Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Blame” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.34  ·  Rating Details ·  4,258 Ratings  ·  722 Reviews
Patsy MacLemoore, a history professor in her late twenties with a brand-new Ph.D. from Berkeley and a wild streak, wakes up in jail I>yet again after another epic alcoholic blackout.

“Okay, what’d I do?” she asks her lawyer and jailers. “I really don’t remember.” She adds, jokingly: “Did I kill someone?”

In fact, two Jehovah’s Witnesses, a mother and daughter, are dead,
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published July 23rd 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Blame, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Blame

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Bruce Stern
Jan 22, 2011 Bruce Stern rated it really liked it
Last night I finished reading a book that for three-quarters of it I disliked. My dislike was exacerbated by the hoopla about it, including a nomination for a National Book Critics Circle award. Was I missing something, or many somethings, in my reading? How come many reviewers liked this book? I submitted a comment—no more reviews were permitted—in response to one of the reviewers. A woman who enjoyed the book answered me, in part, by encouraging me to finish the book. I did, and I'm ...more
Once again, a great premise and decent writing, while important, are not sufficient conditions for a great book. Once again, an author takes a complex story idea with rich potential and cops out by having it degenerate into Harlequin-worthy romance and ordinary family tale. Sigh.

Imagine waking up from an alcohol-induced blackout to be informed that you’ve killed two innocent people by driving drunk and are now in jail, awaiting sentencing. You, leading a standard middle-class life except for thi
Jade Eby
Oct 20, 2011 Jade Eby rated it really liked it
Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements

So my review of this novel is kind of like reviewing an old friend because I’ve been reading this book over the course of the last couple months for my Novel Writing class. Reading something over a couple months span I’ve realized has its pros. I feel like I have a really firm grasp on this novel and the characters because I’ve spent so much time with it. For my class, I had to break down the novel and really spend an adequate amount of time
aPriL does feral sometimes
Jul 11, 2013 aPriL does feral sometimes rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary
If this book was 80 pages shorter I'd be writing how much I admired this masterpiece. Instead, I'm yawning.

Patsy Maclemoore is no hero or survivor. For most of the book she is a conventional upper middle-class professor who finds herself in prison for half of the book and a wife and stepmother for the other half. Except for the usual minor dramas and traumas of American life, nothing happens. She learns the rhythms of the diminished and controlled environment of safe minimum security prisons, bu
Jun 20, 2012 Judy rated it really liked it
Because I live in the Los Angeles area, Michelle Huneven, who lives in the suburb of Altadena, is a local author, beloved by the LA Times and friendly to our local bookstores. I've been meaning to read Blame ever since it was published. One of my reading groups picked this title from among my suggestions and thanks to them, I have finally gotten to it.

Often I read as an armchair traveler, visiting locations I will never go to physically. But there is a special pleasure derived from a book set in
Aug 16, 2010 Lauren rated it liked it
This was another strange read for me; even though I knew this was a "three-star" book for me, I finished it. Here's why:

- Again, I liked the author's writing style. A lot. She rivals my favorite authors with her use of language and her descriptions.
- The plot was somewhat compelling... but in an almost trashy sort of way.

Given #1 (and also #2) it made sense for me to finish it. I also thought it was worthwhile to finish this book because I wanted to explore what it was that I didn't like about i
Sep 23, 2009 Jjanovyak rated it really liked it
I'm sure I should reflect a bit before I post this, but I think I'll decline to control the impulse and just go with it. I enjoyed this novel thoroughly and I want to say so right now.

Huneven is a beautiful writer and I am off next to reserve her earlier titles at my local library. She moves this story unflinchingly through pain and betrayal, and doesn't cut anyone any slack. Yet she treats the characters kindly, and doesn't reduce anyone to a cartoon.

My vote for best quote from this book comes
Jan 31, 2010 Barbok rated it really liked it

Do not read the book jacket flap.

I don't read a lot of popular fiction. However, I couldn't stop reading this one--I read the entire book in one day.

Blame is about guilt, redemption, forgiveness, love, understanding oneself, and maturing. A young woman, Patsy, frequently drinks until she blacks out. You know she's headed for disaster before she finds herself in prison for killing two people while driving during one of her black outs.

