on 14 January 2004
This is one of the best coming of age stories I've ever read. McDonald takes a familiar and overused theme and works many different angles into it to make it stand out. Set in rural France, it adds atmosphere to the story, and the main character, Adam, is for once a fairly complex person; likable but by no means perfect; intelligent, but capable of making serious and potentially dangerous mistakes. Considering the book may have been aimed primarily aimed at young people, there is quite a substantial number of sex scenes, some quite graphic. However, McDonald handles it very well, and at no time is the story in danger of degenerating into smuttiness. In fact, the sex scenes are an integral part of the plot. The book is at odds with so many 'erotic' stories out there, it manages to pull off so much more without even trying to be erotic. If only more gay-themed stories could do the same!
A brief synopsis of this amazing book: Adam is a 16-year-old boy living in France. He is the perfect son- polite, cello player, academic, bilingual. But Adam struggles with this perfection as he struggles to maintain his happiness as a young man coming to terms with being gay. He begins an epic and secret affair with a farm-hand he just happened to meet one day and the adventure turns into a great confusing love story which will set any mind boggling.
OK, I realise I've not done it much justice with my synopsis, it sounds a bit silly really. But it isn't. It is fabulous. McDonald has a superb way of presenting erotic ideas in this book, and it is not only romantic and passionate, it is frustrating, amusing and a brilliantly entertaining read.
This is one of those books you tell yourself you'll just read one more chapter but then bargain with yourself just to read one more! i found myself trying to put it down so i could get a good night sleep before a busy start, and ending up reading 10 chapters! Foolish writer for being good!
But seriously, it is good, it is entertaining, and I cannot deny that the exoticness of the book is rather rough and ready but is brilliantly put and very good to read.
This book will not appeal to most straight males, and it isn't a book for the faint hearted. I think the best readers for this book are for people between the age of 16 and 25, mainly females and gay men or more open minded men. Don't let your granny read it nor your little sister!
Absolutely fantastic -one of my favourites EVER!
on 6 May 2006
It is good news that this fine novel is being reissued by a new publisher after the sad demise of GMP. When I finished 'Adam' the first time I immediately started to read it again and since then I have dipped into it several times. The story is intense, moving and finally hair-raising; Adam, the impeccably middle class, cello playing, only son of parents working in France for a year, is swept up into an affair with a total opposite, a wild, sprite-like but virile peasant young man from a farm deep in the countryside nearby. The sights, sounds, smells of the French countryside in different seasons make an evocative setting for the interweaving strands of turbulent adolescent emotions and serious music making. There is sex for Adam with visiting school friends from England and with his wild Frenchman, Sylvain, the writing of it is intimate and sensitive.
I believe a sequel to 'Adam' is on its way and that too is good news. Both 'Adam' and Mcdonald's previous novel,'Orange Bitter, Orange Sweet', which has a similarly evocative setting in Seville in Spain, show that Mcdonald is a writer to follow.
on 2 March 2010
I first bought this book when I was a teenager, and was much more interested in reading about the sex the first time I read it.
Six years on, I decided to pick it up again and really read it, and was pleased to discover much that my adolescent self had completely missed.
The book deals with a classic theme, but does so in quite a unique fashion. The main and titular character, Adam, is not an easy person to identify with. He is 16, plays the cello, has arguments about literature and classical music, and generally speaks and thinks at odds with most boys his age, gay or not.
However, you do relate to his urges, and I don't just mean sex. This books presents us with a story that you would just LOVE to be involved in. From the setting (a very beautifully described France), to the friends he has (everyone seems to be attractive and ready for bed) to the lover, himself.
The story works well, keeping you reading and interested, giving Adam depth in that sometimes he does the right things, and other times you feel frustrated and want to shake him.
It has too much of an idyllic feel to work completely, and I was completely unsure what I thought of the ending, but aside from that it was an enjoyable read that I would recommend, provided you wanted a love story you would aspire to, rather than something you would relate to.
on 19 September 2008
If you are gay, bisexual or just 'curious' this book is likely to make you wish you were sixteen again. And if you are still around that age, I suspect by the end it may even help you feel 'ok' about how messed up life can be, without preaching.
I started flicking through this book last night as an idle distraction from a project that I've been obsessing about for a month now, consuming all my free time. It completely derailed my evening. I could not put this book down (ok I put it down maybe twice as nature called and I needed coffee, but that was it, honest).
The main character makes some bad choices and things get messy (and not just in the nice 'watch out for the parents' way, kids). He has some good friends who seemed three dimensional, and I'm pretty sure I went to school with all of them and apparently missed out on some fun times. This book has some very sexy moments in it, but you'll miss the point if you just try to flick to the 'good bits'.
On the very minor negative side there are some of the cliche's of coming-of-age novels here that I normally find quite irritating (to those authors in general, I'm sure I wasn't the only horny gay teenager whose world failed to catastrophically implode), but the story is well crafted with some beautiful prose and rings true to anyone who has spent time in a real French community.
