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N for Narcissus by Chris Hunt
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N for Narcissus

by Chris Hunt

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Taking place in the 1890s, shortly after new repressive laws against homosexual practices were introduced, and while at the time some women were beginning to think more radically, N for Narcissus is set a against the backdrop of the trials of Oscar Wilde.
Lord Algernon Winterton, rich, very handsome with a generous head of golden hair, particular about his dress, respectably married and a devoted father of three children, is the perfect Victorian gentleman. However his marriage was a great relief to his domineering mother following his sexually wayward youth, when he was considered too intimate with his male friends, especially Willie, a lively and attractive young cockney with whom he planned eloping. But now, in his early thirties, events transpire to rekindle his youthful passions and he embarks on a series of dangerous liaisons. Yet while he enjoys the intimacy of a number of street boys and an attractive impish young actor, it is the dark young man he first encouners at one of his wife’s small gatherings that wins his heart, Arthur Hughes. The pursuit of Arthur leads Lord Algy on an escaped that takes him from the luxuries of his London home and country ancestral estate, to the more the liberal thinking Paris and the slums of London’s East End; and involves dealing with a subversive mystic, the threat of blackmail, and associating with some East End rogues.
The on going trails of Oscar Wilde lend authenticity to the story, and the hypocrisy of the period is well portrayed as Algy’s peers express horror at Wilde’s proclivities and maintain a respectable front while secretly indulging their own illicit desires. The detailed writing conveys well the contrasts and inequalities of the times, from the luxurious lifestyle of Lord Aygy and his circle to the deprivation of London’s slums.
I found this an enjoyable and enlightening story, and while a little long winded at times, the prose style lends an appropriate period feel to the tale. As events gather momentum it builds to an exciting and rewarding finale, with a few touches of humour thrown in. ( )
1 vote Bembo | Jan 25, 2007 |
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