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Book 209: The The Absolutist by John Boyne

Book 209: The Absolutist.
Author: John Boyne, 2011.
Genre: Period Fiction. World War I. War. GLBT.
Other Details: ebook. 321 pages.

September 1919:20 year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian’s brother Will during the Great War but in 1917, Will laid down his guns on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which has brought shame and dishonour on the Bancroft family.

But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage. As they stroll through the streets of a city still coming to terms with the end of the war, he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, and speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him from brief moments of happiness and self-discovery to long periods of despair and pain.
- synopsis from author's website

I had deeply appreciated this novel when I read in 2011 (Book 117) and it emerged as one of my favourites for the year. Three years later it was selected for our November library reading group and proved an even richer experience reading a second time.

It was also very well received by the members of the group and note was made of how well Boyne had captured the horrors of trench warfare, Given the 100th anniversary of the Great War it proved an appropriate and sober choice to remind us all of the sacrifices made by former generations. A novel I would recommend to all.
Tags: glbt, period fiction (20th century), war
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