Comfort and Joy

Title: Comfort and Joy
Author: Jim Grimsley
Publisher: Algonquin Books/Out of print
Amazon: Buy Link Comfort and Joy
Genre: Gay Romance
Length: Novel/291 paperback pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Sirius

Summary: An enjoyable gay romance from earlier times.

Blurb:

Ford McKinney is a devastatingly handsome, successful doctor, raised in an old Savannah family among good breeding and money. His longtime boyfriend, Dan Krell, is a shy hospital administrator with a painful childhood past. When the holidays arrive, they decide it’s time to go home together. But the depth of their commitment is tested when Ford’s parents cannot reconcile themselves to their son’s choices, and Dan’s secrets are exposed. Comfort and Joy is a poetic and finely-wrought novel that explores the difficult journey two men make toward love.

Review:

A friend introduced me to this book a little over a year ago as an example of a romance which was written before the explosion of the m/m genre. I really enjoyed it a year ago, and rereading it now with a fresh eye, I still enjoy it, but I do see how it may not be to everybody’s taste. I did not think that characters are written that badly either. I thought that it was more of “us against the world” type of story, thus the only internal conflict between the guys is not even a conflict but some tension because of Dan’s condition, which I personally find extremely believable. Ford and Dan may sometimes be a little scared to be together with each other, no matter how much they love each other, but my impression was that they are ten times more scared to be apart from each other. I found it to be very poignant. I am not sure if Ford’s being scared of coming out to his parents and Dan’s wanting him to do so faster counts as conflict either, or maybe it was, just not something they would consider serious enough to have anything but a disagreeing conversation about.

I thought that Jim Grimsley wrote a lyrical and poetic story, and I decided that he managed to show the protagonists dealing with very realistic everyday problems together rather than apart and I enjoyed it. Note: apparently Grimsley wrote about Dan’s painful childhood in Winter Birds, but I have not worked up the courage to read it yet.

When I think about it, maybe part of the reason why this story may not be to everybody’s taste is because we have read so many stories where the theme of coming out to the parents is explored. Some readers may find it repetitive, however I am someone who has read it a lot even since I read this book a year ago and for me it still stands out from the crowd.

Unfortunately since I read this book way before I started writing reviews for this site, I did not feel a need to avoid reading Amazon reviews — as I normally do — and I cannot pass up addressing one of the criticisms I found there. I found the criticism that Grimsley had a nerve to write a romance where a handsome doctor finds love with somebody below his social status in many ways to be quite silly. Yes, it may be less likely to happen in real life, but it is quite likely to happen in romance fiction.

The criticism I can offer myself is that Danny is probably a bit too perfect and saintly, however personally I was still able to love his character and be happy for him. I think it is because I found the writing to be so beautiful. Opinions may differ on this one of course. I also did not think that most of the secondary characters, except probably Dan’s mother were well developed.

A bit of bad news: this book is out of print and not available on Kindle, but the good news is you can still get the paperback on Amazon rather cheaply.

Highly recommended. If you guys will find that this book and this author is something you will enjoy reading, I highly recommend Dreamboy as another book of his I loved a lot.

6 comments

  • My copy of the book finally came from Amazon, and I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. I have to admit, I have this author’s Kirith Kirin and, while I liked it, I didn’t love it, so I didn’t actually seek out his other work. I doubt I would have picked Comfort and Joy up without your great review. This is such a lyrical piece and it so beautifully illustrates what I think is a fundamental truth about life relationships – however difficult it may be to learn to be together, it’s simply impossible to find happiness apart. Thanks.

    Reply
    • I am so glad Pea, sometimes I wonder when I look at my old favorites with reviewer’s eyes whether I am being just a tad too critical. I mean, I really loved these two guys and I really loved the writing, as you said very lyrical. Funny, I bought Kirith Kirin on the recommendation of the same friend who recommended Comfort and Joy, but so far I have read few pages and put it aside. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood for it, I do love fantasy and scifi a lot usually. But once I opened Comfort and Joy I could not put it down. Thanks for coming back and letting us know.

      Reply
  • Sirius
    Thank you so much for reviewing Comfort and Joy. I read this book almost 8 years ago and I really enjoyed it. I have Dream Boy which I bought about 2 years ago and haven’t gotten around to reading but you reminded me about it so it will be on my print TBR list. 🙂

    Reply
    • Wave, I am so glad you liked this one. Just be prepared to cry when you read Dream boy. But this is the writing of such caliber (IMO) when I am okay with crying 🙂

      Reply

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