Read The Absolutist by John Boyne Online


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 recIt 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....

Title : The Absolutist
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781590515525
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 309 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Absolutist Reviews

  • Elyse
    2019-01-27 01:29

    Phenomenal!!!!! The nitty-gritty-reality..of what frickin war can can do - and not do--oh how I LOVE JOHN BOYNE!!! My God... I had NO IDEA what I would discover when I started reading this AMAZING NOVEL...storytelling that is sooooo good!!!-- - so much I wish to say. I'm completely SPENT....EVERY EMOTION triggered!!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!!

  • B the BookAddict
    2019-02-05 04:36

    In his usual understated and deft manner, John Boyne has written a WWI story that is very different from all the others in this genre.Two young men, Sadler and Bancroft, train in the army together in England and are dispatched to the fields of Flanders in the same squad. They share a secret and taboo friendship that must remain hidden. But then a shocking case of barbarity by one of their squad finds the two friends on opposing sides of belief. One will find himself with an unthinkable task. One will survive and the other will perish under the most irregular of circumstances. Sadler, the survivor, comes home to fulfil a promise he has made to his friend. He will recount their experiences when he meets Bancroft’s sister for an afternoon in 1919; an intense and uncomfortable few hours which brings no balm to either of them. The manner of Bancroft’s death will haunt Sadler for all of his life. Ultimately, he keeps a promise to himself in an ending to the story that will sucker-punch the reader caught completely unaware of his intention.How fortunate for any reader that the most talented of writers today, John Boyne, has decided to tell a story; one, probably of many, which usually remains hidden from the world’s view of WWI.“A story of immeasurable sadness…” John IrvingThe book is going to have an enormous impact on everyone who reads it.” Colm TóibínMost Highly Recommended 5★

  • Larry H
    2019-02-19 02:21

    Tristan Sadler, newly 21, travels to Norwich from his London home to take care of an errand he is dreading. He has promised to deliver a sheaf of letters his friend Will Bancroft received while they fought together during World War I to Will's sister. And while this errand dredges up memories of the fighting and the deaths that Tristan would rather not remember, it also forces him to confront his feelings, his actions, and the direction the rest of his life is going to take.Spending the day with Will's outspoken sister, Marian, as she deals with the frustration and sadness talking about her brother even three years after his death, serves as both a catharsis and a source of great pain and anxiety for Tristan. But in the end, he has the opportunity to unburden his soul of things he has kept hidden for the three years since Will's death, although doing so may not provide the relief he desperately needs.To say that this book devastated me is an understatement. It is easily one of the most beautifully written, emotionally gripping books I've read this year, and perhaps in some time. John Boyne's storytelling in this book reminds me a little of E.M. Forster—Maurice in particular—and as the book moved toward a conclusion I feared, I couldn't tear myself away yet I didn't want the story to unfold and, ultimately, end. This is a book about relationships, betrayal, courage, and standing up for yourself and your beliefs. This is an almost poetic novel I won't soon forget, although definitely one that doesn't necessarily fill you with happiness and hope. Truly one of the best books I've read all year.

  • Dem
    2019-02-02 00:26

    I really enjoyed this novel and found it an emotional read. While reading this book I exclaimed out loud and cried and for me this is the basis on which I award 5 stars, I try to write a review on a novel as soon as I can after putting the book down as I like my review to express my feelings of the book when I closed the covers be that good bad or indifferent. The absolutist had me so emotionally charged that I was thinking about the story even when I was not reading it. The Absolutist is a wartime story and deals with the relationship between two young soldiers Tristan and Will. The story is narrated by Tristan. I loved the characters in this novel and felt that they were very well written. I first came across the subject and storyline of this novel in a wonderful book called Michael Morpurgo and have since been very interested in the subject. I love the flow of the Absolutist and think this is a very touching story very simply told I dont want to write too much about this story as I think its a book you have to read for yourself, I have readby John boyne and it was for me just an ok read however his book I absolutely loved. For me this book was a real page turner and a great story.

  • Saleh MoonWalker
    2019-02-04 01:28

    Onvan : The Absolutist - Nevisande : John Boyne - ISBN : 1590515528 - ISBN13 : 9781590515525 - Dar 309 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2011

