The Absolutist by John Boyne
Motivation for reading:
John Boyne has been on my radar for years, but Les's recent review convinced me the time had come to try one of his novels.
Source: ebook borrowed from the library
Publisher's summary (from goodreads):
It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War.
But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will - from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.
The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they've turned the last page.
The stars aligned for a great reading experience last week. It started with Les's review, which appeared just as I was about to select my next book. Then, consulting goodreads, I found several other trusted blogging friends loved it, too. And finally, the ebook was available for immediate download from my library.
Choosing this book was a bit of a departure for me - I do not read war books. Novels focused on life back home or women at Bletchley Park, for example, are fine, but I prefer not to go to the front. The Absolutist took me right into the trenches. In addition to the actual fighting, descriptive details of lice infestation, unrelenting mud, and physical hardship made for tough reading at times... but it was all relevant, even necessary, to the story.
The writing itself was excellent and the character development superb. I loved getting to know Tristan and Will and also appreciated the way Boyne portrayed minor characters. The ending literally took my breath away.
I know many of you have read John Boyne and I will definitely seek out more of his work. Are they all this intense? What do you suggest I read next?