Is Max Fabien the loyal secretary and faithful lover of the marquis de Miremont? Or a handsome trickster who regards lying as an accomplishment and any sexual quarry as fair game?
Miremont’s heart tells him one thing, his jealousy another. But his obsessive passion for Max must remain a dark secret. And, when his estranged wife brings their eighteen- year-old daughter to Paris to make her debut, the strain begins to tell.
The once-calm atmosphere of the Hôtel de Miremont swirls with gossip, mistrust and danger and Miremont is faced with an impossible choice.
Meanwhile the secrets of Max’ past continue to haunt him. Has the time has come for him to claim his not-so-rightful destiny?
That Deplorable Boy is the second part the Miremont series, charting the course of a gay love affair between an aristocrat and a former servant in Belle Époque France. Rich in period detail and set in the grand châteaux of Paris and Burgundy, the novels explore the suffocating social codes of the time and the conflicts and perils they bring for those who must live outside them.
That Deplorable Boy is a historical drama set in 19th Century France, sequel to the wonderful The Second Footman and written by Jasper Barry.
It continues the story of the forbidden love between Max, an ambitious footman and his lover the privileged Marquis de Mirenant. Now a ‘couple’, even though their relationship must remain a secret. It delves into the perils such men faced if their relationships were discovered and the social barriers between those that serve and the ruling classes.
As with the first book I loved the rich historical detail and the continued emphasis Jasper Barry places on character and story. Not resting on his laurels he developes both Max and Mirenant’s back stories. We get to understand more about Max ‘s troubled early life and the reason Mirenant finds it so hard to trust, when we meet the wife he is separated from. Real trouble and strife is encountered when we meet Mirenant’s her, who is the worst type of the quintessential French aristocrat, demanding, vain and dismissive of those lower in rank to her. No wonder Mirenant, his sexuality aside, could never love her. Then we have poor damaged Juliette their daughter, for whom my feelings varied thoughout. It’s what makes Jasper Barry’s books a joy to read, the rich emotional detail he invests in his characters.
Yet again I loved that the author cares enough about these two wonderful characters that he doesn’t rush the story. He continues to tease out their ever evolving relationship slowly. It is a delicious feeling of indulgence to read a book that is allowed to runs its course, without contrived plot devices only there to speed up the narrative.
Once again this book is about the relationship between these two men, their feelings and motivations, as they negotiate the boundaries that often prevent them being honest with each other about their feelings. It felt refreshing to focus on how they are ever changing, especially Max who this time battles more with the ghosts in his past, his wish for social advancement versus the love of a deeply tortured Mirenant.
What more could you ask for, than a book full of obsession and jealously. The writer keeps us guessing, is Max a deplorable boy or a young man capable of great love?
Read this wonderful book to find out.
About the author
Jasper Barry graduated from Cambridge with a degree in English and has worked in advertising, then in journalism. Jasper lives in London with too many books and three obstreperous cats.