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Comfort and Joy

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,324 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Ford McKinney leads a charmed life: he's a young doctor possessing good looks, good breeding, and money. He comes from an old Savannah family where his parents, attentive to his future, focus their energies on finding their son--their golden boy--a girl to marry. But how charmed is this life when Ford's own heart suspects that he is not meant to spend his life with a woman ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 16th 2003 by Algonquin Books (first published 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nick Pageant
Feb 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nick by: Giulio

Dave Malone, the best writing teacher I've ever had, once asked me to describe the difference between fiction and literature. I don't remember exactly how I answered, but I do remember that I was judged to be incorrect. According to Dave, the difference is simple: fiction makes statements; literature asks questions.

The central question of Comfort and Joy is "Why do men stay together?" I have to say that I had a very negative, knee-jerk reaction to that question because, in the context of this gr

It is a love story. Wonderful, beautiful, forbidden, honest and very real. This book is very difficult to review for me. I have an impression that everything that I'll say about this novel and about the relationship between Ford McKinney and Dan Crell won't do justice neither the book, nor the MCs.

It is probably the quietest love story I've ever read. And these contradictions between the two protagonists and their backgrounds, between the stillness and tenderness of telling, the soft flowing of
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing

Since two of my Gr friends are reading this book right now, I think it's time for me to review this amazing novel.
I read it a couple of years ago but it still has a special place in my heart. It's a wonderful love story between two men (a doctor raised by a homophobic rich family and a nurse with a severe health condition coming from a poor childhood)
I think it's a very honest portrait of a gay relationship, with all the sparkling of a true love and all the downsides of the everyday life perfect
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Quiet writing which is able to spike up out of nowhere and give you a dose of emotion.

Grimsely gives us a quiet mixture of attraction, love, need for closeness, for belonging, family against almost unsurmountable odds, ill health, danger, different backgrounds, different finances, different relationship. And still they tried and went on.

Throughout the book I saw parallels to every couples life regardless of gender. Those, who live or who lived an amount of time within a couple recognises the lov
Mar 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is in or knows someone in a Gay relationship.
Recommended to Bill by: M/M Group
Shelves: gay-fiction
March 22 2010

I can certainly relate to this novel, as I suspect many males in long term spousal relationships can do. I too had to choose between my spouse (of 30 years) and my parents. This book ends with such a choice made by Ford, leaving the future to the experience of the reader. It took about 5 years before my parents came around to accept us completely and now give Chris their love, always ask about him. Sometimes, I even think they like him better than me :-) He has become like an adopte
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay-fiction

4.5 stars

"When will you know if you want to give up?"
In answer, Ford knelt in front of Dan, laying his arms across Dan's lap and leaning his head into the center of Dan's chest. The contact shocked them both. "I could ask you the same thing. When will you know?"

Very realistic and honest love story to which, I believe, everyone who’s ever been in a relationship can relate.

The author throws many obstacles for Dan and Ford to overcome – completely different background, disease, homophobic and co
Apr 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jim Grimsley is one of my favorite authors. He has a way of cutting me to the emotional core yet making me feel somehow bettered for having read his books. Reflecting on his writing generally conjures in my mind terms like "raw", "gritty" and "disturbing", but never have I described one of his books as "lovely". This one is lovely. It is plain and simply a love story, not in the saccharin sense of a romance novel but in the authentic sense of what it takes for two imperfect people to make love w ...more
Karen Wellsbury
Nov 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a pithy review, that's about plot and characters, look elsewhere.

If you want to read a meandering review about how it reminded me of my teenaged best friend, and my marriage, then you're in the right place.

I decided to read this because of a lot of people had been 'talking' about it, which then developed into a BR, but I didn't expect the book to affect me as much as it did.

When I started reading it I cried, not those engineered ugly tears, but a quiet trickle, I was on my
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Fiction. Full of flashbacks, red herrings, and the unsettling business of hemophilia, this novel jerked me around until I lost track of which Christmas it was and what occasion it marked for Dan and Ford's relationship. Complete with half-assed themes (Ford has a little boy inside him; Dan has two people inside him -- what? why? who?) and the gay equivalent of Cold Comfort Farm's famously vague "something nasty in the woodshed," this book left me feeling both cheated and disturbed. Something ba ...more
A beautifully written, very touching and poignant story.

I loved Dan and Ford. So very different, entangled in what seems like a hopeless relationship, they still manage to fight for their love. I liked their honesty, vulnerability, even doubts and desire to give up. It felt authentic. Like any other long-term relationship, facing different issues on a day-to-day basis. It's unavoidable, very often painful, but at the same time rewarding.

