This is one of the most understated, but powerful books I have read.
It has an elegiac tone, and is simple and direct in its language; it has a feeling of darkness, melancholy, sadness and, at times, joy(Richard Garay’s relationship with Pablo).
The initial scenes where Richard inhabits his mother’s house and doesnt want to change anything because he wants to keep her memory and presence intact, are haunting enough. But the closing scenes, when both Richard and Pablo discover they are HIV positive, and Richard actually has a form of AIDS-related pneumonia,and where they are re-united, are so moving(quietly; and being all the more affecting for that)
I admire that way in which Toibin is not afraid to say it how it was in the 1980s(and earlier 1990s), when AIDs had no effective treatments and everyone died, sooner or later. It is a historically-specific novel, but it is also a wholly universal love story.
I am looking forward to reading Toibin’s “Blackwater Lightship”, which has some similar themes.
I also recommend his article for “the London Review of Books”(Jan 1999), “Roaming the Greenwood”(available on the internet), which I may discuss later; and which is about the connexions gay men, lesbians and other people with same-sex affects can make with other people throughout history, and which is, partly, an early draft for his “Love in a Dark Time:gay Lives from Wilde to Aldomovar”(2001)