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Customer Review

on 13 March 2001
The world of this book is a rather specific one - that of the male gay Englishman in the 20th century, so if you aren't male, or gay, or English, you might want to pop your head out of the book and gasp for air every so often. Also the graphic descriptions of homosexual congress can make it an uncomfortable read on crowded commuter trains, as I discovered to my cost. Having said that, the book is well, if lavishly, written, and the interlocking tales of danger and desire work together to produce a brilliantly cohesive picture of the evolution of English gay life before the onset of AIDS. The story centres on the relationship between the narrator, a privileged and promiscuous young aristocrat, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, whose life he saves in a public toilet. Nantwich turns out to have had quite an eventful life, as we discover when the narrator is asked to write his biography. The depictions of white boys attracted to black boys are particularly well-handled, and the twists and turns of the plot never take you where you expect. The book's world may be insular, but its immersion in and explication of that world is brilliantly realised.
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