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The Forgiven

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,217 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
In this stylish, haunting novel, journalist and novelist Lawrence Osborne explores the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors who converge on a luxurious desert villa for a decadent weekend-long party. 
David and Jo Henniger, a doctor and children's book author, in search of an escape from their less than happy lives in L
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Hogarth (first published 2012)
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Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, reviewed, ebook, 2016

… life is but a sport and a pastime, as the Koran carefully reminds us, and because it is a game and nothing more, one forgets that the point of life is death .

David and Jo, a bit bored with life and themselves marriage, accept an invitation to attend an annual fiesta in the middle of Moroccan desert. Their hosts are well-to-do gay couple Richard and Dally and party in their residence reminds rather insatiable orgy than tea on the Sahara. On their way to desert estate married couple is quarreli
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing

Beautifully written, shattering prose that makes Western (in)sensibilities crumble in the harsh desert sun of northern Africa. I want to pen so much more about why this novel is superlatively fantabulous, but I'll unwittingly spoil things without Spoiler tags.

The only future worth entertaining is the one we can’t imagine at all.

Forgive me, please, and read this wondrous novel about how we all go about [un]Forgiven.
Tension squeezes the heart from the moment the book opens. A man and a woman, married, arrive in Tangier from Europe on a ferry. They are tired, and it is hot.

The couple is meant to be driving deep into the desert to participate in an annual feast put on by another European couple. The wife had thought she might want to stay until the next day, but the husband insists on going that night. The city is dirty, hot, disorienting. They rent a car and begin the drive but they are tired, and the crank
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ein vermögendes, schwules Paar lädt zur Party in ihr renoviertes, üppig dekoriertes Ksar, einer marokkanischen Siedlung. Amerikaner, Engländer und Franzosen schwelgen in Verschwendung, Suff, Drogen und sexuellen Eskapaden. Rings um sie marokkanische Diener, die finanziell von dem Paar profitieren und gleichzeitig angeekelt sind. Außerhalb der Mauern des Ksar ist alles fremd: die Landschaft, die Menschen unterschiedlicher Stämme, die sich gegenseitig verachten, ihre Armut, ihre religiöse Intolera ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
What drew me to this book was the setting. It takes place in an unglamorous part of Morocco that many tourists would never see. Lawrence Osbourne has lived the expat life in Morocco, and he seems to grasp the mindset of the Moroccan Berber people and how they view the ridiculous excesses of wealthy foreigners who come to their country. Osbourne also shows an understanding of the economic dilemma facing the poorest Moroccans who must rely on tourists for their livelihood. Many of them go to Franc ...more
Nic Penrake
Jul 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In a word, outstanding. Best novel I've read in a long time. The prose is utterly seductive. Within a few pages I was straight back in Morocco, which I only know from one visit, but there I was, seeing and smelling it all so vividly. I love the blend of impartiability and compassion, the despair and dogged hope, the quiet English irony of the travelled writer. Although he's English, he osborne has more in common for me with American writers like McInerney - very sensuous, never fidgety the way s ...more
Lisa B.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
My Thoughts

This was very good. Not fast paced, but a slow simmering suspense. I’m going to share one extra tidbit to make this even more enticing. The father of the young man that David struck and killed shows up at the ksar. He wants David, and ONLY David to come back to their village to attend his son’s burial and as such, atone for what he did.