  • Erastes
    2019-02-18 07:25

    I was immediately drawn to the book because it’s partly set in my stamping ground of Norfolk. The protagonist Tristan is on his way to Norwich at the beginning to meet a mysterious someone or other which is nicely protracted until it needs to be revealed. There’s a irritating and lengthy section in his boarding house which achieved nothing other than to tell the reader “oh no, homosexuality is verboten in England” as if they wouldn’t know and “people don’t like it” which of course they know too. It all serves to hint that, “hello readers, Tristan might be a homosexual” which was a bit heavy handed.I enjoyed the story being told–it’s told in two major time frames, that of Tristan in the present, in Norwich and what transpires there and because of that–and Tristan in the past, going through basic training at Aldershot and then shipping to France. It also dips into other flashbacks here and there. I found the tenses annoying, but that’s probably because–again–I thought it unnecessary and rather self-conscious for the author to have past tense in the present section and then present tense in the past section. It wasn’t confusing, it just struck me as “author being authory.” Personally, the more immediate time line would seem more natural to be present tense, but what do I know.As for the book in general, it wasn’t mind-blowing. For the most part it read no better and no worse than most gay historicals that I read for this blog. The ARC I had from NetGalley didn’t have the author’s name on it so it wasn’t until I finished it that I sought out the publisher and then the author. Firstly I was gobsmacked that it was published by Doubleday and I thought “surely I would have heard if someone I knew had got such a prestigious publisher?” because I thought it must have been written by someone I knew, or knew of. It wasn’t until I went further that I found it was by Boyne, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.This did amuse me because I had judged the book without knowing that the author was famous. And frankly, you can’t tell. It’s had (I have since seen, as I don’t allow myself to look at reviews until after I’ve read a book) some amazing reviews but I wouldn’t call the book amazing. It’s a good read, absorbing, interesting etc, but for someone well-versed in gay historicals, you won’t find anything particularly new here, and if Doubleday are publishing this, then they certainly should be publishing Heidi Cullinan and Jessica Faraday, Alex Beecroft and many others, people who are writing fresher material. It’s not a bad story, it’s just nothing new.The protagonists are all nicely bonkers, in as much as they deny their feelings left right and centre and act irrationally at every given opportunity but that’s simply par for the course, particularly for something set at this time and place. Although I do understand a desperate gay man’s desire for companionship, particularly in a world where this is hard to achieve, I found it difficult to believe in Tristan’s clinging loyal affection when Will is such a self-deluded nasty piece of work, using Tristan for his own selfish ends, and then not only dropping him but cutting him out of his life so completely. There comes a point where you know that Tristan has lost faith in everything: the government, the war–all he knows exists is this particular moment of horror which leads on to the next one and I thought “yes! now he’ll tell Will to drop dead” but it never really happened.Boyne writes very cinematically–which probably explains why his books are optioned by Hollywood–and the description and research is lightly done, but with just enough detail to anchor you entirely to a place. You see what the protagonist sees, you eat and drink what he does, and it’s not done in a “got to fill in four pages here, let’s have some tea” kind of way.Some of the dialogue is annoyingly modern and deeply anachronistic e.g. “We were an item” and “teenager” which was quite jarring, and the characters all speak each others names all the time which an editor really should have lessened as people just don’t do that. There’s a smidge of overwriting here and there with conversations dragged out to the point when I shouted “oh for God’s sake, he’s told you that already!” One of these however is deliberate (I’m pretty sure, as Tristan denies his close friendship with Will three times to his superior officer and it rather smacked of Gethsemane and it was then I knew how the book was going to end.The secondary flash back, which deals with Tristan’s first love, Peter, is rather confusing. We are introduced to Peter as being a very early childhood friend, and then to Sybil, the Yoko to their John and Paul, and it’s all a bit skated over–I don’t know if this is because this is a mainstream publisher, but this is the first indication that Tristan is homosexual and I was left thinking “what?” after I read it.As my sixteenth birthday approached I grew more tormented. My feelings towards Peter had clarified themselves in my head by now—I recognized them for what they were—and they were only amplified by my inability to verbalize or act upon them. I would lie in bed at night, curled into a tight ball, half encouraging the most lurid fantasies to energize the dark hours, half desperate to dismiss them out of pure fear of what they implied.Which is all very well, but this is literally the first time any feelings for Peter have been mentioned, in fact, Peter has not been introduced other than as “the reason Tristan left home.” We are told that they were friends from the cradle, and two pages later, we have this “I recognized them for what they were.” It would have been less rushed if we’d been allowed to see the affections changing from boyhood chums to love from Tristan’s perspective. This smacks rather of coding–if you weren’t aware of what he’s on about it’s possible you could misunderstand, although unlikely. It’s just that coded sexuality belongs to another century, not this one. Plus this boy is fifteen, I’d like to know what these feelings mean to him, but we aren’t shown that either. In a world where there would be nothing but negative implications to discover you were homosexual you’d think he’d be a bit more disturbed.He’s not a Gary-Stu exactly, but I do think that the author has imbued him with a lot more maturity and knowledge than perhaps he would have had in real life. He was born in a flat in Chiswick and his father was a butcher. Therefore he couldn’t have gone to any really decent school, and he was forced to leave his school at sixteen anyway, so his education is woefully incomplete. He went to work on a builder’s site until he was 17 – so about a year. As the book begins he’s twenty but he thinks and speaks with the deep sophistication of a thirty year old Oxbridge graduate discussing morality and philosophy with all and sundry. He’s working for a publishers, who took him on after the war. This rather baffled me because where did he get the education for that?It’s most definitely not a romance, and I’m afraid that the ending left me pretty cold. I didn’t even well up over it because although Tristan calls Will “his lover” there’s no way in earth anyone else but Tristan could have labelled him thusly. Tristan then eschews ALL human contact from then on, and lives 60 odd years all alone and martyred and frankly I wanted to bop him one on the nose.I think that a gay historical these days can reflect more than self-loathing, and although what happened to Will was tragic (and I should stress that, as expected, the war sections are all tragic and horrible and well written) I found the whole “I’m gay and so I shall never touch another man for the rest of the my life” thing tired and trite. And rather last century.But all in all–although it was nothing much to write home about, it kept me reading, and although I know it was pretty pointless, I wished Tristan well. But if I had known who it was by and who published it before I’d read it, I probably would have expected something a lot better, and not so old-fashioned in terms of dead, suffering gays.

