Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Absolutist

A friend of mine sent out an article recently that John Irving had written, where Mr. Irving recommended "four really outstanding novels".  I was intrigued with the description of one novel: The Absolutist by John Boyne, an Irish writer.   The odd thing was, I had difficulty finding the book and it was just published in 2012.  I don't know why it was hard to find, but I was able to order it from Amazon.com.

The Absolutist is truly an outstanding book.  I read it in two days...couldn't put it down.   The story begins in September 1921 in Norwich, England.  Tristan Sadler was a young soldier who had returned from the War and was setting out to return letters to his best friend's sister....letters that she had written to her brother, Will.  Will had become Tristan's best friend during their training and they had fought alongside each other during the Great War.  Sadly, Will did not survive.  Will became an "absolutist".

"It's one step beyond conscientiously objecting."

An absolutist would not help the war effort in any way.

"Won't fight, won't help those who are fighting, won't work in a hospital or come to the aid of the wounded." 

The men fighting the War in this story considered absolutism to be:

"Cowardice on the most extreme level."

The last chapter of the book is "The Shame of My Actions" from 1979 London.  Tristan was now in his eighties, and he again met up with Will's sister.  There is a very unexpected twist to the end of the book, one which left me very sad.

What happens to Will becomes the story of Tristan's life.

This book is powerful.  It is a wonderfully, sad love story.  And has strong perspectives on war.  I am so glad that I found and read this book!  (Thanks, Paul!)

1 comment:

Paul R Day said...

Now I have to read this!