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Steve (UK)

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The Dog In The Chapel
The Dog In The Chapel
Price: £3.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly captures what it was like to grow up Catholic and gay half a century ago., 28 Sept. 2014
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To anyone brought up as a Roman Catholic in the 50s and 60s, this book will bring it all flooding back. In my case, I was 10 when I was caught kissing another boy my own age in the dormitory of a Catholic prep school. While we were not expelled, the repercussions were traumatic and contributed to my denying my sexuality as a gay man for many years. Anthony McDonald captures the atmosphere and ethos of those times in a Catholic institution perfectly: the mixture of dedication and discipline hovering on the brink of disaster is especially well portrayed, as are the characters of the Benedictine monks and of boys reaching puberty: part adult, part child still. The book is also a poignant reminder of how homosexuality was regarded at the time: not just a sin condemning you to hell fire but a crime punishable by imprisonment and accompanied by lasting disgrace. McDonald conveys both the exciting innocence of the relationship between the two young schoolmasters, Tom and Christopher, but also its extreme vulnerability and risk. He leaves you thinking that the chances of the two men, now in exile in France, being able to overcome their trauma to enjoy a lasting love are fragile. Among many brilliant books by this author, this is one of his finest.


The Two Hotel Francforts
The Two Hotel Francforts
Price: £5.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but unsatisfying., 27 Sept. 2014
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This is a beautifully written book. It evokes the atmosphere of wartime Lisbon and the fear and dislocation of people fleeing from terror to uncertainty with vivid artistry. But its central characters are all unsympathetic and there is an air of unreality about them and what befalls them. There is no clear background to the affair between Edward and Pete, which even the cover blurb describes as an "unlikely affair". The female characters are elusive and their emotions and behaviour come across as stylised rather than real.
Part of Leavitt's purpose seems to be to show how, in the face of war, everything is out of joint, including time itself. But, while I found the book readable, I was disappointed. It is, as the blurb again says "an extraordinary work"; but not a compelling one compared with some of Leavitt's other, brilliant, books. It is almost as if he is treating us to a literary experiment but one that does not quite come off.


Ivor's Ghosts
Ivor's Ghosts
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting story in every sense., 22 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Ivor's Ghosts (Kindle Edition)
Surprising and thought provoking, this is a change of theme and approach from a great author. It has all of McDonald's brilliant evocation of places and their atmosphere but it really is a psychological thriller. In the events it describes it touches the boundaries of credibility: enough to make the story fascinating and mysterious, but never implausible. And in the character of Ivor, McDonald has managed to create a multi-faceted personality, part victim, part villain, always uncomfortable, sometimes repellent but also seductive and sympathetic. As with all the best tragedies, there is an inexorablity about its progress towards the denouement but the book still weaves it spell of mystery and suspense.


Gay Romance in Barcelona
Gay Romance in Barcelona
Price: £3.29

5.0 out of 5 stars Best yet of an outstanding series of gay romances., 16 Sept. 2014
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Anthony McDonald is a prolific writer - thankfully. His novels never fail to captivate, intrigue and move. This one is no exception and, while I have loved all the 'Gay Romance' novels to date, I think this one is probably my favourite. Spain is well loved ground for the author and, just as he did for Seville, he captures the feel and atmosphere of Barcelona with descriptive passages which are one of his greatest gifts. The two central characters, one English, one Irish, are enormously appealing and the exquisite agony of their love is touching and tender - and builds to a terrific crescendo.


The Child's Child
The Child's Child
Price: £5.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A powerful story of the power of prejudice and persecution., 10 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Child's Child (Kindle Edition)
This book was recommended to me for its treatment of the persecution of gay men in the 1930s and that aspect certainly resonated with me as a gay man who grew up in the 50s. It is powerful and poignant. As is one of its other themes: the victimisation of single mothers. The story itself is clever, interweaving past and present with characters whose experiences are both similar in terms of events but very different in terms of outcomes. My one reservation is that two of the central characters, have very pronounced changes of personality. In the case of Maud (the dominant figure in the book) her souring is just about credible, though it is extreme . In the case of Bertie, one of the gay characters, I found it hard to see in the passionate lover of the early book the callous villain he later becomes. I felt that the characters were manipulated to make the plot work. But it is nonetheless a very rewarding read and has some powerful insights into very human predicaments.


Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry
Alone: The Triumph and Tragedy of John Curry
by Bill Jones
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.90

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story of the star who fell to earth, 6 Sept. 2014
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John Curry did for ice-skating what the Impressionists did for painting: he broke the rules and changed the conventional into a revolutionary and accessible art form. But it was an erotically charged art form and one which the macho official skating world struggled against until Curry's genius and the overwhelming enthusiasm of the public forced the recognition for which he had battled.
From his early childhood, Curry was fixated on skating. One of the things which resonates through this compelling book is his sheer dedication, hour after hour, day in day out. And his intolerance of anything which did not fit his view, his discipline and his conception of art. He could be a cruel taskmaster and a fickle friend. His life after his Olympic triumph was only occasionally happy, personally or professionally. But he had a transcendent quality which made people love him even when he did not return their gift.
We were lucky to have had his genius; lucky to have benefitted from his courage in publicly acknowledging his sexuality. It is hard not to mourn as one reads of Curry's tragic, brave ending and we are fortunate to have this compelling book by which to celebrate his flawed. greatness.


Schlomo (French Edition)
Schlomo (French Edition)
Price: £7.20

5.0 out of 5 stars An unusual and thought-provoking story of self-discovery., 2 Sept. 2014
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This is a compelling story of alienation, attraction and love. Its narrator is a young Frenchman, at odds with his family, knowing from an early age that he is gay and travelling to Israel in the early 1970s (though he is not Jewish) to work and live on a kibbutz. There he meets a young, dumb but Adonis-like Englishman and much of the story is about their relationship: complex, erotically charged and ultimately fated. It is also about Schlomo, an overtly hard-bitten, war-toughened, young Israeli soldier with whom the narrator has a brief but life-changing affair. I don't know if the book is semi-autobiographical, though it could easily be. It is a candid, erotically charged and moving account of a voyage of self-discovery and self-acceptance.


Lost In The Crowd
Lost In The Crowd
Price: £2.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, passionate and rewarding., 24 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Lost In The Crowd (Kindle Edition)
I had not come across this author before but I loved this story of love between a country and western star seeking anonymity and the unlikely man who rescues him and makes him his own. It is brilliant on the sexual attraction between the two central characters and has an unusual plot centred around Jared's need to recapture a bit of himself from public ownership.


Lone Star
Lone Star
Price: £1.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Romantic Christmas (or all-year) treat, 24 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Lone Star (Kindle Edition)
Although I read this Christmas love story in August, it was no less captivating for being read out of season. Its appeal lies in Lanyon's ever-excellent writing and his creation of credible characters with a relationship which, equally credibly, spans a decade of estrangement. It is pacey, funny and touching.


Unearthing Cole (Discovering Me Book 1)
Unearthing Cole (Discovering Me Book 1)
Price: £3.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Glad I unearthed this one., 24 Aug. 2014
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This is an attractive love story about two men, hurt in different ways, who find confidence and love together. It is a good and unusual story and the characters are appealing.


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