Fiction - General
218 Pages
Reviewed on 05/27/2013
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Author Biography

Richard Freis has lived in Mississippi for almost forty years and knows the territory of the novel well. His poetry has appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, Drastic Measures and other magazines and anthologies. He has published widely, both locally and nationally, as a literary and performing and visual arts journalist, scholar and spiritual director.

At Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi Richard Freis has been a professor of classical studies, director of the innovative Heritage Program, designer of the Leadership Seminars in the Humanities, and was one of the founders and the first president of the Mississippi International Ballet Competition.

His libretto for a cantata by Alva Henderson, From Greater Light, based on the story of Job, had its world premiere in 2008 in Los Angeles with the Pacific Symphony. His pioneering work in developmental and integral frameworks has informed his work as a personal and organization consultant. He holds a BA from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland; an MA and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Master of Theological Studies from Spring Hill College.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite

George Burden seems like the average successful upper middle class man who has made a good life for himself and his family. Confession is George's tale of four days in his life during which he is forced to confront the truth about himself, his relationship with his wife and family, and the path of his life. Carried away by the love he feels for a young woman with whom he is having an affair, George loses his connection to common sense as he tries to convince her to marry him. A trip to his beach home with this woman's brother turns into an intense confrontation between George, his conscience, and the depths to which he has sunken to indulge his lust. Richard Freis brings Confession to an amazing ending which provides a push to contemplate what makes life worth living.

With fantastic imagery, descriptions, and psychological insight, Richard Freis tells an engrossing story of one man's loss of perspective and common sense when confronted with a love affair that becomes all-consuming. Confession is aptly titled since the entire story is George Burden's accounting of his sins in relation to an affair and the incredible circumstances his pursuit of this young woman bring about in a four-day period leading up to his 55th birthday. George's heart and mind open to scrutiny. Everything that has made him who he is is brought to light as he confronts the reality in which he finds himself at this turning point in his life. This is a riveting story that details the depths of human passion, frailty, and hope and celebrates the choice of surviving in spite of tremendous despair.

Karen Pirnot

In "Confession," Richard Freis treats the reader to an insightful reflection on infidelity. George Burden is a respected attorney in Jackson, Mississippi. As he approaches his fiftieth birthday, he becomes restless and he begins to reformulate goals in his life. George becomes intrigued with a woman at work and he strikes up a relationship with her. He is intensely infatuated to the point where he thinks of leaving his wife. And then, the woman's twin brother comes to town to visit and everything changes. George invites his lover and her brother to a family home on the Gulf Coast and things immediately get out of hand to the point where George begins to fear for his own life.

The author takes the reader deep inside the human psyche. George speculates and agonizes over his own life choices. He brings forth sophisticated motivations for his own actions and he imagines that God will surely punish him for his transgressions. And yet, he appears helpless to extricate himself from the illicit relationship. "Confession" is a brilliant study of the machinations of the human mind and soul. It puts into print what most of us silently ponder and it does it with a great deal of depth and perception. At times, it seems that George is sitting in therapy, with himself as both the patient and the therapist. This is a book for those who have agonized about their own transgressions as well as those pondering straying from established self-belief systems.

Danita Dyess

Confession by Richard Freis opens with a disturbing scene of a distraught man, George Burden, a 55-year-old attorney. Apparently, his botched suicide attempt at sea led him to seek redemption. So, he ends up at a church. Why? Burden had the perfect life in Jackson, MS: partnership at Burden, Cassel, Fairchild and White law firm, upstanding position in the community and respect from Cash Sessums, the governor. However, his steamy affair (obsession) with Becca, a lady 24 years his junior is the most important thing. With Becca, he can forget about his unsettling flashbacks about his father and he can rationalize his betrayal of his wife, Julia. Now, it seems as though Burden’s entire life has been condensed into four days of utter turmoil.