I honestly don't know how much time together Dan and Ford
Edina Rose
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic-bet
Sometimes too lyrical and I'm sure people will have something to say about the structure of the story, but overall I liked the author's style. This is one of the best love stories I've read in the MM genre. It's simply WONDERFUL. The love between the two guys, I mean. It's not embellished. It depicts love with its contradictions: I love you but sometimes I hate you too. I want you but sometimes I don't. I want to stay with you but sometimes I want to break up. And the absolute certitude that abo ...more
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars.

I finished this a while ago and for some reason I never found the way, or the words to review it.

I hope I will review it later when I'm on my laptop. But for now know that this is beautiful in a strange and unique way. The melancholy and beauty of the writing, and the realness of the story and its characters is wonderful.

It's a love story, but it's not your typical one. However it feels incredibly realistic, and it resonates with the reader (or it did with me, anyway).

I'll be back l
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bluefire-reader
Well, this book waited patiently on my ipad for quite some time now. I even tried reading it several times and wasn't able to get further than two or three pages. Now obviously we matched! My mood and the story this book told, we fit perfectly. I loved the whole thing, first to last page. Wonderful writing, although from time to time I had difficulties to understand what was told - the current storyline or a flashback. But that never took long and was only a minor niggle.
Ulysses Dietz
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What draws two people together? What makes them decide to be a couple? How do they overcome the barriers that divide them; the things they hate about each other in spite of their love?

"Comfort & Joy" is a beautiful book in the tradition of Eudora Welty--a very southern story that nonetheless resonates across any such regional distinction. It is about two men, but the pieces of their stories could be assigned to any two people's lives. Grimsley fills the book with seemingly inconsequential mi
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, ebook, favorites
This story tastes like real life -- sweet and sour. Both main characters Ford and Dan are far from perfect. It isn't easy for them to be together, quite the contrary. Life as a couple is often uncomfortable, frightening and confusing. But being separated is so much worse.

Comfort and Joy is a beautiful story with some dark undertones. I loved it all. It gave me exactly what the title promises: comfort and joy. And it'll make a wonderful re-read!
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Jumping back and forth in time, Comfort and Joy charts the development of the relationship between Ford McKinney, a young doctor from a rich and deeply conservative family, and Dan Crell, a hospital administrator with serious health issues and a poor, troubled childhood. The story follows them from first meeting through getting together, living all the ups and downs of a budding and gradually deepening relationship, to their first Christmas visiting their respective families together as a couple ...more
Limor Moyal
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mm
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was an INCREDIBLE book!!! Absolutely AMAZING!!!!
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those rare books that I so wanted the story to continue for another 100 pages or so. I was so drawn in to Ford & Dan's relationship that when I was getting down to the last 20 pages, I did not want their story to end. Seeing their love for each other grow throughout the novel, seeing Ford finally getting comfortable in his own skin and not be self-loathing about his being gay, seeing him finally facing his self-righteous, narrow-minded parents and essentially tell them to go ...more
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Reread July'17
Changed the rating to 4*

After rereading this I had a different perspective & it changed my opinion about the book. I still am not sure if it's moved me but I perfectly understand the feeling & the mindsets to how to live in a constant cautious. And I also think I liked the writing, a lot.


3.5 stars.

So this is kinda a sequel to Winter Birds. Now, no wonder I was dumbstruck with all the secrecy.

Anyway, besides the confusing back story, timeline & the POVs,
Nancy Carbajal
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wish I read this during the holidays, but there you go. Ford and Dan make a complicated couple. There's the initial excitement with first attraction, but then comes a shock. It doesn't help that Ford is in denial about his attraction to men. He knows he is good looking and as a young attractive man, believes he deserves the attention and praise that comes with being handsome and well built. But a homosexual? No way! But things are different with Danny and hard, no pun intended. Their families ...more
Mel Bossa
Oct 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 0006-lgbtq
Dream boy, My Drowning, and Winter Birds, are three of my all time favorite novels.

This one is more of a romance, and I loved watching Dan and Ford's relationship blossom, but of course, the darkness of Dan's past (you will recognize him from Winter Birds) comes lurking around the corner, and this, the second part of the novel, is when Grimsley is at his best.

However, meshing the two colors together--light pink and violent purple--didn't quite come out right here.

