The Absolutist
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The Absolutist

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  4,027 ratings  ·  762 reviews
A masterfully told tale of passion, jealousy, heroism and betrayal set in the gruesome trenches of World War I.

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 vi...more
Paperback, 309 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Other Press (first published 2011)
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Dem
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 wart...more
Cynthia
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...more
Erastes
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....more
Miles
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...more
Ryan G
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...more
Alyce (At Home With Books)
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 camara...more
Carol
May 21, 2012 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol by: Paul Kozlowski, Associate Publisher Other Press
Shelves: fiction
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...more
Bill
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...more
Lynn Beyrouthy
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...more
Carol
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.

Lane
Bestselling author of Boy in the Striped Pajamas, John Boyne, returns to the theme of examining a period in history throu...gh 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 fo...more
Marleen
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 pr...more
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
I was hooked from the clever and surprising opening sentence of this novel and could not put it down thereafter. This is the beautifully and simply written story of Tristan Sadler, a young man from London who trains and fights as a soldier in World War One, and a story of friendship and of love, of morals and cowardice, and the turmoil and harsh reality of war.

With a lovely structure, the novel is narrated in the first person throughout by Tristan, with sections alternating between his agonizin...more
Marialyce
Oh, how very tragic, sad, and moving this novel was! It made the reality of World War 1 ever more so awful as this author managed to make the reader aware and knowing due to his unforgettable and complex characters. Having read three books fairly recently about the "great" war, a misnomer if ever there was one, the plight and hardship suffered by these young men was unbelievable. It broke my heart to again be reminded of the carnage, the loss of young lives, and the utter depravity of war.

We see...more
Barb
It's 1919 and Tristan Sadler has established a life after the war. One of only two soldiers from his unit to survive the fighting in France, he's made an errand for himself; to deliver his friend Will Bancroft's letters to Will's older sister, Marian. He wants to tell her about her brother, the friend he trained beside and fought with in the trenches, he wants to tell her about their friendship and the secret he's kept all this time.

I wanted to love this book and I know I had high expectations f...more
Noeleen
The Absolutist is set during one of my most favourite historical fiction time periods, the first World War. It tells the story of the relationship between two young soldiers Tristan Sadler and Will Bancroft, from their time training at Aldershot to the battles in the trenches in France during the war. The story begins after the war in 1919 when Tristan arranges a meeting with Will’s sister, Marian, to return letters that Will wrote to her during the war. The story alternates between the meeting...more
Natylie Baldwin
The Absolutist is a story about two young British men, Tristan and Will, who struggle to demonstrate courage within their complicated friendship that develops in the trenches of the First World War.

One of the main questions explored is physical courage versus moral courage and, more specifically, what is the relationship between the two.

Each character both succeeds and fails in navigating the different avenues of moral courage that they are confronted with.

Will is willing to die to take a stand...more
Larry Hoffer
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...more
Edina Rose
This book left me in tears. It's tragic, and there is no HEA. It's not even a romance, though there is a strong romantic element in the plot.

It's the story of two young men, teenagers actually, who meet when they are trained and sent to fight the first World War. Will is the son of a pastor and Tristan is a butcher's son. They instantly connect and become fast friends. There is an attraction that Tristan embraces and Will ignores or tries to, to no avail.

Without the war and the heightened emotio...more
Jill
For most of my life, I’ve puzzled over the insanity of war; young men, boys really, being sent to kill other young men – strangers – based on the megalomaniac vision of power-hungry leaders.

Tristan Sadler is one of those young men. We meet him as he’s on his way to deliver letters to his deceased friend’s sister in Norwich. There are hints that Will Bancroft – his friend – died under dishonorable circumstances and that, though the war is over, Tristan is still fighting his own private war. But i...more
Patrice Hoffman
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...more
M
My god, that was sad. It's not really a romance, more a tale of frustrated desire wrapped up in an indictment of the First World War, and it's beautifully done. It's a very understated novel; Boyne manages to capture the horror and despair of the trenches very clearly and without trying too hard to be graphic or shocking. I felt great empathy towards his characters, despite (or maybe because of) their flaws. I'm not sure if 'enjoyed' is the right word to use, but I read it start to finish withou...more
Jeanette
It's a 4.5 star and is terrifically well written. The prose is 5 star- melodious, subtle, not-in your face emotion but far deeper in root. This author is a masterful writer. And it also has the best beginning I've read so far this year. You are pulled into the "eyes" of the protagonist immediately.

