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The Gay Divorcee [Paperback]

Paul Burston
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Mar 2010

Phil Davies should be happy. He has a flourishing bar in the heart of Soho and in six months he will be marrying Ashley, the man he adores (even if his nickname is 'The Incredible Sulk'). In short - he's living every gay man's dream. There's just one problem: Phil has been married before, seventeen years ago. To a woman. In fact, technically Phil and Hazel are still married. And what Phil doesn't know yet is that Hazel has a seventeen-year-old son. But that's all about to change . . .

Brilliantly funny, heart-warming and filled with bittersweet observations, The Gay Divorcee is a hugely entertaining tale of love, marriage and the lies that happen in between.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (4 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0751542369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0751542363
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.6 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 531,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Burston was born in York, raised in South Wales and now lives in London.

His books include the critically-acclaimed novels 'Shameless' (shortlisted for the State of Britain Award 2001, reprinted 2009), 'Star People' (2006, reprinted 2009, 2010), 'Lovers and Losers' (shortlisted for the Stonewall Award 2007, reprinted twice in 2009, 2010) and his latest 'The Gay Divorcee' (2009, reprinted 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012).

Paul Burston is also host of "London's peerless gay literay salon", Polari, at the Southbank Centre, and creator of the Polari First Book Prize for LGBT-themed work.

His hobbies include diving and DJing.

Visit his website at, join him on Facebook at or follow him on Twitter @paulburston

Reviews of 'The Gay Divorcee':

'I absolutely loved it. Paul Burston is the nearest thing the UK has to Armistead Maupin' - Jonathan Harvey

'Delicious' - The Times

'Immensely enjoyably' - Julian Clary

'A great read - I read it in one day' - Lorraine Kelly

'F**king fabulous' - Paul O'Grady

'Wonderful, wicked and witty, laugh-out-loud funny. Burston's best yet. Loved it!' - Marc Almond

'An entertaining novel that, like most relationships, is bittersweet and heart-warming. A new angle on chick lit. Loved it! Five stars' - Now magazine

'Bitchy, funny, acute and moving. A triumph' - Suzanne Moore

'A fascinating portrait of Soho in the noughties: vivid, charming and romantic' - Susie Boyt

'Accomplished entertainment...a rollicking, steamy, witty saga... Social politics underscore the delicious froth: quite besides the plight of poor Phil, the maelstrom of modern gay life (from drugs to online sex, vanity to homophobia) is concisely deconstructed by Burston' - The Times.

'Gay London's Jane Austen... a fearless chronicler of modern gay life in all its glory and grotesqueness.. up-to-the-minute, unashamedly commercial and absolutely in-yer-face... What makes the book really special is the sensitive treatment of Hazel, Phil's wife, whose story takes up almost half of the book' - The Independent on Sunday

'Burston expertly handles entwined storylines and evokes the energy and anxiety of gay London nightlife. This incisive writer mostly reserves a light, tender touch... Moving and witty, "The Gay Divorcee" is a diverting read to settle down with' - Metro

'Warm, witty, funny and at times very moving. The main story and sub-plots are interwoven well to create a story that is hard to put down and Burston's comedy touches are a real delight. The book would make a great film. Love, betrayal, friendship and humour; it would make a great rom-com' - Lancashire Evening Post

''The Gay Divorcee' is Burston's best book by far, one of the sweetest inside-tracks about the romantic aspirations and disappointments of modern marrieds I've read in a long time' - Christopher Fowler

'The gay novelist of now. Brilliant' - Boyz

'Hilarious and moving' - Gay Times

'Easily one of the leading gay commentators of his generation' - Attitude

'A readable, enjoyable look at London gay life with just enough realism to counter the superficiality of the scene. Ideal summer reading, and definitely worth a look' - The Pink Paper

'"The Gay Divorcee" is funny, fast-paced, and unflinching in its criticism of the gay scene, but it is also deeply emotional.The strength of the book, as well as the breadth of its appeal, is in the balance it maintains between its surface and its depths. It has nails, yes, but it also has a heart' - Polari Magazine.

