The Wake of Forgiveness

Written by Bruce Machart
Review by Jeanne Greene

Bruce Machart’s powerful and moving story begins with a woman’s death in childbirth, a common-enough event in Texas in 1895, which will shape the life of the child and harden the heart of the father. Vaclav Skala once knew the meaning of love, but it is not something he will teach Karel, his youngest son. Vaclav’s priorities are clear; so are his weaknesses. A gambler and a drinker, he hitches his sons to the plow and saves his horses for racing. When Karel becomes a superb rider, Vaclev puts the boy atop his own stallion to run against neighboring horse owners. The stakes: land by the acre. Karel wins repeatedly. The Skala holdings grow.

When a wealthy Spaniard with three daughters in need of husbands challenges the Skalas to a race, Vaclav risks everything, including the fate of his three older sons. As the youngest, Karel must win the race to keep the girl he loves. His brothers want Karel to lose and free them from their father. It would be unfair to reveal the results of the race; suffice it to say that a family, never close, is ripped in half. As an adult, Karel does not relate his bittersweet memories or his feelings of loss to the presence of love in his heart, or to its absence in his life. Only when a crisis forces him to reconnect with his brothers does he open his mind to possibilities of forgiveness and reconciliation.

The author not only knows horses and Texas, he knows how hungry is the human heart. Bruce Machart is an author worth watching. The Wake of Forgiveness is highly recommended.