Thursday, November 15, 2012

So Sorry

We have entered the era of the non-apology apology, and hardly a day goes by without a new example. They're so common that they are instantly recognizable by catch phrases - “Mistakes were made”, “IF I've offended anyone”, “I'm sorry you misunderstood my intent”. And in Johnathan Dee's novel A Thousand Pardons I learned that public relations firms have 'crisis management' specialists who shepherd their clients through very public crises which demand apologies.

Newly divorced Helen Armstead finds herself employed in that job in the wake of the breakup of her marriage. She discovers that she has a real talent for encouraging her crisis management clients to issue genuine apologies, without excuses or ifs or obfuscations. Ironically, her husband Ben blew up their marriage in such a spectacularly disastrous fashion that no apology could possibly repair it.

With a non-judgmental eye Dee follows Ben, Helen and their pre-teen daughter Sara as each struggles to adjust to a new reality, unable to help each other. But when Helen attempts to manage the crisis of a famous movie star (and high school crush), the family coalesces into an uneasy alliance where they learn to adjust to a new dynamic and to forgive. Dee avoids the cliches of mid-life crisis to present a flawed but believable story of an American family.