Starting July 10, 2012 Other Press will be publishing The Absolutist, a novel by John Boyne. The book is worth putting on your summer reading list and a story I won’t soon forget.
The story opens in England in 1919 and revolves around Tristan Sadler a twenty-one year old who has seen more adversity and tragedy than anyone his age should know. His suffering (both physical and emotional) is touchingly told by Boyne who teases out a story about Tristan coming to terms with both who he is and the horrors he’s survived after serving on the front lines in The Great War.
The first pages of the book start with Tristan traveling to deliver personal letters to the sister of a fallen comrade who lives in Norwich. Really two stories unfold in this book; Tristan’s time in Norwich with Will Bancroft’s sister as well as his memories as a 17 year old kid enlisting, training and finally on the front lines in World War I.
The intensity of Tristan’s feelings for his comrade, Bancroft, become more apparent as the story unfolds, but Boyne does a great job of weaving Tristan’s emotions into a larger story which makes his suffering all the more human. I’m not normally a fan of war stories but Boyne’s easy to read writing style drew me in and made it difficult to put the book down, and I think you’ll feel the same. Readers will also appreciate how far the LGBT community has advanced over the past century.