Another book group question: why ‘Forgiven’?

It’s interesting how the request for questions about the books started me thinking about them, and what they mean and represent to me, a year or two after writing them. In particular, I’ve been thinking about the title of the second one ‘Forgiven’. As I was writing it, I was very aware of the need – and the difficulty – to forgive ourselves and each other for past mistakes. John needs to forgive his mother, but she sometimes makes it so hard for him to do so. Maggie may need to forgive her mother-in-law for letting go of John as a baby, but she never does. The relationship between Jessie and her Maggie is a classic, never really resolved. There’s a great confrontation between the two of them early on in Forgiven that I really enjoyed writing.

As the second book, Forgiven has always sold less well than the other two, in paperback and on Kindle. Partly I feel that may be about the cover, which gives no indication of what lies within. Or it might be the ‘middle book’ problem, less ‘separate’ than the first of last of the trilogy. Forgiven has less external tension in the plot than the others, but more internal tension, in the relationships. I smiled and cried more writing that one than either of the others. Jessie is her own worst enemy, prickly and careless, but I felt for her. I’d love to know what other readers made of her in ‘Forgiven’. Can we forgive her, and hope she mends her ways, or do we accept her just as she is?

Jessie’s question to Matthew Dawson, her apparently attractive suitor, is ‘Why should I want or accept your forgiveness, when I feel I’ve done nothing to be forgiven for?’ Forgiveness is clearly in her mind a double-edged concept, implying ‘fault’ in the person to be forgiven. Is that always true?

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