Thomas Edward is only a teenager when he escapes his working class neighborhood. He's ready for anything-except the arrival of Donovan Whyte in his life. Sophisticated and dazzlingly handsome, Dondi quickly becomes the center of Thomas Edward's universe, introducing him to a world full of drama, passion and feuding families. When their relationship fizzles, they remain uneasy friends until Dondi invites Thomas Edward to his family's summer house. Thomas Edward is immediately attracted to Dondi's mysterious brother, Matthew-and finds himself hopelessly drawn to both men. As time passes, Thomas Edward develops a unique bond with both brothers as they orbit around each other, although he knows only one of them can be his lifelong love. Will the three of them be able to find a way to hold on to each other? Or will love, its loss, and the threat of death destroy their connection once and for all?
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For starters, I have to admit I wasn't that keen on the narrator, his bored nasally drawl for Dondi in particular seemed so affected, and there wasn't much variation in his characterisations so that one voice seemed to bleed into another sometimes. Having said that and to be perfectly fair, I would venture a guess that this story was quite difficult to narrate with so many male characters to distinguish between, so Mr Magnus’ narration gets a 3.5/4 from me.
The story however is a different matter – it’s a must read story. I didn't fall ‘in love’ with any of the characters as I normally do. Having lived through that particularly awful period in history, when what seemed to be an entire generation of young gay men were brought to their knees (absolutely no pun intended) by that ruthless killer known as AIDS - well, it’s not something you forget quickly.
I found the writing itself to be theatrical, flamboyant, amazingly descriptive and thoroughly ‘of the moment’, and yes, I do consider Mr Benjamin to be something of a word-smith. I did shed tears at the end. It’s a shame that Dondi seemed to live up to the stereotype that exists when heterosexual people usually think of gay guys…that they’ll 'sleep' with anyone that moves and has a pulse but I'm here to tell you I knew straight guys like that, so no, it’s just plain old human behaviour. I don’t condone Dondi’s behaviour, but I can understand why he was as he was, and why people were drawn to him. Thomas Edward, black and working class, who was the narrator and principal character of the story, was there for all of them.
As far as the filthy rich Whyte family is concerned, I could honestly only gasp in wonder (read... was gobsmacked, it just boggled the imagination) at the wealth that Dondi and his brothers were surrounded by and took for granted as they grew up, and to discover that each of them – Colin, Matthew and Donovan (Dondi) – was gifted $25 million by their ‘father’ on their 18th birthdays, well it beggars belief that only Dondi went off the rails. I found Colin and Matthew to be pretty level headed all things considered, and you’ll notice I put father in inverted commas….you’ll have to read/listen to the story to get the background details on both Gio and the boys mother, Mrs Whyte (I don’t excuse her viciousness towards Dondi, but I can sort of understand it in a way, given what went on before and the fact that she was duped)…and of course, I did pick up on the line ‘the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree’ when it was uttered. I'm not going into the details of the story any further; you must read it for yourselves…oh, and watch the film ‘The Normal Heart’ , which is also set at the onset of that dreaded plague. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED . This story gets all the stars from me.