And the switching of time periods in memory order, rather than any chronological measure- it worked here.

It lost the last 1/2 star for me only- (I can understand the 5 star rating for most) because I...more
Richda Mcnutt
Who is more courageous: the man who dives over the trench line and enters no-man's land, but becomes deadened to the carnage around him, or the man who refuses to take up arms against other human beings to the extent that he will not even aid his fellow soldiers as stretcher-bearer, courier, or other pacifistic duties (but then faces the consequences of this stance)?

That is one form of courage. And that is only one theme of "The Absolutist." In contrast to courage, fear rides rampant. The fear...more
Stephen Hayes
I'm in two minds about this book. The plot and the story line are quite good, and it is a very sad story. But the manner of its telling is not so good. The basic story is set in the First World War, where two new recruits, Tristan Sadler and Will Bancroft, stike up a friendship of sorts at Aldershot training camp. But they have different perceptions and expectations of their relationship, which sours when they go to the frontline trenches in France.

Tristan survives the war, but Will doesn't, and...more
Trevor
I began reading this book at the disadvantage of not having read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and knowing that there was a certain amount of controversy over the historical inaccuracies etc, and I noted this was set in WW 1.The first paragraphs begin lightly enough: two strangers conversing on a train, an elderly woman crime novelist and the narrator, a young man. I wondered vaguely if it was going to be substantial enough to hold my interest, and the first World War has never been a favourit...more
Aoife
Ich habe Das Späte Geständnis des Tristan Sadler schon seit einer ganzen Weile fertig gelesen aber wusste einfach nicht was ich dazu schreiben sollte. Das hat im wesentlichen zwei Gründe: zum einen lebt dieses Buch davon, dass die Geschehnisse nach und nach aufgedeckt werden. Zuviel zu verraten würde sicher die Freude beim Lesen reduzieren, aber ohne zumindest eine Tatsache aufzudecken die nicht im Klappentext steht ist es schwer überhaupt irgendetwas zu sagen.
Zum anderen war ich mir auch Tage...more
Christy B
I would compare how I read the last 100 pages of this book to ripping off a a band-aid: I didn't want to do it, but I did it really fast, knowing the pain that would evidently come.

I don't know why I requested to read this book, maybe I like torturing myself. I knew it would be tragic. I basically knew what the book was about and how it would end. Well, I thought I did. There was one twist that I didn't see coming, and it made the tears run down my face in lightning speed.

There's nothing happy a...more
Ainul Shakirah Shafie
I nearly put down this book, and stowed it away never to be read again. No, not because it was not a good read, because it was a fine read, and more. It was because the story brought up emotions in me that would have been acceptable, had it been based on a true story. Like all other novels by John Boyne, this book particularly, by the end of it, my emotions were pretty much run to the ground.

Having said that, the artful way John Boyne writes never fail to make me surrender hours of my time, comp...more
Aubrey
4.5/5

I loved how real this felt. The characters, the plot, the horror of the war in all its forms. Human beings can be wonderful, but they can also be cruel, vicious souls when pushed too far. This book showcased this perfectly in its portrayal of a man raised in a society that rejects him from all sides, even while he is risking his life for it.

There may have been a war, but there were no heroes. Every character had their share of flaws, and what was especially fascinating was that the main cha...more
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John Boyne (born 30 April 1971 in Dublin) is an Irish novelist.

He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, where he was awarded the Curtis Brown prize. But it was during his time at Trinity that he began to get published. To pay his way at that stage of his career, he worked at Waterstone's, typing up his drafts by night.

John Boyne is...more
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“I think i'm just breathing, that's all. And there's a difference between breathing and being alive.” 37 likes
“Do you see the irony at all, Tristan?’
I stare at him and shake my head. He seems determined not to speak again until I do. ‘What irony?’ I ask eventually, the words tumbling out in a hurried heap. ‘That I am to be shot as a coward while you get to live as one.”
18 likes
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