The Absolutist

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
From the beloved John Boyne, a powerful, poignant novel about how we are to be good in the face of disaster.
September 1919: Twenty-year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. During the Great War, Tristan fought alongside Marian's brother Will who, in 1917, laid down his gun on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which brought shame and dishonour on the Bancroft family. But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan's visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage.
As they stroll through the streets of a city still coming to terms with the end of the war, he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, and speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him from brief moments of happiness and self-discovery to long periods of despair and pain.


Seated Opposite Me in the railway carriage, the elderly lady in the fox-fur shawl was recalling some of the murders that she had committed over the years.
‘There was the vicar in Leeds,’ she said, smiling a little as she tapped her lower lip with her index finger. ‘And the spinster from...
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LONGLISTED - 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
An Best 100 Book of 2012
Winner of the Stonewall Honor (Literature)

"A novel of immeasurable sadness, in a league with Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. John Boyne is very, very good at portraying the destructive power of a painfully kept secret. This is a forbidden love story—a gay love story—but one with a terrible twist."
—John Irving

"A wonderful, sad, tender book. There are some amazing things about this novel--one is the simplicity and purity of the narrative line; another is the sort of complexity within the characters and the emotions and the motives; another is the sense of the period, with all its restrictions. The book is going to have an enormous impact on everyone who reads it."
—Colm Toibin
"This will become a classic war novel."
—The Bookseller

“Let me try to explain how much I loved The Absolutist. I loved it for its grainy black-and-white-movie feel, like an old British film from the ’40s. I loved that author John Boyne teased out just enough information throughout this book to make me think I’d figured out what had happened to Tristan and Will (I didn’t!). I loved the mixture of horrific brutality and insanely beautiful prose. And I loved the ending, which made me gasp, gasp—and gasp again.”
Inland Empire Weekly

The Absolutist is effortlessly readable and meticulously attuned to its social and linguistic time frame.”
Irish Times