It is September 1919: twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver a package of letters to the sister of Will Bancroft, the man he fought alongside during the Great War.
But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He can no longer keep a secret and has finally found the courage to unburden himself of it. As Tristan recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will - from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.
The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they've turned the last page.
I DON'T SPEAK TO Will Bancroft until our second day
at Aldershot Military Barracks but I notice him on our first.
We arrive in the late afternoon of the last day of April, some
forty of us, a group of untidy boys, loud-mouthed and vulgar,
stinking of sweat and bogus heroism. Those who already know
each other sit together on the train, talking incessantly, afraid
of silence, each voice competing to drown out the next. Those
who are strangers hide in window seats, their heads pressed
against the glass, feigning sleep or staring out as the scenery
rushes past. Some make nervous conversation about the things
they have left behind, their families, the sweethearts they will
miss, but no one discusses the war. We might be on a day trip
for all the nerves we dare show.
We stand around in groups as the train empties and I find myself next to a boy of about nineteen who glances around irritably, taking me in and dismissing me again with a single look. He ...
...[W]hile some readers may find the material unsympathetic, the author raises worthy questions, including the consequences of holding fast to unchangeable events. Boyne's rendering of Marian Bancroft... also helps invigorate the material. Conflicted, temperamental, charming, forgetful, loyal to her brother's memory, and unforgiving, she is complex where others seem defined by a handful of traits. Her story elevates the plot as Sadler must consider the effects of facing the family of someone he has harmed. Readers who are intrigued by the period and by the author's previous award-winning novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, will appreciate this latest exploration of psychological trauma on the Western Front.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (785 words).
In John Boyne's The Absolutist, twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich, England to deliver a package of letters to Will Bancroft's sister. Norwich, a city located along the River Wensum in eastern England, is the county seat of Norfolk and was once one of the largest, most populated towns in England, second only to London in prosperity.
Norfolk (literally meaning North people), shares the bulge on the east of England, known as East Anglia with it's southern neighbor - Suffolk (South people). The region is known as East Anglia after the Angles, a Germanic group who settled the area by the 5th century. The etymology of Norwich is essentially north-wich - wich being the Anglo-Saxon designation for a ...
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