For fans of The Danish Girl, an extraordinary transgender love story about self-belief and the true nature of courage.
Best friends since childhood, life takes very different courses for Will and Tom when they leave school. Tom joins the army to become a man. Will goes to university and discovers he's not. When Tom turns up on Will's doorstep almost 10 years later, he's disillusioned and broken after surviving Northern Ireland during the 1970s troubles, and with a broken marriage and no future. Will, on the other hand, has just embarked on a completely new future for himself - in his case, a very different kind of self; a woman called Billie.
As Will transitions from male to female, so the boyhood friendship between Tom and Will changes too. Initial shock and repulsion on Tom's part becomes grudging respect, and eventually something quite different. But life - and falling in love - is never that simple; and especially not when it's in the face of prejudice, fear, and lost courage.
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"Sometimes, in life, we have to improvise."
Tom and Will become unlikely best friends at school. Very different, they share one thing: both want to get away from their home town. As adults, they drift apart, Tom joining the army, a real man's man, Will going to university, then London, and struggling with his own identity. Eventually they meet again, their shared memories bringing them ever closer to, finally, give shape to both their lives.
Such a beautiful book, well written in alternating remembrances and internal dialogue from the points of view of Tom and Will, and sensitively read by the gentle voiced Rob Groves. His reading adds an even greater dimension to the characters of the two main protagonists - no easy feat given how fully they are already drawn by author, Deborah Martin.
This is a love story but not of the usual kind. Totally engrossing, I recommend everyone to read it. It is harsh and cruel, sweet and sublime, two totally different lives , in depth, in loneliness, in life, "both aliens in an alien world today." Yes, simply stunning.
- Norma Miles