The Absolutist By John Boyne (Review by Kala Saxon)

2 min read

Rating: 3.5 ⭐

The Absolutist is one of John Boyne’s work of historical fiction that was published in 2011. Now, ten years later it has been reissued with a different cover.

What drew me to this novel is that I read The Heart’s Invisible Furies a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t help but want to read this novel. This story develops thru a duel timeline. You have present day Tristan who is meeting up with the sister of a battle buddy from World War 1. The second timeline is set during Tristan’s younger years, before joining the military and his time in service.

This novel is very character driven, with minimum influence from the plot. I think that was the thing that bothered me most. I enjoy a character driven novel, but I like the plot to be able to stand on its own. This is a story about passion, love, secrets, acceptance, and denial.

You start with a young man living during a time where there wasn’t a such thing as acceptance. A time when a confused young man had no one to turn to in his need of help and understanding. This leads to an event that changes the course of his life and puts him on the path to become a soldier. While Tristan is learning to become a soldier he befriends Will. While their friendship appears to be more on a level of tolerance than actual friendship, things happen between them that change their friendship.

In present time, Tristan is visiting Will’s sister to give her the letters that Will kept. Will did not come home from the war. Present day Tristan is reflecting on his time that he spent with Will and their time fighting in the war. He also has some things that he would like to do over, but the past cannot be changed. As the years go on, you notice that Tristan’s time fighting in the war has stuck with him because of the things he had to do, things he witnessed, and most of all his friendship with Will.

I would recommend this book if you like character driven novels, historical fiction, and representation of the queer community even if that was not accepted during the time that this story takes place.

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