A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Will one afternoon at the river change the lives of these men forever or would they go back to the status quo? I liked the story, but not the ending. Read to find out.
Two years after the horrors of the Great War, Robert and Harry are fellow students at the University of Oxford, spending an idyllic day on the banks of the river. Robert idolizes Harry, though he’s sure the other man has no idea of his feelings. When Harry offers to take Robert out on a punt on the river, the afternoon takes a turn Robert never expected
Lately I mostly ignore short stories when I choose the books for review, unless written by few authors who I think do short stories well, but since I really do enjoy this writer’s style and I am very partial to the stories about veterans adjusting to a life of peace and hopefully finding happiness in the meantime, I caved in.
What I love about this writer’s style is how she can paint such vivid pictures with so few words. Can’t you just see both men enjoying the lazy afternoon in this story so clearly only from reading the beginning sentences?
“They sat together at the river’s edge, lazily watching the boats go by. Robert’s feet, stretched out in front of him, were somehow damp, although the sun had been blazing all morning and dappled them now through the leaves, casting loose, blotted shadows that darkened their clothes like stains. Harry had taken off his shoes, setting them aside and drawing up his knees to dabble his toes in the grass. His hair was in his eyes, paled to its summer gold, and his sleeves were rolled up past the elbow. He looked positively blissful”
I loved how the writer took the moment which had the potential to change everything between Robert and Harry and run with it. The story is very short, basically them enjoying the nature and finally deciding to have sex — and it was one of the most “informative” sex scenes I have ever read though. It has to be, because the story is so short and we see and hear how much one of the guys had adored the other, but had not done anything about it till that day and how happily he gives control when other guy makes his move. Oh when I say gives control, I just want to note that story is not about BDSM.
I also really liked how the author placed a few touches to remind us that these men and the other students just had been through terrible war, although at the same time I wondered how much introspection they would have really have while engaging in passionate sex.
I do not regret reading this story, but it left me dissatisfied. While it has what I consider to be a perfect scope for a short, the ending, even though it is fitting, demands a continuation in my opinion. It begs for the story of their potential romance to be told and I was left frustrated. It is one thing to be left with the thinking that I just observed a wonderfully-described glimpse into these characters’ lives and whether the writer would decide to share more with me or not, I would be left happy that the writer showed me that moment. Not here; my thought was “What in the name is going to happen next? I want to know and I want to know now.”
Recommended, but be prepared to really want the novel. 🙂