just and his wife, Sarah Catchpole, divide their time between Marthas Vineyard and Paris.