A Thousand Pardons is a novel written by Jonathan Dee. It is about using a confession as a business strategy. It is said to be written before Lance Armstrong’s public admission of wrongdoing. It asks whether reputation is just a form of capital. It tackles on whether people should apologize publicly for personal mistakes or stay private for public ones.
A Thousand Pardons begins with the end of a marriage. Ben and Helen Armstead go out to what they told their daughter as a date night. Their daughter tells them to have a good time and they pretend to throw up at the idea.
The two don’t have a good date and their actual destination is anything but sappy. They have an appointment with a couples’ therapist, who suggests that they fix their marriage by going on date nights. This is when Ben bursts into a tearful monologue that describes going home every night as a death sentence.
Helen decides she doesn’t want to help Ben and let him find his own way out of the depression. He does go out of it but in the process creates a scandal that results to the end of his marriage, job at a law firm, and his reputation.
These happen within the twenty pages of A Thousand Pardons. In the next chapters, Dee shows how Ben, Helen and daughter Sara reinvent their lives. Ben goes to rehab, not because he needs to but because it will help in his court case. Helen tries to find how to support herself and Sara.
Helen gets a job at a public relations company and finds out that she has a knack for crisis management. She tells her clients that they only need to apologize to the public to manipulate public opinion. She even gives the advice to a client who is falsely accused. She says to come clean as if you’re not dirty.
Dee has a way of mocking his characters. This leaves the novel in between becoming an emotional realism and a satire. A Thousand Pardons lacks the balance of warmth and irony that Dee’s The Privileges has.