In a crucial extended flashback to a vividly realized 1949 Hollywood, where Rafael has arrived after hitchhiking across the country, Maxwell deftly paints the strong love that Gary felt for Rafael in spite of knowing the futility of longing for a man who can’t love him back. These chapters, the novel’s vital emotional core, abound with strong characterization, rich historical detail, and convincingly lifelike incidents that will rouse in readers a desire to see justice and closure for Rafael, especially after Rafael suffers a horrifying assault.
The novel’s 1990s story, meanwhile, centers on a scheme for cross-generational justice, as Jeremy and Gary strive to achieve a reckoning for Burnshaw’s crime of a half century before. The plan is convoluted, straining against the dynamics of the fictional world Maxwell has created, and the introduction of thriller elements, including scenes of imprisonment, feels like a shift of genre. Still, the novel is poignant, especially in its portrait of love and healing across decades.
Takeaway: A touching novel of unrequited love, facing the past, and unexpected suspense.
Great for fans of:Anne-Marie MacDonald’s Fall on Your Knees, Andre Aciman’s Call Me By Your Name.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A