Audie Award Nominee, Best Solo Narration, 2013
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 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 listeners on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and it will stay with them long after they've finished.
©2011 John Boyne (P)2012 Tantor
As many reviewers have noted, it is a difficult book to review without giving away what is better left to the slow, intense unfolding which is skillfully handled by Boyne. Friendship, moral issues, and the nature of humanity is explored by way of the complicated interaction of two young men who meet in the process of being sent to a brutal war, and the fall-out from that interaction. I admired the carefully controlled, seemingly low-key manner by which Boyne discloses this very emotional tale. I doubt that I would read this again, but not because it was a disappointment or not worthy.
My only complaint was the narrator. Maloney has a very pleasant speaking voice and isn't too bad at various accents. (No idea where the Sargeant was from, though) Maloney needs some training--or something--in reading before a mic. He doesn't seem to understand how to create intensity or anger without simply shouting. Since most of the first person narrative is delivered in well-modulated sotto voce, the sudden too-high volume as a character expresses strong emotion or distance is jarring and unpleasant. Just pulling away from the mic or muffling it would have helped. If Maloney could improve his technique, he could be a very good narrator.
Despite the narration, I recommend the book with no reservations.
This is a very thought provoking book. The ending in particular hit like a punch to the gut. That being said, this book is far from perfect, especially where characterization is concerned.
My biggest problem with this book was that I found it hard to sympathize with Will. This could in part be because Boyne did such a good job at getting me on Tristan's side, but I don't think that that's the case. He is supposed to come across as this courageous moral character, but instead he only comes across as needlessly cruel. I know that that is supposed to show him as being a product of his time, but that just isn't how it reads.
The narration of this book was extremely frustrating and blocked me from enjoying it. Maloney melodramatically whispers the majority of the book, so that I found myself constantly tuning the volume instead of taking in the book. After whispering the voice of the main character for an extended period of time, he would suddenly switch to the booming voice of a supporting character, causing me to hurry to re-adjust the volume again. He differentiates the voices well, but he needs to speak up. The whispering melodrama does not benefit this audio in the least.
I strongly suggest reading this book rather than listening to Maloney's narration.
i like to read. i like to listen.
this novel was seriously disturbing, but really good.
it's extremely emotional. an intimate portrayal of a soldier and all the mistakes he makes in relationships, in war, in love. it's truly moving and tragic and very powerful.
the narrator brought tristan to life in a really wonderful way...making him just sympathetic enough for you to want to read on (listen), but also bringing the ringing truth about his decisions into plain sight.
it's a book that will stick with you a while.
This was such an intriquing novel. I was quite surprised by the ending but it led to understanding of the lead character's demeanor through the book. Many thanks for this excellent read.
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