  • Carol
    2019-01-25 06:43

    My enjoyment of The Absolutist took me by surprise. I honestly wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. So much for preconceived notions. The Absolutist is a war story, one that takes place during World War I, not one of my favorite subjects. But this one is so well written and poignant that it caught my attention immediately and kept me turning those pages, even when I couldn't bear the outcome. The opening scenes give us a glimpse of Tristan Sadler, a young war-weary soldier as he returns to London, trying to regain a normal life as he begins a job in publishing. Sadler has experienced some horrid things in his stint of duty in France. Many of his unit have not been as fortunate as he to make the journey home. One of these, his best friend Will Bancroft is a casualty, one that has a story quite different than others who share Sadler's muddy trenches. On arriving home, Sadler has letters that Will received from his sister Mary and Sadler feels compelled to return them to her. What at first seems a simple plan turns out to be so much more. The return of the letters is the vehicle in which we, the reader, learn the secrets and truth of Tristan and Will's friendship and leaves us with questions about this bound. Their story will stay with me. It's haunting, gut wrenching, tragic, and brought me to tears. I won't tell you more as I always feel it's better to allow you to discover for yourself. There are some beautiful passages in this story of young men and war. I found myself highlighting many. In this scene Tristan is to be examined by a doctor in the medical tent. Tristan's description of the them is exquisite, packing a wallop and reminding us that these are just kids, plucked early from their carefree youth to fight this war. "I look away embarrassed, but it doesn’t do much good, for everywhere I look the other members of my troop, those sitting on the beds at least, have also stripped down to the altogether, revealing a set of malformed, misshapen and startlingly unattractive bodies. These are young men of no less than eighteen and no more than twenty, and it surprises me that they are for the most part so undernourished and pale. Sparrow chests, thin bellies, loose buttocks are on display wherever I look, except for one or two chaps who are at the other end of the extreme, overweight and corpulent., thick flabs of fat hanging around their chests like breasts."My sincere thanks go to Paul Kozlowski, Associate Publisher at Other Press for recommending this to me. I met Paul at The Books On the Nightstand Booktopia 2012 in Manchester, Vermont and asked him what he'd suggest I'd read from his house. Absolutist, perfect title; not a word that I could define at the start, not a word I'll soon forget.

  • Vitor Martins
    2019-02-01 01:33

    4.5Essa é uma história bonita e ao mesmo tempo muito triste. Na maior parte do tempo ela é só triste. Mas triste de um jeito bonito, entende?Aqui a gente vai conhecer a história de Trista, um soldado na Primeira Guerra, que acaba se apaixonando por outro soldado e tem que lidar com o sofrimento de ser gay numa época em que nem existia isso de "ser gay". Você só era uma aberração e olhe lá. Daí junto com esse drama todo existe uma GUERRA acontecendo e muita gente morrendo e você tem uma história perfeita para te dar um soco no estômago. Acho incrível como o John Boyne consegue passar em sua escrita o desespero de se estar em um campo de batalha. A narrativa é muito forte e cada parágrafo é um impacto. Assim como em Fique onde está e então corra (que também é excelente!), o John Boyne aborda temas variados e originais. Mas como O Pacifista é um romance adulto, aqui temos um aprofundamento maior da dor da guerra e as cenas são bem mais gráficas.Eu tive alguns probleminhas para gostar do protagonista. Fiquei durante o livro inteiro com um pé atrás. Mas quando a história terminou e tudo fez sentido, eu consegui entender os motivos de Tristan. Senti uma mistura de pena e alívio, e uma lágrima escorreu quando fechei a última página.

  • Darlene
    2019-02-06 05:30

    I came across this book by chance. I picked it up and while reading the inside cover, I realized that the author, John Boyne, is also the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.... a book, which although seems controversial from reviewers' points of view, was one I really loved. This story takes place during the Great War and the time immediately after the war ends. War veteran Tristan Sadler, who is 20 years old in the fall of 1919, takes a train from his home in London to Norwich to deliver a package to the sister of a soldier he fought beside in northern France. The package Tristan is delivering is a collection of letters written to Will Bancroft from his sister Marian during the war; but as we come to learn , this trip is much more than just a courtesy call. Tristan is burdened with a secret... a terrible secret he has been carrying along with tremendous guilt over the part he played in Will's death. This story is told alternately through Tristan's recollections of the past and events occurring in present time. Through Tristan's memories, we learn that he met Will on the train to their basic training in Aldershot and the two immediately struck up a friendship. Although they were from different backgrounds and led very different lives, they developed an instant camaraderie ; but honestly, there was much more under the surface of their friendship.. much that was hinted at, even if not explicitly presented. There was an attraction between the two and the intensity of that attraction between Tristan and Will is ultimately at the heart of what happens to them.On one level. The Absolutist is a war story.... complete with the elements found in every war story.... uncomfortable and even intolerable physical challenges and discomfort, inadequate supplies, demoralization of the men fighting and the inevitable struggle to maintain some sense of what they are actually fighting FOR. But on another level, this is simply the story of two young men and their very important struggle to come to terms with their identities on a very basic level. With Tristan, we get the sense that he has accepted his sexual identity but struggles with what it will mean for his life in the future. With Will... well, it is much less clear... on the one hand, Will seems to be in denial of his sexual identity and yet on the other hand, he seems, at times, eager to explore the feelings he has for Tristan. The conflict Will experiences, although perhaps not intentional, sends Tristan on an emotional roller coaster... happiness one second and in the depths of despair and confusion the next.In addition to experiencing confusion over his sexual identity, Will also struggles with another moral dilemma... a dilemma over continuing to fight in the war. Will has come to the decision that he can no longer morally support the war and the killing of other human beings... he lays down his weapons and refuses to fight... knowing that this action will be viewed as treason and he will most likely be executed. There is one final scene which plays out between Tristan and Will and the events which unfold will lead not only to Will's death ... but also to the grief and guilt which leave Tristan unable to find peace.It is this story which is at the heart of Tristan's visit to Marian... he wishes to share his guilt with her. What is never really clear to me is what he expects to receive from Marian... is it her understanding? Compassion? Forgiveness?Perhaps her anger? Or is it that he hopes to gain a better understanding of Will from the sister who was so close to him? Perhaps in the end, it was all of those things and maybe a desire to reassure Marian that her brother , in the end, had not displayed cowardice ..... but instead courage.To see how it all turns out, you will have to read the book. Of course, I found this story to be a profoundly sad one. It is tragic, indeed, when people are not accepted for or allowed to be who they are. And I find that the real irony in having Tristan and Will's story play out against the backdrop of war is that wars are so often proclaimed to be fought over freedom and yet.... the very individuals in this story engaged in battle are not, themselves, truly free.To me, this was a coming-of-age story.. albeit one which played out against the backdrop of World War I. It raised some serious moral questions to be contemplated. This was a very compelling story and one which I highly recommend.

