Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Half a Man by Scarlet Blackwell

Traumatised by the nightmare of trench warfare in France, Robert Blake turns to rent boy Jack Anderson for solace. Neither man expects their business relationship to go quite so far. 

It is 1919, less than a year after the end of the First World War with a recovering Britain in the grip of the influenza pandemic. Crippled veteran of the Somme battle, Robert Blake, is looking for someone to ease his nightmares of France and his guilt over what happened to his commanding officer. He turns to educated rent boy Jack Anderson for physical solace, not expecting how deeply the two soon become immersed in each other's lives.

Reviewer: BlackTulip
Robert is a man who went through the mill fighting this dirty war in the trenches in France, trying to stay alive in the mud and the blood of his fellow companions. He is left severely handicapped in his body as well as in his mind.

Two years later, he is a lonely man who still suffers, in a wheelchair, with no life, no hope and no one to care for, having lost his lover during the war and feeling guilty about it. He needs to fill a gap ... So he rents a young man as a sexual companion who happens to be quiet different from expected ... He is as lonely and lost as Robert.

Little by little we can see them becoming addicted to one another in a very subtle and fragile equilibrium not even aware of that themselves.

The building of these two characters is quiet good, the first encounter, their hesitations, their hopes, their doubts... we can feel it, as well as a large range of emotions, shyness, frustration, fear, tenderness, passion ...

Despite the fact that I liked the book, I found a flaw in Robert's character. I was expecting somebody with more depth, more tortured, desperate and on the edge and I didn't feel it. I felt only sadness, frustration, hopelessness, not enough strong feelings for a man who went through hell. Another thing is that not enough is said about his nightmares and I would have liked to hear a bit more about his lost lover too.

It is a book nonetheless that I recommend. I give a note of 3.5/5.

See the original review on goodreads


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