The beautiful cover of the sea and sunset belies the dark undertones of Confession. The pace was a bit slow but it was necessary for the complex plot. Richard Freis does an excellent job in creating characters you can connect with, sympathize with, and others you will love to hate. I truly enjoyed Confession and highly recommended it.

Anne Boling

In Confession by Richard Freis we meet George Burden, a prominent lawyer in Jackson, Mississippi. This story begins with a letter written to a priest. It is a confession where George expresses his self-disgust. George is well aware of his sins and goes as far as trying to kill himself. George is having a torrid affair with his bookkeeper Becca; did I mention Becca is younger than George’s daughter and she is not only beautiful but single with a five-year-old child.

What begins as a one night stand turns into an obsession. Becca makes it plain that she is not interested but George wants more and proposes marriage. Becca refuses but when George sees her with a man her age he loses it and will stop at nothing to make her his wife. His life appears to be happy and his career successful. Although George is aware of his misdeeds, he continues to use bad judgment. At first he does not recognize his sins but eventually he realizes that what he thought was love was merely lust. But will he realize it before it is too late. The time comes when George longs for forgiveness and restoration.

Confession is told from George’s point of view. I found it amazing that all of this occurs in less than 100 hours. Confession is a thriller with twists and turns that kept me reading all night. The author’s writing style is beautiful; the descriptions read like poetry.

Bobbie Grob

Beginning with a man, his wife, and an illicit affair, Confession by Richard Freis goes into some very dark, very desperate places as it follows the search for eternal love. George Burden, an aging, well-off Southern gentleman of sorts is having an affair with a much younger coworker, as he has tired of his socially-correct wife. George’s life is going along nicely until he decides that he must ask his mistress to marry him. The book spins this tale of George, his mistress, his wife, and a mid-life crisis against the backdrop of the Deep South in the heat of summer. Although the book spans only four days, what goes on in those four days is sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising, and sometimes downright shocking.

At first, I found in George Burden a rather dated stereotype of the rich man off having his fun while his dutiful wife sits home alone, her only crime being that she dared age. As the story went on, my opinion changed, but only for the worse. George is seeking to have everything he wants at the expense of those around him, and then he wants to be patted on the head for being a good man. I disliked George so intensely that I considered giving the book three stars, until I realized that in order to elicit such a response for a fictional character, Richard Freis had to do an excellent job in crafting George and his other characters for Confession. If you enjoy psychological suspense, this book is a must-read.

Jack Magnus

Confession by Richard Freis is a tale told by George Burden, a prominent Southern lawyer, of 4 chaotic days which culminated in his attempted suicide. The urbane and polished attorney is writing out this confession to a priest he had heard mentioned by a bishop who sometimes is part of his golfing four. Unable to verbalize the events that led to his sodden and disheveled appearance at the rectory, he resorts to confession by writing. His life, so ordered and predictable, became one of secrets and clandestine meetings in hotels when he became involved with Becca, one of the employees at his law firm. They first met at the vet's office and their coffee, shared doughnut and laughter seemed to give his life more sparkle and worth. His already distant relationship with his wife Julia had become little more than a formality, like a proper suit worn at the proper time. George's obsession with the young woman grows into what he feels is love, albeit tinged with the fear of losing her. His discomfort peaks when she fails to accept his offer of marriage.

Richard Freis' Confession is a lyrical and moving tale of a middle-aged man who has clutched onto a bright piece of youth as a drowning man might a branch or a rescuer's arm. While George's story reveals a man whose life has been a shadow-play, an attempt to create the perfect family, have the perfect wife and be the consummate professional, there is still the motherless and alienated child who is not sure how to react to his father's rages and contempt. Where George shines and is fully alive seems not in Becca's submissive arms, but rather in the flats outside the family's coastal house. Here we share his memories of magical childhood moments racing crabs, climbing trees in the early evening to watch the fireflies and glancing back towards the house to see his mother smiling at him.

Confession is a beautiful, disturbing book that entrances and lulls the reader into a quiescence that even the bursts of savagery and rage cannot quite overcome. This is a remarkable book, and one I recommend.