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The Absolutist by John Boyne

The Absolutist (edition 2012)

by John Boyne

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8835921,400 (4.12)95
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.
Title:The Absolutist
Authors:John Boyne
Info:Other Press, Paperback, 311 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Absolutist by John Boyne

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    SandSing7: Both poignant, moving takes on World War I by Irish writers.
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    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)
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English (53)  Dutch (3)  Spanish (2)  Catalan (1)  All languages (59)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
The Great War is over, it's 1919 and twenty year old Tristan is travelling to Norwich to deliver a clutch of letters to Marian, the sister of his old army buddy Will, who was shot in the War for treason.

The story is told by Tristan over three timeframes, the War, 1919 and 1979. The characters are strong, the plot riveting, and there are quite a few plot twists.

The friendship between Tristan and Will is explored in detail as is their falling out with each other and the terrible events that lead to Will's execution.

A compelling read. ( )
  Steven1958 | Jan 8, 2023 |
I really liked it even though it turned out to be quite different from what I'd expected. A very emotional read. ( )
  claudiereads | Nov 25, 2022 |
In 1919, Tristan Sadler is on a train traveling from London to Norwich to deliver a packet of letters to Marian, sister of his friend, Will Bancroft, who died in the Great War. Tristan was seventeen when he enlisted in the British Army after being disowned by his family. At training camp, he and Will shared a romantic connection. Tristan hopes to find the courage to tell Will’s sister the story of what happened to her brother and of his own role. We also gain insight into Tristan’s early years. Marian is in a quandary herself and we learn about her situation.

This story is told in alternating time frames between post-war 1919 and wartime 1916 from Tristan’s first-person perspective. It takes a look at the morality of war. Several conscientious objectors are key players in this tragedy. There were apparently different types of objectors. A conscientious objector will not fight but agrees to serve in other ways. An absolutist takes a hard line and refuses to serve the war effort in any capacity. Will takes a stand for what he believes is right, and his family suffers the consequences.

The book covers a lot of territory. We gain deep insight into the psychological profiles of the main characters (Tristan, Will, and Marian). It addresses themes such as identity, betrayal, courage, cowardice, loss, guilt, and grief. It also explores family dynamics, social pressures, and the changing roles for women. It would lend itself well to a book group discussion.
( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
Beautifully written. Love everything about this novel--the characters, the story, the time period, the writing style. Would love to have this as a book club book to discuss the issues of cowardice and courage and all of their many, many manifestations. Perhaps they're better understood on a continuum, and certainly with a huge dose of context. How easy it is to point out and condemn others for what's currently a hot-button social or situational transgression and completely let one's self off the hook by hiding behind social actions that appear from the outside like they're the "right" thing, but when in actually that person is acting out of cowardice.

Such a riveting story.

Here's a link to my blog post about the book: http://wildmoobooks.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-absolutist-by-john-boyne.html ( )
  Chris.Wolak | Oct 13, 2022 |
This book is a little hard to classify - it's partly a romance/love story, which I usually avoid, and partly an anti-war story, and mostly a look at social injustice during the times of WW1.

I thought it was insightful, thought-provoking, and a bit of mystery. The mystery kept me reading, because a lot of it was a bit boring to me. I can't say much about it without giving anything away, so I'll just say I read it and enjoyed it. ( )
  MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
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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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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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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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