I don't think I'm giving anything away, as every review I've

Book Riot Community
I’m currently writing a story that covers a long period of time in the life of one person and I’m finding it brings up some really interesting challenges. Blame covers a good 20 years in the life of a woman and the author does it so perfectly that it should be handed out to fiction writers as a passage of time master class. The story of Patsy, the protagonist, begins during a particularly bad drunken spell, continues through a stint in prison, her first days back on the outside, and then a long, ...more
Jan 19, 2010 RoyGBiv rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010
This was such a fantastic book. I deeply cared about multiple characters and think this author writes characters with incredible skill. Blame is the story of Patsy, a young history professor and alcoholic who, after a night of blackout drinking, is found guilty of killing two Jehovah's Witnesses, who were walking down her driveway, with her car (and on a suspended license). Having no real memory of that night, Patsy is terrorized by guilt and endures prison while resolved to change her life thro ...more
Leslie Jamison
Nov 09, 2009 Leslie Jamison rated it it was amazing
I might destroy my credibility by making my first review five-stars, but I thought this book was wonderful: moving and surprising, unsentimental but unafraid to court deep feeling in its attention to characters and the quiet stasis of their pain, their small moments of redemption. I've often seen literature portray AA in blandly unequivocal terms, but here it ecomes a character in its own right--a bit unwieldy but totally powerful, a deeply human site for power wrangles and incredible empathy. T ...more
Sep 02, 2009 Nette rated it it was amazing
This was like the best-written soap opera ever -- elegantly plotted, gorgeous prose, but full of juicy drama and surprises and coincidences. Also, talk about timely, it's set in brushfire country -- Arcadia, Pasadena, Altadena -- and even features scenes of prison fire crews. I couldn't stop reading it. (My only quibble: she doesn't use quotation marks in her dialog. Only Roddy Doyle can get away with that, and that's because his books are nothing BUT dialog.)
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 26, 2011 switterbug (Betsey) rated it liked it

It's another morning in the county drunk tank for Patsy, who is sadly inured to this ritual. She wakes up in her vomit and her filth, with no recall of last night--she experiences frequent blackouts when she drinks. A young, talented, comely, and statuesque college professor, Patsy is nevertheless on a grease skid to oblivion due to untreated alcoholism. This time she is accused of running down and killing a mother and daughter in her driveway, and her life subsequently takes a turn to prison.

Jan 03, 2010 Laren rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 05, 2009 Melissa rated it it was ok
This book had promise: Patsy, a woman in her twenties, a party girl with some DUIs in her past, wakes up in jail and learns that she killed a mother and daughter while driving drunk. It sounded like a great premise for a novel, but the author didn't do the story justice. Patsy is sent to prison for two years. Granted it's 1981 and the very stringent drinking and driving laws were only evolving, but only two years? The author spends very little time on Patsy's prison experience. She attends AA me ...more
Nov 07, 2012 Melissa rated it liked it
Patsy wakes up in a jail cell to find out she's killed two people while driving drunk. After serving time in jail, Patsy must adjust to life after such a horrible experience and the guilt she feels.

One of my biggest problems with this book is the fact that it tells you there's a "huge twist" on the dust jacket. Once you start reading it you are just waiting for the twist, which is obvious from the start, but doesn't happen until almost the end of the book. I was incredibly disappointed that the
Feb 12, 2013 Vegantrav rated it really liked it
Blame is an incredible example of a character study: the protagonist, Patsy, as well as Gilles, Brice, and Cal are all brilliantly drawn. We readers come to know and understand these characters intimately, deeply. And we grow to love Patsy and Gilles, and even Brice.

The plot itself is extremely intriguing though there's not a lot of action: this story is a slow simmer throughout, never quite coming to a boil; even the critical moment is reserved and quiet, though nonetheless enthralling.

When one
Feb 22, 2010 Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 27, 2012 Susan rated it it was ok
I vacillated between liking this novel and between feeling unsatisfied. "Blame" is the harrowing tale of Patsy MacLemoore , a brilliant out-of-control alcoholic college professor whose life is altered forever when she kills two people while driving drunk. Imprisoned for two years, she must rebuild her life, deal with her guilt, and seek redemption upon her release. There's much to ponder in this novel, including hope and redemption, AA, AIDS, friendship, family, and marriage.

There was much that
Aug 16, 2010 Judith rated it really liked it
A pretty, funny college professor gets drunk one night and runs over 2 Jehovah witnesses in her driveway, killing both the mother and daughter. Unfortunately, since she has a history of drinking and driving and was driving on a suspended license she ends up serving a 2 year prison term. But this is only the beginning of the story. I hate to say this is chick lit, but it would definitely appeal more to women than to men in my opinion. I enjoyed every minute of this book because it is so subtle an ...more
Carol Hunter
Nov 25, 2009 Carol Hunter rated it it was amazing
..a beautifully written story of shame, alcoholism, complexity & redemption ...
May 02, 2014 Colleen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, reviewed, kindle
This is a story where a bunch of interesting things almost happen to the main character…

I want to like this book. I really do, because there was so much potential, and it did introduce me to a bunch of situations and events that I’d never given much thought to, but when I finished it I felt incredibly unfulfilled. I guess one thing you can take from this is that you can’t really predict what’s going to happen in the story, because more often than not that big dramatic thing you just know is abo
Mar 11, 2017 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Despite the strange introductory chapter that didn't really add anything or fit into the flow of the rest of the book, this one started out pretty good. But then it ended up just not going anywhere or delivering anything.

