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Title: Absolutist, The
Authors: Boyne, John
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 309
Year: 2011
Publisher: Random House
Language: English
Description: Subject to the horrors of the Great War, Will Bancroft declares himself an 'absolutist', a conscientious objector who will do nothing for the war effort, a declaration with an inevitable outcome. Narrated by his gay friend Tristan Sadler, this is a gruelling story of the battlefield, two young men on the cusp of adulthood and the condemnation they face in a society requiring conformity from its young soldiers.

A tragic and tense story of courage, friendship and loyalty played out in the trenches of Northern France.

Comments from Groups:

Everyone enjoyed the spare writing style and the different approach to the war story and the many themes-loyalty, love, homosexuality and the issues around conscientious objecting. Feilding 001

It was very interesting to discuss this book...before ANZAC Day, when members of our group have several connections and interest in WW1 and also in the Falklands War,... it made the whole topic so much more relevant. Pukekohe 001

We all enjoyed this book, although found the subject material challenging in parts. Good discussion. Palmerston North 031

This book made a big impression on all members and led to a very good discussion. We are all keen to read more by John Boyne. Taumarunui 003

Almost all found this book a compelling read, and very thought-provoking in a number of ways and on a number of themes as follows. Attitudes to homosexuality and the way these affected individuals and families. Some discussion on our attitudes now, even though there is more acceptance of it. 'Absolutist' was a new term for most. Is it courage or cowardice to believe in pacifism? Power and control - Tristan's father cutting him off with no mention of the mother's feelings; Will's father very much a dominant and controlling figure - over both Will and his sister. Most found the writing good and the description in the trenches graphic and really affecting. Interestingly, one member did not like the writing, feeling that conversations were wooden and unrealistic. Overall it was considered a challenging and thought-provoking read. Auckland 015

Most of us found the book rather uninspiring - 2 didn't finish it. Interesting subject matter, but most of us could see the 'revelation' coming fairly early on, and found the characterisation a bit thin... Wellington 046

Much discussion - issues re war, conscientious objectors, homosexuality, betrayal, jealousy, trench warfare, present world war scenarios, principles, family histories etc - all from one book. Colm Toibin summation on the cover so very true. I am pleased I read it, but can't say I enjoyed it! Nelson 062

'The Absolutist' was written in an 'easy to read' style, and the Group as a whole enjoyed it. Discussion was lively which was to be expected, as we had two different themes to consider: the pointless wartime experiences in WW1 and the difficulty of living in a world that believed that homosexuality was evil. There was a huge diversity of opinions as we presented our points of view and it was good to know that we were, and still are, good friends in our Group! Palmerston North 002

This well written book, despite its subject of the gruelling days of WW1 and the following 50 years, was compelling reading. The discussion was thought-provoking, as we considered the complex lives of the immature young men, their courage and friendships. Christchurch 043

Categories: Fiction, War theme, Gender Issues, Grief/loss, Morals/Ethics, Relationships, England

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