  • Ryan
    2019-02-09 07:24

    There aren't a lot of books that can break my heart. No matter how much I'm able to connect with the characters or find myself lost in the action, I don't make a habit of emotionally investing myself on such a visceral level. It's not something I make a conscience decision on, I just read so much that if I allowed myself to put my emotions into every book I read, I would be a basket case. But every once in a while, I can't help myself. I allow myself to fully invest in what I'm reading. I get so involved in the character's lives that I'm not able to keep those walls up. The Absolutist, is one of those cases.I've been trying to figure out what I can say about this book, without giving way too much away, but get everyone who reads this to read the book for themselves. I know one of the central themes of this book is how war can change and solidify personal beliefs and what those beliefs can lead too. This book, in stark terms, examines what can happen when certain beliefs run in the face of what is expected of a soldier in battle. I may not be wording this right, but I think it's a pretty important idea to explore in the face of what's been going on over the last 11 years. It's the more personal face of the story that moved me the most though. More than anything else, this is a story about Tristan and Will. Granted it's told through the eyes of Tristan, but I think he gives a pretty accurate account of the events that lead up to that unbearable pain mentioned in the synopsis. I don't think he pulls any punches or makes any excuses for his actions, though it may have been nice to have had Will's reasoning for his own behavior towards Tristan and for his final act that sets the course for the rest of the book. I can pretty much tell you in one word the motivating factor for most of what happens, fear. Fear of the unknown, but more importantly, fear of self. It's the fear of allowing yourself to be who and what you are, that sets everything else into motion. Neither one of these men can fully accept or deal with what they are feeling or what they did as a result. It's the waste of life, both physical and emotional, that moved me in a way few books can manage. It's what happens to both these men as a result of fear that broke my heart and forced me to think of the what might have beens in my own life. It's not a reaction I want to have from every book I read, but when it does happen, I'm grateful for it.

  • Carol
    2019-02-05 07:39

    John Boyne brings the muddy trenches of WWI to life as twenty-one year old Tristan Sadler narrates the story of his young life and personal friendship with Will Bancroft. This unforgettable story has much sadness and heartbreak as Tristan unleashes his whopper of a secret, but OMGOSH, what a page-turner complete with vivid descriptions of the horrors of war and a horror of a father.This is my third JB novel and definitely won't be my last. The powerful ending made it a 5 star read for me.

  • Chrissie
    2019-02-18 00:34

    The author draws the First World War’s trench warfare with a deft hand. We are in the trenches of Picardy, France. The second theme is the taint of homosexuality as viewed by people of this time. Here the setting is Chiswick and Norwich, England. The third theme is opposition to the war – pacifism versus staunch patriotism. To be labeled as a featherman, conscientious objector or absolutists was to be scorned by all. Absolutists were those who would in no way involve themselves with war, not even as stretcher-bearers. Feathermen and conscientious objectors were given jobs as stretcher-bearers, which was very dangerous indeed. In “no man’s land” picking up the dead, they became easy targets. Both “feathermen” and “absolutists” are terms I have never come across before. Are these words invented by the author? Search on the net gave me no clue!Those are the themes of this book. It is a grueling read, but accurately describes warfare in the trenches of WW1. The telling switches primarily between two time periods, in 1919 after the Armistice when Tristan Sadler is returning letters sent to a dead comrade, and fighting in the trenches. Additional flashbacks are used to fill us in on Tristan’s sexual awakening and troubled family relations. I believe this was meant to pique our curiosity and to add an element of mystery. For me this simply made me confused and delayed the empathy I finally came to feel for the central character. How could I feel empathy until I fully understood what had occurred?! The beginning is tedious. In a long-winded manner it tells us how homosexuality was looked upon at the time of the First World War. The book concludes when Sadler is eighty–one years old. We are told what he has done with his life and we hear of his regrets. Michael Maloney narrates the audiobook. It is well narrated, but I would have preferred less dramatization. He reads faster and faster to increase suspense. I suppose others want exactly this. It is easy to follow, so I have no serious complaint. Here is the book in one sentence, but it is a spoiler: (view spoiler)[I am shot for being a coward. You get to live as one.(hide spoiler)] It is a very good line, a line found within the book. This is a book about cowardice and about bravery. It is good, but it could have been better. I recommend these books: -All Quiet on the Western Front-The Backwash of War: The Human Wreckage of the Battlefield as Witnessed by an American Hospital Nurse-Giovanni's RoomAll of these I gave five stars.