'"'The Gay Divorcee" is a terrific read. Warm, funny and heartfelt, the tale is inhabited by beautifully drawn characters who will have the Soho set guessing for months to come over just who they're based on. Compelling and hugely entertaining, we couldn't put it down!!' - Beige.

'Piercing contemporary wit. Four stars' - Diva Magazine

'For fans of the witty and wicked, Burston's novels hit the spot' - Pride Life

"The Gay Divorcee" is a thoroughly entertaining read with excellent dialogue and empathetic, well-rounded characters... a must for anyone who's been on the gay scene and met the many characters that Paul Burston has successfully brought to life' - Chroma

Product Description


Burston can go from waspish to wise and back in a sentence . . . Bitchy, funny, acute and moving. A triumph (Suzanne Moore)

Wonderful, wicked and witty, laugh-out-loud funny and touching ... Burston's best yet. Loved it! (Marc Almond)

Immensely enjoyable (Julian Clary)

I absolutely loved it. Paul Burston is the nearest thing the UK has to Armistead Maupin (Jonathan Harvey, writer of BBC2’s Beautiful People)


'A wonderful, wicked and witty, laugh-out-loud funny and touching observation of Soho gay life 2009. We know the characters so well. I hope future gay generations will shudder. Burston's best yet. Loved it!' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Badly Written and Clichéd 9 Sep 2010
A Kid's Review
I totally agree with `Book `Em's' review (dated 5th May).

These `reviews' are VERY suspicious. Having also witnessed Burston in 'review me' mode, the ones on here CANNOT be taken seriously. This book, like all his others, is poorly written, with clichéd plots and very little in terms of character development. For someone who professes to understand the gay community so well, Burston always chooses to focus in on the negative stereotypes, with little explanation as to motivation. In fact, he's starting to come across as `self-loathing'. In a struggling market it amazes me how he manages to find a publisher. No doubt they know that he will shift copies based purely on his continuous and, ultimately, self-defeating, self promotion.

This book is like the literary equivalent of being bombarded by advertisements for a Hollywood film - and then minutes after sitting down to watch it you realise you're watching a poorly scripted and clichéd dud.

The only good thing I can say is that if you are looking for a book on `how not to write a novel' - this is the one for you. Now watch a 4 or 5 star 'review' pop-up after this one...
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44 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars, really...? 5 May 2010
I am left more than a little suspicious of the numerous 5 stars this title has received. My book group have just finished it and without exception everyone thought it was a pedestrian, clichéd, shallow piece of poorly written fiction. We could not believe it has had so many great reviews until one member of our book group suggested we have a look at the `see all my other reviews' of those giving it 5 stars. To no one's surprise we discovered that the vast majority of those reviewers have never reviewed anything before - Burston's book is the only one. We then checked the author's Facebook site and discovered him thanking all his friends for posting reviews.

The book is like his characters, shallow and with little merit. It is not suffice to simply state book after book that the gay scene is awash with hedonistic, drug-taking, permissive people, surely even Burston is getting bored writing this by now. It is like stating there are more minorities in prisons and not asking why or there are more teenage pregnancies in Britain than the rest of Europe without asking why.

