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The absolutist / John Boyne.

By: Boyne, John, 1971-.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London. : Doubleday, 2011Description: 309 pages ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9780385616041 (hbk.); 9780385616058 (pbk.).Subject(s): World War, 1914-1918 -- Fiction | Friendship -- Fiction | World War, 1914-1945 -- Fiction | Soldiers -- Fiction | World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- Western Front -- Fiction | World War, 1914-1918 -- Veterans -- England -- Fiction | War and society -- Fiction | Conscientious objectors (UK) -- 1914-1918 -- Fiction | Self-discovery -- Fiction | Cowardice -- FictionGenre/Form: War stories. | General fiction.DDC classification: 823.92
Contents:
It's September 1919: 20 year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian's brother Will during the Great War but in 1917, Will laid down his guns on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which has brought shame and dishonour on the Bancroft family. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage. As they stroll through the streets of a city still coming to terms with the end of the war, he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, and speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him from brief moments of happiness and self-discovery to long periods of despair and pain. The Absolutist is a novel that examines the events of the Great War from the perspective of two young privates, both struggling with the complexity of their emotions and the confusion of their friendship.
Summary: A novel that examines the events of the Great War from the perspective of two young soldiers, both struggling with the complexity of their emotions and the confusion of their friendship.
List(s) this item appears in: 9. Your Best Reads of 2017
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Fiction Collection BOY 1 Checked out 24/10/2019

Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

September, 1919. 20-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian's brother Will during the Great War but in 1917, Will laid down his guns on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor.

It's September 1919: 20 year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian's brother Will during the Great War but in 1917, Will laid down his guns on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which has brought shame and dishonour on the Bancroft family. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage. As they stroll through the streets of a city still coming to terms with the end of the war, he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, and speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him from brief moments of happiness and self-discovery to long periods of despair and pain. The Absolutist is a novel that examines the events of the Great War from the perspective of two young privates, both struggling with the complexity of their emotions and the confusion of their friendship.

A novel that examines the events of the Great War from the perspective of two young soldiers, both struggling with the complexity of their emotions and the confusion of their friendship.

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Excerpt provided by Syndetics