  • Miles
    2019-01-28 05:45

    How does one begin to review “The Absolutist” by John Boyne? To say I am, forgive me while I use a World War one descriptive, shell shocked, would be an understatement. Sitting quietly in the corner of the living room merely an hour after finishing the book, subdued lighting my only company and a book jacket design I find hard to tear myself from, I gorge in its simplicity, its effectiveness, its evocativeness. Breath-taking. The British Army, by the end of “The Great War”, had dealt with 80,000 cases of shell shock – a severe and debilitating trauma by any measure.September 1919: twenty-one-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 he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, he speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him both happiness and self-discovery as well as despair and pain.The Absolutist is 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.Set across six parts, the book looks back at two very short time periods - 1916 and 1919 - and it’s only in the concluding part do we gain closure in Thatcher’s memorable 1979. Each part weighs in at approximately 50 pages and it took me a while to realise the book was devoid of chapters. That said, I do wonder if the addition of breaks and chapters within each part would have had a detrimental effect on the rhythm – I rather believe it would have for –although unusual – I never felt the need for an interlude. Page after page would scurry on by and before I knew it I was half way through the book, eager as I was to find out what would happen to the protagonist.Full review on my blog:-

  • Sandy (CA)
    2019-02-05 06:40

    I motored through this book much more quickly than I usually read a novel. The story was compelling; the dialogue moved me along quickly. Off the top of my head, I can say that the book was not "enjoyable" -- but considering the subject matter, it was probably not meant to be. I didn't "like" the characters. Liking or not liking them was not the point. They were all human beings, dealing with a variety of stresses. How could they be likeable? Life was a struggle. Life was hell. The point is that they seemed real.Novels about World War One affect me very personally. After the death of my father's last living sibling in 1998, I discovered a cache of family photos and letters written during the Second World War which helped me to unlock my father's previously-unknown family history. Among my dad's first cousins was an English family of 13 children, 8 of whom were men who all served in World War One. Four of them died during the war; others lived on with the various wounds, emotional and physical, common among WWI vets. One of the four who died had emigrated to Canada in 1908, and for that reason I feel a special kinship with him. He served his homeland by volunteering to serve in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. I was able, from his file at the National Archives in Ottawa, to learn many details about his military service. It is a tragic story, as so many are, and when I read a novel such as this one, I imagine what his three years in the trenches must have been and it makes me want to cry. I do cry.So, speaking from the gut, I can say that this is an important book for me personally. Having just finished reading it, I cannot say more. The emotions are too close to the surface.

  • Cher
    2019-02-07 06:36

    4 stars - It was great. I loved it. John Boyne is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I found this novel to be evocative and thought-provoking. And while it is certainly a despondent read as well, never so much so that the reader hesitates to pick it back up. I found myself thinking of the characters while not reading it - always a great sign. Coincidentally, it was a very fitting selection for a Memorial Day weekend. God bless our soldiers across the world, but especially those souls that fought for their countries face to face in brutal trenches. -------------------------------------------Favorite Quote: I think I'm just breathing, that's all. And there's a difference between breathing and being alive.First Sentence: 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.

  • Cynthia
    2019-01-21 04:32

    Yes or No?It sounds over simplistic but much of life's choices do come down to a yes or a no. Some things are non-negotiable. Our hero, Tristan Sadler, knows who he is, he's always known. His problem is how others react to that. Though it's a gift that he's become clear about his values he still has to fit into the world and he has a sincere desire to connect with others. "The Absolutist" is a coming of age story set against the First World War. This might sound dated but Tristan's dilemmas are timeless. We're still wrestling with human dignity, respect for others, the morality or immorality of war, and who should fight both the wars and resolve social issues.Tristan leaves home at 16 after he and his parents have a bitter argument. He does what he can to support himself that first year, then at 17 he lies about his age in order to enlist in the Army. During basic training he meets new people and becomes best friends with a Norwich man named Will Bancroft, a vicar's son who's only a year older than him. Will and Tristan both grapple with a fellow soldier's conscientious objector stance. This fellow is scorned by the officers and the other recruits and to a lesser extent even Tristan scorns him. Will is not so hasty. He befriends the objector and begins to be swayed by his doubts. Then all the boys head to France and the hell of war. They live with constant fear and grasp for shreds of humanity wherever they can find it.Boyne's affecting book begins and ends with Tristan's meeting with Will's sister Marian. Together they attempt to thrash out their versions of morality and truth. They also help one another work through how to love and who to love. This is a melancholy tale but it's not morose. Boyne's world has hope if only in the form learning to cope, to survive. The title, "The Absolutist", is apt Boyne shine's light in dark places, he shows the grays as well as the blacks and whites. His characters are individuals but they're also representations of larger social issues. The story pivots between the recent past and present of the First World War with a short coda in the late 1970's. At the end of the lives both Tristan and Marian still have doubts about their choices. This period in our history was harsh. Boyne shows some poignant parallels with our present. I have no idea how I've overlooked this fine author for so long. With "The Absolutist" I'm a convert.This review is based on an e-galley provided by the publisher.4.5/5 stars

