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The Absolutist by John Boyne

The Absolutist (2011)

by John Boyne

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4133425,720 (4.02)59
Title:The Absolutist
Authors:John Boyne
Info:Black Swan Books, Limited, Paperback
Collections:Read in 2012, Beth's Library
Tags:twenty-first century literature, british literature, fiction, wars of the twentieth century, lgbt themes, psychiatry and mental health themes

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The Absolutist by John Boyne (2011)

  1. 00
    Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (Limelite)
    Limelite: Writing styles are similar as is the triangle of relationships and some thematic material. They differ thematically in that Waugh deals with Catholicism and faith in his novel while Boyne barely gives a nod in the direction of religion much beyond a bit of cloudy philosophy.… (more)
  2. 00
    Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (NeilDalley)

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» See also 59 mentions

English (29)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (34)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
Hmm... I pretty much took up this book for the same reasons as Lynn's:

"1. It takes place during world war 1 thus it must be teeming with enriching historical insertions that I take in with relish.
2. It is a gay romance, thus it must vigorously investigate homosexual liaisons and the torment of their clandestinity during the Great War.

I LOVE reading historical fiction (especially when it concerns world war one or two) and stories about gay people. Putting them together? I couldn't resist buying this book. But after finishing it, it left me unsatisfied for the most part because John Boyne did not touch on the deeper matters that concern homosexuality during the war. Sure, he says a lot about the cruelty of war and justified principles, which I found interesting and thought-provoking. And he did touch on the matter of concealing one's sexual orientation during that time. However, when it comes to Tristan and Will's homosexual relationship, I wasn't satisfied. Not only was it a one-sided affection (an idea I don't reject but which I think really limits the area into which the story can expand), there weren't a lot of communication(I can't find the right word atm) between them. I don't know if it's the added post-war narration that causes it or if it's merely because of the lack of information written in... but it was insufficient for me. And that really brought down my rating for this book.

In the end, I think it was an enjoyable read but it, ultimately, did not quench my thirst for an insightful account of a gay romance set during the great war. I'd love to read something similar in the future! ( )
  novewong | Jul 8, 2015 |
Tristan Sadler is going to meet the sister of his WWI companion Will Bancroft to give her Will's letters. The story moves back and forth between the present and the war as Tristan tells Marian what it was like. Sad, touching, difficult to put down. ( )
  tloeffler | Mar 13, 2015 |

The latest novel by John Boyne! I couldn't wait to read it, but unfortunately I was supposed to get this book as a Christmas present (First World Problems), so I had to wait a little time.

It was a real touching story in my humble opinion. I personally don't really know a lot about the 'Great War' aka The First World War. This has to do with the fact that The Netherlands were neutral during WW1 and therefore don't have the same feeling about it. We did suffer a lot during the Second World War though, so most of our history classes are about WW2.

Needless to say terrible things happen during the book, and it is awful to think those have really happened. The Dutch title is - translated - The White Feather, I now understand why. The writing style was, once more, very nice and once again John Boyne picked an episode from history to write a wonderful book to teach us about it. ( )
  Floratina | Jan 4, 2015 |
Tristan Sadler lives with a horrible secret from his days as a soldier in the Great War. Miraculously he survives that war, practically the only man left out of his company and goes to work in a London publishing company. When we meet him, he is en route by train to a village to complete an errand that he has been steeling himself to perform.

It is John Boyne's task to let that story build and emerge at a dignified pace so as not to alarm the reader by an indelicate revelation. The reader must be drawn gently and delicately to face the truth of Tristan's past, a truth that is shocking and appalling.

It's hard to recall a novel about soldiers at war that is more brutal, about the personal agony of being homosexual 100 years ago in England that is so devastating, and about the ironic nature of courage and cowardice whose meanings are so twisted by those two other factors that when combined, explode in one's face like a flawed grenade.

Boyne writes a strong and unforgiving portrait of a blighted man that will linger with the reader forever. One could only wish that he hadn't ended it so neatly, telling the reader what was already understood. It is only at the very end that his pen trembled, unable to maintain the restrained delicacy that is the strength of the rest of the book. ( )
  Limelite | Aug 10, 2014 |
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added by gsc55 | editMichael Joseph (Oct 21, 2013)
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Seated opposite me in the railway carriage, the elderly lady in the fox-fur shawl was recalling some of the murders that she had committed over the years.
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Book description
September 1919: twenty-one-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 he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, he speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him both happiness and self-discovery as well as despair and pain.

The Absolutist is a novel that examines the events of the Great War from the perspective of two young soldiers, both struggling with the complexity of their emotions and the confusion of their friendship.
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Tristan Sadler, a gay soldier, recalls his time spent fighting in World War I and the intensity of his friendship with Will Bancroft, a soldier who became a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor.

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