Seated Opposite Me in the railway carriage, the elderly lady in the fox-fur shawl was recalling some of the murders that she had committed over the years. 'There was the vicar in Leeds,' she said, smiling a little as she tapped her lower lip with her index finger. 'And the spinster from Hartlepool whose tragic secret was to prove her undoing. The actress from London, of course, who took up with her sister's husband just after his return from the Crimea. She was a flighty piece so no one could blame me for that. But the maid-of-all-work in Connaught Square, I rather regretted killing her. She was a hard-working girl of good Northern stock, who perhaps didn't deserve such a brutal ending.' 'That was one of my favourites,' I replied. 'If you ask me, she got what was coming to her. She read letters that were not hers to read.' 'I know you, don't I?' she asked, sitting forward now, narrowing her eyes as she examined my face for familiar signs. A sharp combination of lavender and face cream, her mouth viscous with blood-red lipstick. 'I've seen you somewhere before.' 'I work for Mr Pynton at the Whisby Press,' I told her. 'My name's Tristan Sadler. We met at a literary lunch a few months ago.' I extended my hand and she stared at it for a moment, as if unsure what was expected of her, before shaking it carefully, her fingers never quite closing on my own. 'You gave a talk on untraceable poisons,' I added. 'Yes, I remember it now,' she said, nodding quickly. 'You had five books that wanted signing. I was struck by your enthusiasm.' I smiled, flattered that she recalled me at all. 'I'm a great admirer,' I said, and she inclined her head graciously, a movement that must have been honed over thirty years of receiving praise from her readers. 'As is Mr Pynton. He's talked several times about trying to lure you over to our house.' 'Yes, I know Pynton,' she replied with a shudder. 'Vile little man. Terrible halitosis. I wonder that you can bear to be near him. I can see why he employed you, though.' I raised an eyebrow, confused, and she offered me a half-smile. 'Pynton likes to be surrounded by beautiful things,' she explained. 'You must have seen it in his taste for artwork and those ornate couches that look as though they belong in the Paris atelier of some fashion designer. You remind me of his last assistant, the scandalous one. But no, there's no chance, I'm afraid. I've been with my publisher for over thirty years and I'm perfectly happy where I am.' She sat back, her expression turning to ice, and I knew that I had disgraced myself, turning what had been a pleasant exchange into a potential business transaction. I looked out of the window, embarrassed. Glancing at my watch, I saw that we were running about an hour later than planned and now the train had stopped again without explanation. 'This is exactly why I never go up to town any more,' she declared abruptly as she struggled to open the window, for the carriage had begun to grow stuffy. 'You simply cannot rely on the railways to bring you home again.' 'Here, let me help you with that, missus,' said the young man who had been sitting next to her, speaking in whispered, flirtatious tones to the girl next to me since we departed Liverpool Street. He stood and leaned forward, a breeze of perspiration, and gave the window a hefty pull. It opened with a jolt, allowing a rush of warm air and engine-steam to spill inside. 'My Bill's a dab hand with machinery,' said the young woman, giggling with pride. 'Leave it out, Margie,' he said, smiling only a little as he sat down. 'He fixed engines during the war, didn't you, Bill?' 'I said leave it out, Margie,' he repeated, colder now, and as he caught my eye we considered each other for a moment before looking away. 'It was just a window, dear,' sniffed the lady-novelist with impeccable timing. It struck me how it had taken over an hour for our three parties even to acknowledge each other's presence. It reminded me of the story of the two Englishmen, left alone on a deserted island together for five years after a shipwreck, who never exchanged a single word of conversation as they had never been properly introduced. Twenty minutes later, our train shifted into motion and we were on our way, finally arriving in Norwich more than an hour and a half behind schedule. The young couple dis - embarked first, a flurry of hysterical impatience and rush-me-to-our-room giggles, and I helped the writer with her suitcase. 'You're very kind,' she remarked in a distracted fashion as she scanned the platform. 'My driver should be here somewhere to help me the rest of the way.' 'It was a pleasure to meet you,' I said, not trying for another handshake but offering an awkward nod of the head instead, as if she were the Queen and I a loyal subject. 'I hope I didn't embarrass you earlier. I only meant that Mr Pynton wishes we had writers of your calibre on our list.' She smiled at this - I am relevant , said her expression, I matter - and then she was gone, uniformed driver in tow. But I remained where I was, surrounded by people rushing to and from their platforms, lost within their number, quite alone in the busy railway station. I emerged from the great stone walls of Thorpe Station into an unexpectedly bright afternoon, and found that the street where my lodgings were located, Recorder Road, was only a short walk away. Upon arriving, however, I was disappointed to find that my room was not quite ready. 'Oh dear,' said the landlady, a thin woman with a pale, scratchy complexion. She was trembling, I noticed, although it was not cold, and wringing her hands nervously. She was tall, too. The type of woman who stands out in a crowd for her unexpected stature. 'I'm afraid we owe you an apology, Mr Sadler. We've been at sixes and sevens all day. I don't quite know how to explain what's happened.' 'I did write, Mrs Cantwell,' I said, trying to soften the note of irritation that was creeping into my tone. 'I said I would be here shortly after five. And it's gone six now.' I nodded in the direction of the grandfather clock that stood in the corner behind her desk. 'I don't mean to be awkward, but--' 'You're not being awkward at all, sir,' she replied quickly. 'The room should have been ready for you hours ago, only . . .' She trailed off and her forehead wrinkled into a series of deep grooves as she bit her lip and turned away; she seemed unable to look me in the eye. 'We had a bit of unpleasantness this morning, Mr Sadler, that's the truth of it. In your room. Or what was to be your room, that is. You probably won't want it now. I know I shouldn't. I don't know what I'll do with it, honestly I don't. It's not as if I can afford to leave it unlet.' Her agitation was obvious, and despite my mind being more or less focused on my plans for the following day, I was concerned for her and was about to ask whether there was anything I could do to help when a door opened behind her and she spun around. A boy of about seventeen appeared, whom I took to be her son: he had a look of her around the eyes and mouth, although his complexion was worse, scarred as he was by the acne of his age. He stopped short, taking me in for a moment, before turning to his mother in frustration. 'I told you to call me when the gentleman arrived, didn't I?' he said, glaring at her. 'But he's only just arrived this minute, David,' she protested. 'It's true,' I said, feeling a curious urge to jump to her defence. 'I did.' 'But you didn't call me,' he insisted to his mother. 'What have you told him, anyway?' 'I haven't told him anything yet,' she said, turning back to me with an expression that suggested she might cry if she was bullied any longer. 'I didn't know what to say.' 'I do apologize, Mr Sadler,' he said, turning to me now with a complicit smile, as if to imply that he and I were of a type who understood that nothing would go right in the world if we did not take it out of the hands of women and look after it ourselves. 'I had hoped to be here to greet you myself. I asked Ma to tell me the moment you arrived. We expected you earlier, I think.' Excerpted from The Absolutist by John Boyne All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

