The Absolutist

The Absolutist

by John Boyne
4.6 16


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The Absolutist by John Boyne

“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.”
John Irving

A masterfully told tale of passion, jealousy, heroism and betrayal set in the gruesome trenches of World War I.

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 recounts the horrific details of what to him became a senseless war, he also speaks of his friendship with Will—from their first meeting on the training grounds at Aldershot to their farewell in the trenches of northern France. The intensity of their bond brought Tristan happiness and self-discovery as well as confusion and unbearable pain.

The Absolutist is a masterful tale of passion, jealousy, heroism, and betrayal set in one of the most gruesome trenches of France during World War I. This novel will keep readers on the edge of their seats until its most extraordinary and unexpected conclusion, and will stay with them long after they've turned the last page.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385616041
Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
Publication date: 05/28/2011

About the Author

John Boyne was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1971. He is the author of nine novels (seven for adults and two for children), including The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which was made into an award-winning film. The novel also won two Irish Book Awards, was short-listed for the British Book Award, reached the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list, and has sold more than five million copies. His novels are published in forty-five languages. He lives in Dublin. Please visit him at

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Absolutist 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
BookHussy More than 1 year ago
Tristan Sadler, disowned by his family, enlists in the British army at the age of 17 to fight in the Great War. He almost immediately falls in love with Will, another soldier, during training who later becomes an 'absolutist' when they are fighting on the front lines. An absolutist is a soldier who refuses to participate in a war whatsoever. Will was shot by a firing squad as a coward. After the war, Tristan is shattered by what he has seen and experienced. He finally travels to Norwich to meet with Will's sister to return a packet of letters...and to unburden himself and convince Will's family that he did not die as a coward. Please let me say that this book is SO much more than I have attempted to describe...the characters are so well-drawn, the plot so deftly layered. You will constantly be surprised by secrets, nuances and tragedies. This is an amazing novel, and I highly recommend it. My review does not do it justice.
MaryRidgway More than 1 year ago
John Boyne creates a vivid scene of the brutality of war and the emotional turmoil of young boys sent to the trenches of France in the Great War. Tristan, a troubled lad who has been shunned by his family, enlists when under age in order to fight. He is drawn to the charismatic Will, who plays with his heart and only adds to Tristan's confusion. When Will is branded a coward and sentenced to death by firing squad, Tristan must grapple with the true meaning of being a featherman in a way that will have repercussions for his entire life. Boyne skilfully explores the dilemma of moral courage vs duty to country through the journey of two young soldiers thrust too soon into manhood in the madness of battle. And through his absorbing prose the reader will, just as Tristan does, finally realise that honour has many different meanings.
ChadlyAZ More than 1 year ago
One of the best written, although sadly tragic gay love stories every written. Tastefully written for all readers it is a true tales of love, tragedy, devotion, pain, and agony set during the great war. Well written with excellent character development. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book! Could not put it down.
Barbara2 More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a very powerful book depicting the horrors and futility of war and of the derision and hatred suffered by those who do not join in "the game". Mr. Boyne knows just how to weave his story so that we are always kept wondering, moving from the present to the past and back again for his characters. It is a very sad story and the events of his military stint and brief encounters with the man he so admires and grows to love influence his entire life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more of Mr. Boyne's works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want a story that grabs you and stays with you, then this novel is for you.
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PenelopeSue More than 1 year ago
loved it