The instant I finished reading I
a) wished there was more
b) wanted to read it again and
c) just had to come here and write this review.
Oh yes ... 'd)' .. after I reluctantly closed the book I truly found myself wishing I was sixteen again.
A final word of warning: you will need a box of tissues for this one.
on 22 May 2013
I'm at a bit of a loss about what to say because any words I string together sound a bit lame after reading this book. It really is beautiful.
It tells the story of Adam, a rather precocious 16 year old who has moved to France temporarily with his family. So what can I say about Adam? He is intelligent, he is a talented cellist, he suspects that he is gay although he's not entirely sure, and he thinks about sex a lot. Adam thinks about sex so much that he initiates sex with pretty much everyone male he meets. Now, this of course makes it sound like a very smutty little coming-of-age tale, but the way it is written is so amazingly beautiful, it's not that at all.
You see, Adam happens to fall in love with a 22 year old farm boy called Sylvain (who incidentally has a mental age of 14) and Sylvain happens to fall in love with Adam. Which would be fine (actually, no it wouldn't because of a hundred problems inherent in the relationship) but the simple love affair it is, is also incredibly complicated, partly because of Adam's complete inability to keep it in his pants. And Adam's complete inability to form any coherent thoughts when the slightest hint of sex is involved (which for Adam is all the time).
While this book is definitely erotic, it is not particularly explicit. Quite often in fact you are just told that 'they make love' but the fact that Adam's thoughts are so sexually charged makes the whole feel of the book erotic.
The author writes so beautifully that you don't just 'read' this book, you 'feel' it. You feel the beauty of the French countryside, you feel the confusing rush of emotions that are constantly bombarding Adam, you feel the intensity of first love, and you feel the absolutely undeniable thrill and pull of temptation.
Now, I have seen reviews mentioning that the the language is too descriptive, and this initially put me off reading the book. I tend to like fast-paced stories, without too much flowery language, but as soon as I started reading this I forgot all about my preferences for snappy little scenes and just enjoyed the absolute beauty of the language used. The occasional use of French adds to the atmosphere, although I could see how it might be frustrating if you had no knowledge at all of the language.
This author is truly a cut above. His use of language is beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Oh, and did I mention it's beautiful? I think I may have done once or twice.
Sixteen year old Adam is in France from England for a year with his parents; his father's work has assigned him there. Adam is a well behaved lad, with a great talent as a budding cellist, he also realises he is not interested in girls, he prefers boys. While in France he continues his education and gets on well enough with his French peers, but it is the twenty two year old farm labourer Sylvain who gets his attention. Handsome dark haired and tanned, Sylvan captures his heart; they fall in love and carry on s clandestine affair. But how will it all end?
We follow Adam's exploits with Sylvan, their many adventures into the French countryside and their expressions and explicit demonstrations of love; and also Adam's interactions with his schoolmates in France and England.
This is a delightful story, Adam is a very likeable boy, and he has some very loyal friends, Sylvain is equally likeable and quite innocent for his age. The writer appears to have a good knowledge of the locality and its flora, which comes over in the narrative. While it could be criticised for being a little too good to be true at times, it is nonetheless a very pleasurable read.
on 17 October 2007
It wasn't just me - I got half the beach in Mykonos laughing at extracts from this. It's cutely badly written - laying on the would-be sincerity with a shovel - like soft-core meets a thesaurus. It's got all the ingredients of a fantasy for those who have been unfulfilled at 15 and would like to re-imagine the past and imagine a strange, inarticulate, semi-barbaric stranger were there to rescue them from their constrictive so-called innocence.... And when that man turns up it's a real stylistic hoot. Give it a go and enjoy.
on 18 June 2012
This book is very well written, but if you don't understand French have a French to English dictionary to hand as there are a few short dialogues from time to time in French without translation.
Based in France, this follows the story of an English secondary school student, Adam, who lives in France temporarily due to his fathers work.
Adam is a very relatable character for any gay teenager growing up with the confusions, realisations and explorations of their sexuality. His infactuation and adoration of Sylvain, a slightly older lad who leads a simple life, is very well expressed through the authors articulate writing style.
It is a very gripping read, and the erotic scenes are intense. This was a book that was very difficult to put down at times, so I would highly recommend it. Sometimes a little far fectched, but it is fiction after all. The only disappointment is the ending, which I found quite bland and lazy, but I suppose seemed a realistic end to an unrealistic coming-of-age tale.
on 18 September 2011
It's an overused cliché but I really did find this book difficult to put down. I carried on reading long after I should have set off for appointments or gone to bed and finished it in three days.
A well written book with wonderful word-pictures that mean you can get right into the story. Yes, it does use artistic licence - Adam seemed very successful at surrounding himself with gay friends and far more so than reality should allow - but you are drawn into the plot and, thanks to the author's style and word-smithing, can easily visualise the events as they happen.
My next job whilst logged on here is to search out the next in the series!