  • Rachel
    2019-01-31 05:21

    The Absolutist is a tender and harrowing exploration of love, betrayal, bravery, and cowardice, set in the trenches in France during World War I. The story begins in 1919, with twenty-one-year-old Tristan Sadler making a trip to Norwich to deliver some letters to the sister of a man who had died in the war, Will Bancroft. Through a series of flashbacks, Boyne explores the relationship between Tristan and Will, and while it's clear from the beginning that there isn't going to be a happy ending, it ended up being even more devastating than I had expected. This book ripped my heart out, so naturally, I loved it.Tristan Sadler is everything I could want from a narrator - complex, sympathetic, flawed, and seeking atonement, and though his guilt is present from the first page, it isn't until you're deep into the story that you really understand the extent of it. Tristan's struggle with his identity as a gay man provides the novel with its central conflict, which Boyne addresses with sensitivity and nuance.Boyne's prose is understated and compelling, as he deftly weaves together this complex tale, whose barely-300-pages belies its thematic richness. From the synopsis I was expecting a rather cut and dry love story, but the reality of this novel is more intricate and unexpected, and a lot sadder.This is only the second John Boyne novel I've read after The Heart's Invisible Furies, but both left me awestruck, devastated, and wanting to pick up another Boyne novel immediately. The Absolutist and its characters will haunt me.

  • Susan
    2019-01-20 06:40

    The Absolutist is a beautifully written heart wrenching story set in the midst of World War 1. The story is Tristan Sandler's, a boy who at 17 1/2 years old lies about his age to enlist in the army to fight Germany and who's life is altered forever by his experiences. Tristan meets Will Bancroft in bootcamp and their relationship becomes Tristan's anchor and his torment throughout his time fighting in trenches in France. After the war and some years later, Tristan meets Will's sister and has the chance to finally disclose all of the tragedies of his time at war to someone as well as the details of his relationship with Will. This is a story of courage, fear, love, integrity, honor and conflict - emotional and political. It illustrates through first hand accounts of the human experience how brave men driven by honor and tradition become numb to the horrors around them and of their own actions for the sake of "doing their duty" and, ultimately, for their own survival. This is my first book by John Boyne and it will not be my last. He writes beautifully. His style is quiet. The language and dialogue were so perfectly set for the time period and created all of the scenes wonderfully. You could see so much of each character's personality through the way they spoke and how they acted in each scene. So very English, such stiff upper lips and dedication to decorum. The whole book is really quite sad and touching. My heart broke over and over again for Tristan - how much of life and happiness was kept from him and how hard on himself he was throughout. I will think about this book for awhile.

  • Dianne
    2019-02-08 05:40

    Interesting World War I historical fiction narrated by a man carrying a tremendous burden. The narrator, Tristan, is pitch-perfect but some of the other characters seemed too broadly or inconsistently sketched and felt "unreal." Nevertheless, a real page turner and I liked it.One observation - it wasn't really about the absolutist. Shouldn't it have been called "The Feather Man?"

  • Em Chainey (Bookowski)
    2019-01-26 02:30

    Dünyaya erkek olarak gelseydim, bu dünya görüşumle, şimdi olduğum gibi bir vicdani redci olurdum. Şimdi bir de 1. Dünya Savaşını düşünün. O gencecik erkekleri, militarist görüşe karşı vicdani redci olmayı... Ve bir askerin başka bir askere aşık olmasını. Diğerinin bunu kullanıp inkâr etmesini. "Sanki hepimiz şiddete karşı bağışıklık kazanmışız"Öyle olmasın diye çok üzülüyorum ama bazen şu hengamede, sadece susup oturduğum oluyor. Savaş-Barış; Aşk-Nefret; Şiddet-Siddetsizlik... Dünya zıt kutuplardan mı ibaret yoksa?Kitap beni dağıttı ama toparlanmak istemiyorum.

  • Patrice Hoffman
    2019-02-05 02:35

    I try not to write reviews that consist of the phrases "a must read" or "it was an awesome book" only because people who read reviews want to know more. I initially did not write a review because I wanted to be lazy. Nor did I want to have to go into detail about all the themes that are presented in this novel. Themes such as true love, betrayal, cowardice, finding ones self, homosexuality, and basic human nature (good and bad).I don't want to give anything away so I will say that this it was an awesome book that everyone must read. It has managed to linger in my head after having read it a few days ago. The story takes place during World War I. Tristan is a young soldier who meets Will, another young soldier and... you can only guess what else is going on. The story deals with the struggles of just being who we are or the people society wants us to be. Amongst a host of other things. John Boyne does a great job at making this novel more than what it is on the surface. Anyone who's ever loved someone, or had a family, or has been discriminated against can relate to this story and the struggles that the protagonist Tristan goes through. The characters are well developed. They're so developed that I even disliked Tristan at some points in the story. It's awesome when an author can make you dislike and care for the main character all in the same breath. Anyway, I really didn't mean to go on and on about this book and I could really go on and on some more. I do hope that this must read turns out to be an awesome book for the person who reads this review and tells themself I gotta read that book.

  • Hans
    2019-02-10 08:20

    This is a very profound story about being a homosexual and WW1. It is very honest and written with a lot of insight. I was very impressed again by John Boyne. Very readable!