This award-winning Irish author (The Boy in Striped Pyjamas) has written a most English book. In 1919, young Tristan Sadler, a recovering veteran of World War I, travels by train to Norwich to return some letters to the sister of regiment mate Will Bancroft, who was killed in combat. Readers looking forward- to refined conversation over tea as the two lament his death are in for an uncomfortable shock, as alternating lengthy chapters descend into the hell of a war not well remembered now: the mud, lice, and rats in the subterranean trenches, to say nothing of the carnage in meaningless battles. Tristan struggles with huge secrets. One is his homosexuality, which, in early 20th-century fashion, is not named outright. The other is Will's ultimate fate, brought about as the understaffed British troops arguably go mad under the pressures of war. VERDICT A thought-provoking and surprising page-turner that for some readers may recall Ian McEwan's Atonement, another novel with themes of war and recrimination.-Reba Leiding-, James Madison Univ. Libs., Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Boyne's new novel documents the lives of two inseparable men navigating the trenches of WWI and the ramifications of a taboo involvement. The emotive wartime saga is narrated by Tristan Sadler, a soldier en route to visit his dead comrade Will Bancroft's older sister Marian in Norwich, England, a few years after serving in the Great War. The story oscillates between Sadler's trip in 1919 to return Will's letters to Marian, and recollections of wartime, including a forbidden and fleeting homosexual affair with Bancroft, depicted by Boyne with the same polite, properly delicate prose that permeates the book. Bancroft is the self-declared "absolutist" of the title, objecting not only to fighting, but to doing anything at all that would "further the war effort." Sadler's feelings for Bancroft bring him shame amid the horrors of battle, eventually making an absolutist of Sadler as well. When the young Sadler confides the details of his time with Bancroft to Marian, she rejects him, a reaction echoed 60 years later, by which time Sadler has come into his own as a literary sensation. Once again he braves Marian's disapproval, inciting a final heartbreak. A relentlessly tragic yet beautifully crafted novel from Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas). Agent: Bonnie Nadell, Hill Nadell Literary Agency. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Book Review

A novel set in the trenches of World War I, one of several by Irish author Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, 2006, etc.) staged amid the 20th century's worst moments. As the story opens, Tristan Sadler, who has just turned 21, is in the countryside north of London, looking to deliver a packet of letters from a wartime friend, Will Bancroft, to Will's sister. Sadler is at once shattered and defiant: He has survived the horrors of the Western Front, one of just two boys--and boys most of them were--in his basic training unit to make it out alive. As for the rest: Well, Boyne honors convention by giving each soldier a turn in the spotlight, sometimes briefly, sometimes for symbolic purposes. One is killed off fairly early on in the proceedings, but not before he has had the chance to trouble the unit with doubts about just what this war among royal cousins is all about. In time, the seditious spirit will spread to Will, who, for complex and subtle reasons, has decided to become an "absolutist"--that is, to have absolutely no part in the war effort, not even as a stretcher bearer. That's the kind of thing that can get a fellow in trouble in the king's army--and so, too, the forbidden love that Will and Tristan share. If Will is an absolutist, then Tristan is a situationist; when Will asks him whether he has any principles, he replies, "No. ... People, perhaps. But not principles. What good are they?" Some of the key moments of the book--notably an encounter with a frightened German soldier--are very effective. ]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.