TITLE: THE ABSOLUTIST
AUTHOR: JOHN BOYNE
This is not a happy or an uplifting story. It is however beautifully written and heartbreakingly human.
The story in this book is narrated by Tristan Sadler.
In September 1919 he travels from London to Norwich to deliver letters to Marian Bancroft. During the First World War Tristan trained and fought alongside her brother, Will and during that time they became friends.
From the start it is clear that Tristan is troubled about meeting Marian and unsure how much he will end up tell her about what preceded Will's decision to lay down his arms in 1917 which ultimately lead to him being shot as a traitor.
The story goes back and forth between Tristan's meeting with Marian and the time when he was training to be send to the front and the subsequent horror in the trenches, all the time leading up to the dramatic climax of Will's execution.
This is a story of the horrors of war. But it is also the story of friendship, an unacceptable love, betrayal and guilt. It is a beautiful tale of what it means to be human and the price we pay for giving in to our emotions.
I don't want to say too much because I don't want to give away the plot. I will say though that this story stayed with me after I finished reading the book. I even found myself waking up in the middle of the night thinking about the story.
The reason this book rates 4.5 stars rather than 5 has less to do with the quality of the writing or the depth of the story than it has with my need for a happier ending. This is a very memorable novel.