To me, it was like mixing whisk
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is a queer romance, set around Christmas, so I thought it would be the perfect holiday read for me. Um. Not so much. The tone is just so dour—I’m not sure there’s a joke in the entire book. Neither Ford nor Dan particularly grabbed me. And Grimsley has this annoying tendency to write sentences. That stop. And devolve. Into fragments. Argh!

There are some nice atmospheric moments, but I never felt involved with the characters and was thus pretty bored.
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Are we sure this shouldn't be titled "Discomfort and Sorrow"???

I'm not sure if I'll ever go through the holidays hearing that song and feel the same again. Dan Crell and Ford McKinney are the central gay focus here. Dan works in the administrative office of Grady Hospital where Ford is a doctor. Ford's family is of old money from Savannah, but Dan grows up poor in rural North Carolina. Opposites attract and hey, it's the holidays...issues come up!
May 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I read it religiously for a year, like old ladies read the bible before they go to bed.
Oct 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The holiday season is that time of year when favorites and least-favorites come to mind more often than any other time of year. I look forward to a visit from my favorite aunt, my favorite ornament surfaces for its annual display, and I’m likely to pay several visits to my favorite store. I’m also reminded of my least favorite gift (and somehow remember exactly when and from whom I received it), that least favorite New Year’s Eve I arrived at home on the verge of tears, and my least favorite Chr ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Dan Krell is an introverted hospital bureaucrat with a painful childhood past. Ford Mckinny is an attractive, successful doctor raised in an old-money, Eastern family. The two meet and form a somewhat shaky relationship, and before it achieves stability, the holidays roll around and they decide to go home as a couple. But the depth of their commitment is sorely tested when Ford’s family cannot reconcile themselves to their son’s sexuality, and Dan’s long-kept family secrets are somewhat revealed ...more
Elisa Rolle
Ford is the classical good boy of a wealthy southern family. Third generation doctor, he has always followed the steps his parents have setted for him. But when he is expected to marry a good girl from a wealthy southern family he begins to question some of that steps. Cause almost by accident, he discovers that he is more attracted from men than women.

Told be truth, till almost his late twenties years, he pleases himself with the adoration from other men. Ford is an handsome man, wealthy, a doc
Joshy Sensei
Dec 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
More like Sorrow and Pain

Gripping story of two men who are both lonely, and desperately need each other. Both Dan and Ford carried a very heavy emotional baggage that I also had to bear while they let me in their lives.

At the first chapter, I felt the misery already --thanks to Grisley's tone of writing. But what was surprising is that it didn't feel overbearing even until the end. As the story unraveled, i became more and more obsessed on how Dan and Ford would make things work.

I thought for s
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, m-m, german
Original Title: "Comfort and Joy"

Ford McKinney is a wealthy doctor from a family of wealthy doctors. Dan Crell's family is living in a trailer park, and Dan is working as a hospital administrative in the same hospital as Ford.
Both men are gay, but while Dan has long ago come to terms with his sexuality, Ford is still in denial about himself. And what is more, Dan is HIV positive, and a hemophiliac.

That a relationship between the two very unlikely partners should work, is hard to believe, and
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Comfort & Joy BR 1st Dec 2014 with Irina, Sofia, Karen, Alona and Maya 74 31 Dec 31, 2014 03:32AM  
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Jim Grimsley is a playwright and novelist. Jim's first novel, Winter Birds, was published by Algonquin Books in 1994. The novel won the 1995 Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received a special citation from the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Jim's second novel, Dream Boy, won the American Library Association GLBT Award for Literature (the Stonewa ...more
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“Why do men stay together? It is easy to understand why they fuck, but why do they stay together, what is the answer? Why do they live in the same house, share meals together, argue about money and parents, why do they have pets, plant begonias, bring home birthday cakes? Where are the children, where is the sense of permanence, what is the tie that binds?

Yet they slept peacefully, side by side, and the body of one became adjusted to the rhythm of the other, and the breathing of one slowed the breathing of the other, and they dreamed in tandem and shared fragments of each other's dreams, and they grew more like each other day by day, not in personality, but in the fissures of the brain, because, seeing the same things every day, day after day, they laid down crevices in themselves that were the same shape, that were the same events written into memory, and this was enough, without words, to keep them silent about the fact of their hates and their fears, their deep concerns about each other, and the certainty that one of them would die first and neither of them knew which one it would be. The certainty that one of them would leave first, and that only by waiting could they learn which of the two.”
“Words created the future, exacerbated problems, raised barriers between them. But in the silence of Ford's sleep, Ford could love Dan easily; in the stillness of Ford's rest, Dan could adore him without question or fear.” 5 likes
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