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The Absolutist

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  9,557 ratings  ·  1,424 reviews
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 rec
Paperback, 309 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by Other Press (first published May 12th 2011)
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Elyse Walters
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hist-fiction
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
Larry H
Jul 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
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
Jun 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: british, war

A touching story, well told. Unfortunately it’s trajectory is clear, at least to me, from very early on. It’s always a literary dilemma about how much to reveal and when in order to keep the reader’s interest. Boyne gives too much away too early. The consequence is that the I ended up mainly looking for confirming clues. It was simply impossible for me to suspend the urge to make premature sense of the whole thing. This distracts from appreciating the merits of technique and stru
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"...there's a difference between breathing and being alive."

I've been working my way through all of Boyne's books, and each time I start a new one I think to myself that there is no way this one can top the previous one. And each and every time, not only have I found myself mistaken, I am left astonished by his blinding literary brilliance.
There is no way to rate his books in order of best to worst.
There simply is no worst.
There isn't even a mediocre.

This story has left me shattered.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-books
My third book by this author and each one has been so beautifully written. The kind of books you walk around with in your head for days after finishing them.

The Absolutist tells of the horrors of war and through Tristan, the main character, we learn how difficult it was to live as a homosexual in 1916. His relationship with Will, who is struggling with his beliefs and values in every area of his life, is tumultuous and ends in disaster.

And then after all the drama and death life just goes on. I
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
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

There isn't a lot I can say about this beautiful book that hasn't already been said. A WW1 setting, a 17 yr old homosexual, Tristan, who joined up because his parents no longer wanted him in their lives, and from there the real drama begins as he falls for his bunkmate. Told in flashbacks a few years later, Tristan meets with his buddy's sister to discuss the truth about what happened, what happens, during wartime. What is said can apply to every war, as there are always going to be men
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.

May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Vitor Martins

Essa 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
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a beautifully written, poignant love story. But not a love story in any conventional sense. A love so strongly felt by one and so strongly denied by the other.
The young couple involved are Tristan Sadler and Will Bancroft. Two young men who join up to fight in the trenches of France during WW1.
Out of the 20, or so, young men who train together for war only Tristan comes home. Tristan comes home whole in body but not mind, he carries a secret that will haunt him until his death.
The story
Jul 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chrissie by: Sandy
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 eve
John Boyne ha scritto un bel romanzo, ma non ha osato. Gli rimprovero la poca arditezza, perché quello che traspare da queste pagine, per quanto piacevoli, ben confezionate, non di rado toccanti, è un’implicita attitudine mainstream, il voler comunicare senza troppi rischi una storia ‘diversa’ ma incontrovertibilmente aperta alla moltitudine. Tristan porta con sé sui campi della Grande Guerra lo scandalo che lo ha fatto allontanare dalla famiglia, e trova nel commilitone Will, il quale diventerà ...more
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
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
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 t
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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, i ...more
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 ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, favorites
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 ...more
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2015
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?"
Jun 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Boyne this is the 9th time you’ve done this to me.
Have mercy!
Patrice Hoffman
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Em Chainey (Bookowski)
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 kutuplar
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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Did Will ever have feelings for Tristan? 6 160 Nov 22, 2016 09:22AM  
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Free Books, .99, ...: Giveaway of John Boyne's The Absolutist! 2 88 Nov 05, 2012 02:04AM  
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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 won the Curtis Brown prize. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by UEA.

John Boyne is the author of ten novels for adults and five for young readers, as well as a collection of short stories.

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“I think i'm just breathing, that's all. And there's a difference between breathing and being alive.” 67 likes
“ I can't bear to be on a train without a book", she announced. " It's a form of self-defence in a way" .” 27 likes
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