Morgan's Reviews > The Absolutist

The Absolutist by John Boyne
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's review
Aug 13, 12

Read from August 08 to 10, 2012

I'm torn between a two- and a three- star review, as I didn't particularly believe or engage with the book, but still finished it. It's a quick and cinematic read, despite its clear moralistic aspirations. Most of my discussion here is based on criticisms; but the reality is that the book kept my attention, wasn't unenjoyable, and to my eye that makes it a solid three stars.

As numerous others have noted, the book is very loosely researched and contains a number of anachronisms- I'll go further to say that the overall tone of the book and the dialogue are just off for the time and setting. I had a very hard time settling in to the story due to the informality of the dialogue and the frequent factual errors (lipstick? On a spinster? In Britain? In 1919?). I admit that I'm the kind of history buff from hell that these discrepancies tend to bother, but they're at a level where most laypeople would notice them.

Without giving too much away, the plot felt oddly retro and after-school special. There was some fairly obvious foreshadowing right from the start, so those looking for dramatic reveals may be better served elsewhere. At many points the story was well told, and there were a few really lovely turns of phrase, but the book had the feel of a Lifetime movie in spots.

It clearly tried to be a serious issue piece,, and I think that's why the poor research and sentimentality bothered me so much. The parts that were meant to be emotionally impactful read as melodrama, which broke tone and consigned the book to the realm of entertainment.

As entertainment, it was quite successful, at its initial purpose, less so.

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