Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Review: A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

Today's review is of a very special book which grew on me more and more with each page and ended up becoming one of my favorite books of all time. Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man is an intelligent, well-written novel of a day in the life of George, a gay man who has recently become single again, after the death of his long-time lover.

Like all the best books, it's hard to say what this book is about. It could be argued that it's about George dealing with his loss, but it's about a lot more than that. Isherwood writes about relationships - romantic or friendly - and how sometimes not even this is enough. He writes about forbidden pleasures - as if being gay in the 60's is not enough, George starts developing a risky friendship with one of his students. The gay history of Los Angeles is explained from time to time, but only when it has to do with George's thoughts and actions.

George is a fascinating character, alienated from everyone around him by his very existence. A gay Brit living in Los Angeles and working as a university lit teacher (lit seems to interest no one) makes his identity more than a little blurry. His best friend Charlotte, another fascinating character, is a straight woman without a husband who drinks her nights away and dreams of going back to London (somehow, one doesn't necessarily feel either Charlotte or George would be better off there). And then, with the sudden death of his life partner, George has one last chance to recuperate and move on. And we all know it's not that easy.

If you liked the book, make sure you see the movie adaptation, directed by Tom Ford. It's divine.


This review counts toward the GLBT challenge.


Amanda said...

I've got this one and am looking forward to it!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

wonderful! I really wanted to see the film, so now I must read the book as well. :) I love Colin Firth and Nicholas Hoult.


Trisha said...

I've heard the film is fantastic, but honestly I didn't realize it was a book first. Going on the wish list right now.

Ryan G said...

I haven't read an Insherwood novel in years, I may have to take a look at this one. Thanks for the review.