5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Tenderly Devastating Young Gay Love Affair,
By A Customer
This review is from: Now and Then (Paperback)
The simple beauty of this love story shattered me. I kept on crying and couldn't sleep for a week. I kept on having nightmares, not the kind where ghouls chase you...but the kind where you imagine yourself as Chris Metcalfe, waking up one day and you're almost fifty, alone, still in denial. Rummaging through old school memorabilia you come accross the face that haunted you for thirty years....you remember a distant love that was buried under years of self induced uncaring pretension, and suddenly, you are confronted with the vacuity of the life you have been living ...
This is a beautiful love story, whether gay or otherwise, but especially since it is gay ...
For a lot of us who are constantly looking for models of how we should act or love, point to us whether being gay is evil or maladjusted, the story tells us that we just fall in love with the special person, whether society deems it wrong or not. We fall in love because we are human.
The story is set in an English public school where
Chistopher Metcalf is seduced by Stephen Walker, a prefect two years his senior. From the depravity of "a school system designed to run an empire" we become part of an involving love affair, subsequently swept from the warm passion and tenderness of a Stephen in love to the cold and almost violent machinations of another Stephen, young, brilliant, Cambridge bound, and who has everything to lose should his "luggage loft" be discovered. All the time we are exposed to the strength, constant unselfish love, and rock fast determination of a Chris, that slowly disintegrates into a vicious empty, martyrdom ... constantly waiting for a Steph that doesn't come back...for thirty years. We share the intimate joy of the moment when Steph calls Chris "Kit", then breaks us again when we hear the sacred name uttered by somebody else, a constantly giggling, demonic former fourth former who turns out to be another of Steph's affairs.
Did Steph really love Kit ? this is the question we ask ourselves until the end, when eventually we learn that life must go on, and that even if we do not attain the love of our life forever, at least, in the words of Lord Alfred Tennyson, "Tis better than not to have loved at all." We must go on even after a self-consuming love that "wouldn't
die", if only because the seeds of future loves might be strewn along the way, usually without our noticing, since we are too busy consuming ourselves.
This novel is special to me, it is a love-story, unlike a lot out there that are simply pornography. It has graphic details, yes, but intead of simple carnal arousal one finds oneself hurting, too, part of the emotional roller coaster, tender/caustic love affair between Kit and Stephen.
This is the first real young gay love story that I have read. Although it can be said that it also suffers from the seeming defect of gay love stories that they almost always have the element of despair, martyrdom and the ubiquitous disappointment, love stories won't be readable without them. For the romantic among us, it tells us that love transcends societal mores, that being human, we are capable of loving, although it also tells us to "seize the day", and live for the present. It tells us that, although we may have loved the love of our life, we are still capable of loving again... and again...