  • LeAnne
    2019-01-30 02:49

    Really lovely, but depressing tale of a young veteran of the first World War. The time frame swaps back and forth between his post-wartime visit to the sister of a fallen comrade and the boys' actual time together in training and in the trenches. They were best friends, he reports, and he is coming to return the letters she wrote her brother over the time of his military service. He has another piece of information to share, and his anxiety over this news is tense - the author does a nice job in making you feel it.The general story line reminds me a bit of the actual life of JRR Tolkien. A young English writer, still school-aged, goes off to horrifying battle in World War 1. It greatly impacts him, and although he has tremendous literary success in the years following the war, he never directly writes about it. There was nice suspense built along the lines of precisely how the now dead brother died, but I felt the entire story was a bit too drawn out. Additionally, in the first chapter - maybe even the first couple pages - there appears a "Chekhov's gun." Essentially, when something vaguely odd stands out in the first chapter (a gun, say), then you can bet your bullets that said odd item is going to play a key role in the unfolding story - Chekhov's gun is definitely going to go off and maim or kill somebody. As soon as the oddity appeared in Chapter One, bang - I knew precisely what the key issue of the book would be. This rather clumsy use of the literary technique totally blew the surprise for me. The ending chapters of the book were absolutely excellent - wish the first third had been compressed a bit.4 stars, but not high on my list of books to recommend to others. I am now looking for the writer’s other works.

  • Lynn Beyrouthy
    2019-01-27 04:45

    When I added this book to my want-to-read list on GR, it was for the following reasons: 1. It takes place during world war 1 thus it must be teeming with enriching historical insertions that I take in with relish.2. It is a gay romance, thus it must vigorously investigate homosexual liaisons and the torment of their clandestinity during the Great War.For those reasons, I had presumed that The Absolutist would appeal to my tastes. But, as my one-star rating would suggest, this book did not impress me at all. First of all,  the historical passages I was hoping for were almost non-existent which is deplorable because there was plenty of room for ample references to the Great War such as the inane incident that provoked it, the stratagems  each side undertook, the catastrophic number of casualties and the aftermath of the war on a global level. Although, I have to admit that Boyne exploited a vital aspect of war: the heinous and inhumane crimes soldiers were forced to commit, the horrors they had to witness and how it all made them "immune to violence". What I loved the most about this book is its ability to show you where that line between cowardice and bravery is drawn.Boyne shed light on the concept of patriotism that urged English men to fight in the war and how a man who refused to fight out of principle and humanitarian motives was denounced as a coward by his fellows while in reality, he was the bravest of them all.Tristan Sadler was a homosexual seventeen-year-old whose family disowned him when  his sexual inclinations were revealed. He had to lie about his age to get enlisted in the army.While training in Aldershot, he developed a one of a kind friendship with Will Bancroft and the two soldiers quickly became thick as thieves.Infatuated and mad with possessiveness over Will, Tristan tries to stifle his illicit love but in vain. During their last night in Aldershot, Will, consumed by apprehension of what's coming next, initiates sex with Tristan bur ulteriorly ignores him and looks at him in revulsion. The same scenario happens again in France, which leaves Tristan crestfallen. Unable to loathe the man responsible for his emotional torment yet rejected, desolate and enraged  because he couldn't have him, Tristan suddenly has a big role to play in either saving Will's life or putting an end to it.

  • Bill
    2019-02-17 02:30

    I had heard of this novel through the Books on the Nightstand podcast. I believe both Ann and Michael were highly recommending it.I finished it last night, and as I sit here pondering what to write about it, I'm also torn between giving it one or five stars.Yeah, you read that right. I can't decide if I didn't like it or if was it amazing.Well, I can't give it one star. This is a book that will stay with me a very long time. In my world, that criteria ranks five stars.However:Here's where things get complicated. On the plus side, this is a pretty heartwrenching story of love set against the backdrop of England and France during the horrors of World War I. There was a long stretch where I felt for Tristan and what he was going through. See, I am a live and let live kind of guy, and even though I am not wired as Tristan is, I can still empathize what love can do to a young man.But. (view spoiler)[ How Tristan can possibly think that kissing Peter as he is going on about how he is so in love with a girl could be anything but disasterous is beyond me. What the hell did you expect, man? WTF? (hide spoiler)]Granted, Tristan was little more than a boy at that point, so raging hormones indeed rule....okay...but still...Tristan, Tristan, Tristan. Yes I empathized with you, but at the same time, and this screamed in my head a couple of times, "Oh my God! GET OVER YOURSELF!!!"I could go back and forth forever on this. There are several novels that I absolutely hated just because the characters were idiots. Perhaps I should qualify that a bit. It wasn't so much that they were idiots, but the author made them do totally unrealistic things. This author, on the other hand, created a character who, I think, behaved like a idiot.But, you place this behaviour inside a lovesick teen and, well, yeah, this can be realistic.So I've talked myself into five stars because this was a great story, and towards the end of the novel, (view spoiler)[I realized that Tristan getting over himself was certainly an unreasonable expectation. (hide spoiler)]Any novel that I can't shake out of my head gets a high rating. And I just resolved a major issue at work today so I'm in a great mood. Five stars it is.

