The Boy I Love
A tangled web of love and betrayal develops when war hero Paul returns from the trenches. He finds himself torn between desire and duty, his lover Adam awaits but so too does Margot, the pregnant fiancée of his dead brother. Set in a time when homosexuality was the love that dare not speak its name, Paul has to decide where his loyalty and his heart lie.
DEBBIE TAYLOR, Founder, Mslexia magazine
A vivid and accomplished debut; Marion Husband explores the morality of wartime Britain with intelligent and compassionate insight.
JACK CLOTHIER, www.gwales.com
Reproduced with the permission of the Welsh Books Council, Saturday April 15, 2006
Set in the socially tempestuous aftermath of World War I, and full of early twentieth-century taboos, love and betrayal, Marion Husband's award-winning debut novel is a passionately written and thought-provoking affair. Protagonist Paul Harris, a homosexual soldier fated to marry the fiancée of his dead brother through loyalty, is a deeply tender character drifting into a world he cannot love.
Forced to hide his true desires for his sometime lover and former sergeant, Adam, now a butcher, the difficulties that one can only imagine were faced in the post war period by ex-soldiers are laid out sensitively. By no means a 'fully wronged' man, Paul, like the other characters, has his emotional and physical frailties, and rather than force any one point of view on her reader, Marion Husband calmly portrays a balanced narrative allowing the readers to make up their own minds.
Through the vivid flashbacks the author highlights the contrasts between events lived and living, and in the sweat, tears and anger of war the same passions rumble with a whole different form of expression. Allowing the characters to develop in effortless prose with a series of graphic sex scenes and realistic dialect, 'the love that dare not speak its name' is explored with true feeling and passionate lust.
What really struck me about this novel was the difficulty I found in putting it down, as I was gripped by its intricate romantic plotline and compact cast of memorable and contrasting characters. Complicated issues are tackled with great sensitivity while the storyline bounds along at a pace, and whether it is reflecting on the moral quandary of society's prejudice only a few generations ago, or indulging in classic romance, there is something here for everyone.
LOVEREADING UK BOOKGROUP - www.lovereading.co.uk
This is an incredibly thought-provoking novel set just after WW1 where a man had to hide his true desires of homosexuality behind what you might call a marriage of convenience. It’s superbly written with wonderfully captivating characters. By turns compassionate and sensitive, compelling and gripping, vivid and accomplished, its intricate romantic plotlines are told with rare brilliance. A real page turner and wonderfully accessible too and it’s the sort of book you can spend hours discussing with friends on the whys and wherefores of one of THE taboos of the early part of the 20th century.
ERASTES LIVE JOURNAL - http://erastes.livejournal.com
I devoured this book. It was like comfort food. English to the core and had (for me) the same effect as scoffing steak and kidney pudding. I wallowed.
What I loved about this was the frank and bleak look at men returning from the trenches. None of them are whole, Paul's eye was "dug out by a rusty spoon" and he still wakes up screaming with shellshock, Mick (Pat's brother) has lost his legs, Adam was "unfit for service", and most families in the town have lost someone, but still - it's a very English novel, with the world moving on, people drinking tea and getting quietly on with their lives. The country is changing, women are working, women are smoking, women are going out when pregnant! (Another nice touch about this book is that there are women characters who resonate and aren't just there for decoration or to be The Bitch.)
The author is deft and skilful in the way the story unfolds - which is told partly in flashback. There's a mystery at the heart of the book too; we are told that something happened to Paul in the trenches (other than the normal!); something involving a man called Jenkins and it takes the book to unravel what happens whilst still coping with about six different plotlines. Impressive.
COMMENTS FROM AMAZON READERS:
"WOW! This is the only word that comes to mind. If you are looking for FANTASTIC then this is the book for you. Never having written or wanting to write a review I felt compelled to let other people know what a gem this book is. I have just finished the sequel and it is just as good.(If not better). Others have written what to expect so I won't say it again but the story flows like smooth silk sheets. Even the graphic accounts of war are handled with grace, as are the love, duty and honour. Paul, Patrick, Mick, Margot and even Adam will remain with me forever."
"This is the kind of novel that books clubs, and anyone who likes a good story, will love. It is accessible, easy to read and a page turner, but as well as that it raises questions. This is a book about complex desires and needs, set in a time that does not accept relationships that are anything other than the norm. Complicated issues are tackled with great sensitivity and insight in what turns out to be a romance with a difference. Thoroughly recommended!
"Having previously read Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, Strange Meeting by Susan Hill and In the Absence of Men by Phillipe Besson and thoroughly enjoyed all, I ordered this book with great expectations. I was not disappointed. I could not put this book down as once the character of Patrick was introduced, I felt myself wishing him to 'succeed'. The flashbacks to the time in the trenches was vivid and graphic, as it should be for a novel of WW1, but at the same time allowed the development of the characters and their past interactions to be explained."