Oh really? A bereaved Muslim father wants an unbeliever, an infidel, to come alone to their distant village. What happens to David? And in David’s abse
Jason Pettus
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this review, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Now that I'm finished with it, I find myself having a hard time deciding what exactly to think of critical darling and "professional nomad" Lawrence Osborne's latest novel, the engaging but also meandering The Forgiven. Because on the one hand, its Graham-Greene-meets-the-Tea-Party setting is going to be
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Cheryl by: Proustitute
”…one forgets that the point of life is death.”
The story seemingly describes a culture clash, between traditional Moroccan Muslims trying to scratch out a living and affluent Westerners who have too much of a living. But it could equally have been set in a vast country estate of the wealthy in 19th-century Britain, pitting the lords against the peasants.
Or in the crowded streets of New York….I just realized what this story has in common with The Bonfire of the Vanities: a car driven by a rich p
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
if you know osbonrne's writings The Accidental Connoisseur: An Irreverent Journey Through the Wine World you'll know, and expect, full-on sensuality and food/wine porn of the most yummy sort, and this novel brings you all that, plus too, evocation of place that is both "factual seeming" and seductive, even when it is 120 degrees in the shade and flies are biting. so, Morocco, 21st century, a 1%er's posh re-vamped (and air conditioned) hill top fort, fossil sellers out the ass, local boys as the ...more
Jim Coughenour
After a couple drinks, a bickering English couple set off from Tangier to a house party in the desert, driving at night, the road unfolding before them. This will not end well, I thought, and kept reading. Echoes of Paul Bowles and his clueless/arrogant Westerners of course, but also the acidulous observation of Edward St. Aubyn. I was more than halfway through the book before I realized how well it was written. The fine-grained point of view shifts constantly, between man and wife, between host ...more
Apr 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A party in the middle of the Moroccon desert, an automobile accident with a dreadful outcome, and the consequences of that accident........make a great story.

If you treasure J.M.Coetzee or Ian McEwan, you will be gripped by the powerful writing of Lawrence Osborne. I found myself drawn into the terrain, color, sounds, minds and attitudes in this faraway, alienating stretch of Morocco with its mixture of partying Westerners utterly removed from the reality of the native Saharans and the Saharans
Friederike Knabe
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maghreb-n-africa
... we have fossils and our children...laments the old fossil digger Abdellah,"...the desert is what we fish and the fossils are our fish....

He, like many others living along the slopes of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, eke out a meager living through digging, prepping and trading in fossils, nightmare life forms from another geological era. Lawrence Osborne, experienced world traveler and writer, is familiar with the Moroccan landscapes and the local traditions. His novel draws on his deep kn
Ronald Morton
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
I thought this book was going to be a western. There, I said it. Sure, it's the whole "Unforgiven" thing, but it's also that cover, which looks kind of western-y (because it looks like the picture is in the desert) as long as you don't notice the person on the left is wearing a cape. Had I noticed that, I would have thought the book was going to be a super hero western. I probably would have actually ended up disappointed in that instance.

This book is not a western, and while it is actually set
William Koon
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Forgiven, the lines from Samson Agonistes slam into your brain:
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total Eclipse
Without all hope of day!
For darkness among the light pervades The Forgiven in setting, plot, theme, and characterization.

Osborne asks the question of what is forgiveness amidst a slew of homosexuality, infidelity, champagnes and fresh peaches, Muslim fundamentalism, naked dancing, murder, and the rape of ancient monuments. He not only asks, but
Judith E
Nov 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fiction
On his way to a lush expat party, a reckless English motorist hits and kills a young Berber man deep in the Moroccan desert. The gritty sand, the incessant whistling wind, the bright sun, the omnipresent heat and the poverty is in direct contrast to the extravagant foods, entertainment and recreational drug use at the weekend party. Two cultures feel they are superior to the other resulting in mutual distrust and disrespect, but somehow come to an agreement as to how the Englishman should atone ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
I chose to read this book based on the books synopsis on Goodreads. It sounded alluring. What I found this book to be was the Great Gatsby set in Morrocco. Full of superficial wealthy characters who spend there days worrying about what they will eat next and what parties they will go smoke weed at or get drunk at next. I also felt the author gave way too much detail on insigniciant parts of the story. I cant say that he doesn't pay attention to detail, it was overkill though. Political commentar ...more
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-book
****4.5 Stars****
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
MOROCCO: "Piece by piece the camel enters the couscous"

Where to start with this sumptuously descriptive novel dripping with lusciousness and foreboding? The background setting of Morocco is an intrinsic character that fluently comes to life through Lawrence Osborne's writing. Whether it is the landscape, the characters, the ambient temperature, the fossils or the people - both local Moroccans and Westerners whose lifestyles and values pit themselves against each other - everything is bathed in
Galen Weitkamp
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
My son once brought home a project he made in grade school. It was a bottle half filled with water dyed deeply blue and the other half filled with transparent baby oil. The surface between the oil and water was continuous and smooth like a mathematical surface. Gently rocked from side to side, viscous blue waves slowly rolled across an imaginary surf. Shaken, the interface became a frothy fractal of bubbles ranging from the visible down to the microscopic.