  • Alyce (At Home With Books)
    2019-02-06 03:37

    The Absolutist begins with a soldier named Tristan traveling to visit the sister of his friend Will, who fought with him in World War I. Then it flashes back to Tristan’s experiences in basic training where he meets Will for the first time and they form a close friendship. From that point on the story alternates between the two time periods.Early on in the novel it becomes obvious that Tristan’s affections for the male friends in his life mean more to him than just normal fond feelings of camaraderie. We learn of his early childhood friend and how Tristan’s father casts Tristan out of the family when he learns of Tristan’s feelings (clearly reflecting the attitudes of the time toward homosexuality). Then at basic training Tristan meets Will, who is the personification of kindness, compassion and reason; and he is pulled into his sphere as if by gravity.His friendship with Will is complex and conflicted. You can tell that Will is fond of Tristan, yet fearful of feeling anything more, and incredibly disturbed by what the implications and ramifications could be of any actions taken. After seeing how the men of the group pick off a weaker member in their midst, Will’s fear is certainly understandable.What follows is the tragic rending of a friendship against the backdrop of the inhumanity and horror of war. There is beauty in their friendship that is in direct contrast to the ugliness of war, yet the complexity of their situation reveals bravery and cowardice in both men. Throughout the story, again and again, bravery and cowardice are eloquently contrasted side by side, and play out in unexpected ways for Will and Tristan, in both the war and civilian life.The significance of the title “The Absolutist” pertains to those pacifists who refused to do battle. Absolutists were those who refused to have anything to do with war or soldiering at all; even non-violent duties. A few pacifists figure into the plot of this book, and the author describes their uncommon courage in the face of taunting and the most dangerous (usually fatal) duties that they were given. He skillfully illustrates the irony of these men being brave enough to stand up for their beliefs, yet knowing they will eternally be labeled cowards.A quick note about content, even though the story is not that graphic, some of the battle scenes and themes about homosexuality definitely make this an adult novel.The Absolutist is a very well written story that drew me in and had me reading late into the night. Even as I read and knew that my heart might be broken, I did not want to stop. I highly recommend The Absolutist to those who love good literature, and to fans of dramatic war novels.I received a free copy of this book for review via Goodreads.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-29 01:45

    This book was brilliant! It was everything I was hoping for and a whole lot more besides.Set predominately in the year 1919, the story unfolds through the eyes of former soldier Tristan Sadler as he struggles to come to terms with events in his past, namely his experiences in the trenches during the First World War in 1916 and his intense, complicated relationship with fellow soldier Will Bancroft, all of which is told through a series of flashbacks. Through these flashbacks, the horrors and trauma (both mental and physical) of the war are brought vividly to life and the reader is swept up into a heart-breaking, thought provoking story of love and friendship, honour and morality and jealousy and guilt. This is a book that will tug on your heartstrings and make you think as it raises plenty of questions about sensitive topics such as cowardice and homosexuality which are themselves mixed in with the impact of war, the consequences of individual actions and social constraints/taboos of the early 20th century. It is also a book that will play with your emotions. It certainly had a huge impact on me in that respect. There are not many books out there that actually make me cry whilst reading them but this one most definitely did! There were also times when I felt frustrated and angry, others when I felt a small degree of hope. There were even occasions when I found myself physically wanting to scream at certain characters. I literally went through the whole spectrum. As if that is not enough, it is also a page turner. It is written in quite a simple way but it hooked me in from the very first page and did not let me go until I reached the end. I just had to know what was going to happen next and I found myself thinking about it even when I was not physically reading it. That is the sign of a great book as far as I am concerned.To sum up, this was a fantastic book that I had no hesitation in giving 5 stars. It is powerful and poignant and was a brilliant way to kick start a brand new year of reading. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone, even if you don't normally like this kind of thing. It really is that good! It has gone straight onto my favourites shelf and I will definitely be reading it again in the future. I think it would make a great film or tv adaptation. Fingers crossed that it happens one day!

  • Lane
    2019-01-27 00:48

    Bestselling author of Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne, returns to the theme of examining a period in history the eyes of two boys. Conscripted into the army at eighteen years of age, Will Bancroft is the son of a vicar, raised in the genteel English countryside. Seventeen year old Londoner Tristan Sadler, having been kicked out of home early in life by his abusive family, lied about his age and illegally enlisted in the army. The two meet in bootcamp at Aldershot and quickly form an unlikely and unusually strong bond. As the Great War rages on, our young heroes find themselves in the nasty trenches of France, fighting the Germans, and eventually facing a most horrific choice. THE ABSOLUTIST roams from tender intimacy and coming of age pain - to one heart stopping moment that you will read over and over as your body is moved to its core with a chill following that is quite impossible to shake. Not to be outdone by the preceding pages, Boyne masterfully draws the reader to an entirely unexpected ending. I have worked in the book industry over 24 years - you will not regret reading this novel, nor will you ever forget it!

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-02-06 06:32

    This is the second novel I've read by John Boyne (the other being A History of Loneliness) and already I feel like they were both written to a formula. Moving backwards and forwards in time with a terrible secret only revealed in the end. I always am surprised to see Boyne's youngish face in his author photo, just a few years older than me, because his novels always feel as if they are coming from someone who has lived their entire life. The main character and narrator is Tristan Sadler, a British World War I veteran who is the only person from his training group who survived (one other person lived but went mad.) He happens to be gay, which has a great impact on his own life, as his family has disowned him. Actually part of my struggle with the book is that some reactions to his sexual identity seem out of proportion, even for the early 20th century. All he does, an early reveal, is kiss a boy he had a crush on. It seems like you'd get handslapped, not kicked out of your house. Maybe I don't quite grasp that era. It was more disturbing to me how the men who didn't want to fight were treated.The novel is far more about the main character than it is about the war, although surely the horrors of that setting are there and dictating some of the events.

  • Laura
    2019-02-02 06:26

    I love starting the new year with a 5 star book. This book was so hard to put down. Such a page turner with some surprises. Very well done.