This book is less a triumph of satire and prose and more a triumph of Facebook marketing. Don't be fooled by the 5 star plaudits on here. My advice from now on is to check reviewers other reviews. If you see too many by people who have only reviewed that book, you can bet there is an author thanking his friends on Facebook for their reviews.
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26 of 38 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, cliched and shallow 9 Aug 2009
I do not understand why this book has been so warmly reviewed. The characters are one-dimensional, the prose style cliched and pedestrian, and the plot completely predictable. In its favour? Well, it doesn't take long to read and it is an accurate depiction of a very narrow segment of gay life. It is, however, a profoundly depressing read. This is partly because of its lack of literary merit but mainly because of the vacuous and superficial world it portrays. Did we really fight for this? I wouldn't mind if the narrative voice suggested some kind of critical perspective but then that would be asking for skills that the author simply doesn't possess. For what it's worth, I know that I am not alone in thinking this: the book was read by my local lesbian and gay reading group last month and was slated by the dozen or so people who attended and who'd had the misfortune to read it. If you want a light holiday read, try "My Lucky Star" by Joe Keenan - it has a lightness of touch, wit and panache that this book completely lacks.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bad chick-lit with a gay twist 3 July 2011
The other negative reviews have said it already, really. I found this book trite, shallow, cliched and lacking in any emotional depth or truth. After reading it I felt soiled in the same way as after reading the Daily Mail. If you're a gay man who socialises in Soho, then fine, there might be an enjoyable frisson from having your turf referred to in print. Otherwise, there is no point in reading this novel - you'll turn the pages alright, but it will make you groan and leave you feeling bleak. There's a quote on the cover by Jonathan Harvey that Paul Burston is "the nearest thing the UK has to Armistead Maupin". If that's true, then it's a pity, and I suggest you read Maupin instead.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A big disappointment 13 Oct 2010
I bought this book expecting a light and funny read. The reviews were very positive, even glowing. Unfortunately, the book really didn't live up to the reviews. I thought the writing and plotting were pretty pedestrian, and it wasn't all that funny.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars nice light read 2 Feb 2011
Nope, its not Shakespeare or Dickens and to be fair this book never sets out to be. It's a simple story of love, relationships and what happens when unfinished business catches up with you.

Anyone that goes out on The Scene in London will instantly recognise all of the gay characters - Hell, I was surprised to see myself in there - and the description of the places and situations they find themselves in. For me, this was one of the great selling points of the book. It brought to life ideas and places that could not really be described to non scene-queens or those on the fringes. I'm not sure anywhere near as much drug taking goes on as depicted, but that could just be me being very nave, but the characters, even the most shallow are fully formed and all have their place in a narrative that moves from the `glamour' of London to a small town in Wales and back again with surprising ease.

Not a Booker winner, but a dammed good read when relaxing at home.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wish it'd been longer
A nice sequel to Shameless and I was glad it was a sequel as I felt I'd just got to know the characters, and in particular Martin when Shameless finished. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Panda
5.0 out of 5 stars A contemporary classic!
So much modern story driven literature is very poorly written, but not TGD. It a superb, witty, well paced, drama, that is easy to read. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Wayne
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice book
First forray Into gay lit and I wasn't disappointed. Likeable characters (and some not- you'll know what I mean when you read the book). Its a nice book that isn't too taxing
Published 14 months ago by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars This could have been my biography!!
Loved this book - superbly written, kept me engrossed to the very end. Certainly reminded me of how lucky I am to have met my "husband" and get away from the "bitchiness."
Published 14 months ago by David Hayes-MacLeod
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect book to get lost in whilst commuting on the northern.line!
Really well paced. Didn't expect the twists and turns and the the characters and the representation of the scene were well formed :)
Published 15 months ago by Clive Cort
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Been meaning to read this for a while... Really enjoyed it, was a great read and excellent 'cliff-hanger' transitions into continuing the story between different characters that... Read more
Published 17 months ago by MC
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best pieces of gay fiction in ages
One of the best pieces of gay fiction in ages with a great touch of realism. Readable, intelligently written, relevant, with all the elements required for amusement and poignancy. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Murrocks
5.0 out of 5 stars sian pepper
the first book i d read by Mr Burston...and i fell in love with it...the relationship between the characters is touching and funny ... you felt all the emotions ... brilliant x
Published 18 months ago by sian
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars? You bet!
This has to be my favourite Burston yet! I made the mistake of taking this delightful book away with me on holiday and ended up missing a day of sea and sun because I couldn't put... Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2012 by FShelling
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book: loved the entertaining plot, some tasty twists and a refreshingly natural narrative style. Read more
Published on 14 Dec 2011 by Jack Scott
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