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Jan 2024 Meeting

For our book club meeting in January, we read Absolution by Alice McDermott. The book club loved the first section of the book – Tricia’s experiences in Saigon, her encounters with Charlene, her naivety when it came to both world and personal affairs. The book club wanted more from the second section of the book and felt it was somewhat incomplete. Despite this, they still awarded Absolution 4 stars.

Jacket Synopsis:

You have no idea what it was like.

For us. The women, I mean. The wives.

1963. Saigon. Tricia is a shy newlywed, married to a rising attorney working for US Navy intelligence.

Charlene is a practiced corporate spouse and mother of three, a beauty and a bully. The two women form a wary alliance as they struggle to balance the pressure to be respectable wives for their ambitious husbands, with their own dubious impulses to do good for the people of Vietnam. Sixty years later, Charlene’s daughter, spurred by an encounter with an aging Vietnam veteran, reaches out to Tricia.

Together, they look back at their time in Saigon, discovering how their lives as women on the periphery of politics, of history, of war, of their husbands’ convictions have been shaped and burdened by the unintended consequences of America’s tragic interference in Southeast Asia. Exploring the disaster of the Vietnam War through the lives built by American wives in 1960s Saigon, this is a virtuosic novel about folly and grace, obligation, sacrifice and the quest for absolution in a broken world.

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