The Absolutist Hardcover – 12 May 2011
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"Extraordinary...The narrative is by turns surprising and tragic in equal measure while its troubling conclusion will stay with readers long after they've closed the book." (Carlo Gebler)
"Powerful, poignant and beautifully written. This will become a classic war novel." (The Bookseller)
"Compulsive, stylish and gripping" (Reader's Digest)
"A wonderful, sad, tender book." (Colm Toibin)
"John Boyne brings a completely fresh eye to the most important stories. He guides us through the realm of history and makes the journey substantial, poignant and real. He is one of the great craftsmen in contemporary literature." (Colum McCann)
The dazzling new novel from the bestselling author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
I've read three other books by John Boyne (' .... Striped Pyjamas'; ' ... Bounty'; '...Special Purpose') and really enjoyed them. The Absolutist was very disappointing. One other reviewer has already alluded to the use of the modern idiom. I too found this frustrating and point out expressions completely out of context with the time " ... We were an item."; " Keep it together". There are many others, one of them being the repeated use of the word 'foxhole' when Boyne means 'dugout'. According to Merrion Webster (Encyclopaedia Britannica) the word foxhole wasn't coined until 1919. If the 'voice' of the narrator and other characters, plus the contextual setting, is not believable then the credibility of the book begins to crumble.
However, the use of modern idiom pales beside the sloppy research. Sergeant Clayton seems to be in command of the whole regiment (Boyne means battalion as regiment is titular and in the first world war, a regiment could comprise as many as twenty battalions.The only officer referred to is General Fielding, whom Bancroft says he will approach regarding the murder of the German soldier. This just couldn't happen. There are at least nine ranks between sergeant and the lowest rank of general and complaints are only forwarded initially to the next rank up. Where was the company commander ( a captain or major) and the lieutenants. Also, when Saddler is sent back for medical treatment. Sergeant Clayton overrules the doctor's decision concluding with the doctor saying to Clayton "Understood, Sir." All army doctors are officers who wouldn't defer to a mere sergeant and would never call a lower rank 'Sir'.Read more ›
World War One and its effects on the individuals involved is a topic returned to regularly in fiction. Here we see Tristan Sadler going to visit the sister of a fallen comrade in 1919. The visit brings his memories to the surface and he relives the emotions encountered while in France during the war.
Tristan's character is sensitively developed. He is tormented by his experiences and torn between what is right and what is wrong. Visiting Marian serves as a vehicle for him (and her) to consider their feelings about what happened.
The trenches are described in great detail and the atmosphere is very vivid. The book is compared to Birdsong which I was by sceptical about but, having read the book, I think is fair. Here the story is slimmed down to only two views - the trenches and the visit the following year which intensifies the emotions.
It is a difficult challenge going over such a well trodden subject and there is little in here which has not bee covered before. However, John Boyne explores his subject so tenderly that this book cannot fail to be a worthwhile read to anyone interested in the human side of World War One.
The story is written in a style that is enjoyable: the story is told by the 21-year old protagonist, in such a way that you immediately feel a connection with him, even though it's mostly out of pity. There are four distinctive time lines in the book: when Tristan was a young adult; when he had just joined the army; shortly after the 1st World War; and the 'present'; scrambled within the book to obtain a story of perfect order.
The story itself is very intriguing, mostly because the main storyline deals with certain aspects that aren't regularly discussed when talking about war. I would love to elaborate on this, but it would most likely spoil the experience of reading the book yourself. And if that part of the plot isn't enough to keep you glued to this book, then you should know that writing about the 1st World War gives the author the opportunity to talk about certain details (the trainingcamps, life in the trenches,...) of that tragic occurrence, and he does this so skillfully and vivid, that it's hard not to feel very emotional while reading those passages. In short the story can best be described as a combination of Mystery, Drama and Romance.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Instantly one of my favourite books ever. So evocative - i shed a tear on several occasions.Published 2 months ago by Amelia Fitzgibbon
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it does revisit themes that other authors have covered. If literature is representative there do seem to have been lots of gay people fighting in... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Miss C.
Really well written and a heart wrenching read. Couldn't put it downPublished 4 months ago by lorna redfern
I was disappointed with this book. It is clear very soon that Tristan is gay and that he revealed this tendency while at school. Read morePublished 4 months ago by SL
Unrealistic: missed out the officers. Main protagonists probably wouldn't have been squaddies.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is First World War fiction from a slightly different angle. There are 2 parts to the story, set at 2 different times and the novel alternates between the 2 sections. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Michelle Thompson