There is a story to be told here, but what I expected to be an interesting journey into the aftereffects of the consequences of bad choices, instead turned into a boring day-to-day of a pretty average person. And while the big twist reveal toward the end made me think about bla
Larry Bassett
Aug 14, 2010 Larry Bassett rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime
In its 291 pages Blame: a Novel covers a good deal of territory: alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous, psychotherapy, relationships, fate, AIDS, loyalty and marriage, feeling and living with guilt, accepting and assigning blame, homosexuality, happiness, penology, academia, parenthood.

Blame is identified as “a Novel” in its title. Since the title of the book is important, including for the marketing of a book, why would an author (or a publisher) want to include the designation of “novel” in what
Sep 06, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it
¶ My review for the AP:
¶ "Blame" (Sarah Crichton Books, 291 pages, $25), by Michelle Huneven: Anyone who has been on a bender will read the first chapters of "Blame" with thank-God-it-wasn't-me relief and the anxiety of knowing it could have been.
¶ History professor Patsy MacLemoore has a new doctorate, blond good looks and a problem with alcohol. She awakes from a blackout in jail and asks her lawyer and the police, jokingly, "Did I kill someone?"
¶ Two Jehovah's Witnesses, a mother and daughter
Kristen Jett
Nov 12, 2012 Kristen Jett rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
This is a do-not-finish for me. In all honesty, it was really a dead on arrival but I suffered through 225 pages before I got too angry to even care. I rarely ever DNF books - I'll choke it down and go through it no matter what. I actually started a twitter conversation about this. I couldn't care less if the main character (or most of them really) was hit by a bus Regina George style. I was so morally angry at the book and the author when I stopped that I knew I'd be furious if she did indeed t ...more
Dennis D.
Oct 30, 2009 Dennis D. rated it really liked it
After a brief prelude to set the table, the story proper opens with Patsy MacLemoore awakening in jail. Or, more precisely, she comes to in jail. She’s a raging alcoholic, and has no idea how she wound up there, or what she’s 'in for', until she is led to an interrogation room with two cops, and her lawyer, Benny.

Was I driving again? Moi? Sans license?
The men gazed at the nicked and thinning oak veneer as if they were poring over a war map, as if she were not in the room.
Okay, what’d I do? Or do
Kathy E.
Jul 01, 2013 Kathy E. rated it really liked it
If I had rated this immediately upon finishing the book, I would have given it a generous 3 stars. But after letting the story simmer in my mind for a few days, I caught onto a few things that the author may or may not have implied. A few readers may be astute enough to grasp these thoughts and apply them to their own lives right away, but I am the sort that likes to casually toss around the plot and events over a period of time. It is when I feel I've truly gained something personal that I know ...more
Todd Carper
Jun 27, 2012 Todd Carper rated it did not like it
Here's the plot. A fairly wealthy women (college professor) has a drinking problem and blacks out frequently. One morning she wakes up in jail and finds out she killed two people after drinking then driving. She doesn't remember any of it, but takes full responsibilty, spends time in jail, sobers up, gets out and gets on with her life. Quite honestly, that is about as exciting as the book got for me. I like books that leave you with hope at the end, without solving everything...and I guess that ...more
Mar 18, 2010 Steph rated it did not like it
I was really excited about this book and the thought the premise and cover were awesome. It was a huge disappointment!

Spoiler alert!

overall I think that the many voices the author took to tell the story was just too much! There was a lot of back and forth between Joey and Patsy. She needed to start with one narrator and make her work the entire way through the book.

At the end, when there was potential to wrap up the story in a neat little bow, the author ruined it by throwing in yet another twis
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Who/Where? 1 32 Aug 10, 2010 07:29AM  
  • One on One
  • Almost Paradise
  • The Hour Between
  • I Couldn't Love You More
  • Spooner
  • The Confessions of Edward Day
  • A Monster's Notes
  • What We Have: A Family's Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival
  • A Happy Marriage
  • Live Through This: A Mother's Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love
  • A Friend of the Family
  • The Book of Dahlia
  • Glover's Mistake
  • Going Away Shoes
  • Some Things That Meant the World to Me
  • Await Your Reply
  • Father of the Rain
  • New World Monkeys: A Novel
I am the author of four novels.

I was born in Altadena, California just a mile from where I live now. I college-hopped (Scripps, Grinnell, EWU) and landed at the Iowa Writers Workshop where I received my MFA.

My first two books, Round Rock (Knopf 1997) and Jamesland (Knopf 2003), were both New York Times notable books and also finalists for the LA Times Book Award. My third novel, Blame, (Sarah Cri
More about Michelle Huneven...

Share This Book

“To find love is the great human undertaking...and it's always complicated by our compulsions and unconscious patterns, to say nothing of issues of trust and control.” 18 likes
“Why is it, she said, when you actually do the right thing for once, it doesn't feel good? In fact, it feels so awful you think you are going to die?
You feel like you are going to die, Patsy, because some part of you is dying.some entrenched tyrant of the soul, and sweetheart, she is not going easy.”
More quotes…