Having just read Lawrence Osborne’s The
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: morocco
Someone else said about this book "I wanted to like it more than I did." My sentiments exactly. I've been to Morocco, I've read other books about Morocco and am interested in the country, the people, the impact of foreigners - both historically and presently. But - though the story was dramatic, as was the action - it seemed overwritten, too much effort to make it intense. Why do dinosaurs have red eyes? Do they - in a description of scenery, events that have nothing to do with dinosaurs. Some o ...more
Nathan Oates
Jan 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Everything seemed aligned for my enjoyment: a story about travel in Morocco, lush, elegant writing that explores the problematic consciousnesses, not just of the Americans and British expats, but of the local people who are trapped in poverty and frustration. But there was something that made the book slow and even laborious so that I never really wanted to return to it. I'm not exactly sure what that was (perhaps it was my own impatience), but I think ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Barreling along a Morrocan road enroute to an extravagant weekend party thrown by rich friends, a somewhat boozy, bickering middle-aged British couple are involved in a fatal accident that won’t easily be resolved, no matter how sorry everyone is. The death of a local Muslim boy fuels cultural misunderstanding and mistrust. Atonement must be made. So richly atmospheric that you can almost taste the sand and smell the dust in an unforgiving desert. There are few sympathetic characters in this moo ...more
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have to say that this is possibly the best novel I have read all year. Highly recommended
forgive; transitive verb:

a :��
to give up resentment of or claim to requital for<forgive an insult>

b :�� to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>

:�� to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) :�� pardon<forgive one's enemies>
Would she beg to be forgiven? There was not a soul to beg... [a]nd she hadn���t begged anything from anyone in her whole life. How did you do it?
������What is forgiveness, and to whom do we apply for this act, an act that typically requires
Aug 08, 2017 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book- it's more of a 3.5 star rating than a 3. It reads a lot like an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel having that same period piece feel (think Great Gatsby) ... but then the author throws in a modern day phrase or word and totally drags the reader out of the "Fitzgerald" world.

Set outside of Morocco in the Sahara desert, I found myself looking up places on a map just to get an understanding of the character's surroundings (I learned a lot). A definite weekend read!
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I received this book for Christmas from my possibly-more-of-a-bibliophile-than-me aunt. So glad because I don't think I would have ever heard of this book otherwise!

A number of reviewers on here have compared The Forgiven to The Great Gatsby, which perhaps explains why I enjoyed it so much. We follow a number of characters attending a party in Morocco on the edge of the desert, along with a couple of locals. The atmosphere and setting were great, I found all of the characters to be incredibly be
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Everyone loved this book apparently, so who am I to disagree? I will admit it was an interesting read, and I didn't have to force myself to keep reading. Here's the story: A smug alcoholic doctor and his annoying skinny wife travel from England to Morocco to attend a lavish and decadent weekend-long party given by friends they don't really like. Driving in the dark, they hit a young man who had tried to stop their car (a la
"Bonfire of Vanities" and "The Great Gatsby"). Therein lies the conflict
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Lawrence Osborne is a British novelist currently residing in New York City.

Osborne was educated at Cambridge and Harvard, and has since led a nomadic life, residing for years in France, Italy, Morocco, the United States, Mexico, Thailand and Istanbul.

He is the author of the novel Ania Malina, a book about Paris, Paris Dreambook, the essay collection The Poisoned Embrace, a controversial book about
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