A tender, witty, uplifting story about friendship, family and community written with great humour that will appeal to fans of Rachel Joyce, Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon.
Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know…
Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.
Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur – but ‘good patient’ he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare – until he meets Gregory.
At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.
Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.
With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.
Baxter’s Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we’re here.
I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.
There are so many reasons I would recommend this book, the best being that it is a joyful celebration of love and friendship, of living life and having no regret
Its the story Baxter an elderly man, who lost Thomas, the man he loved during a senseless war and young Greg whose brother has recently died. Together they go on a journey of remembrance and healing.
For me the best part of this book was the character of Baxter himself, he is brave, resourceful, resilient and deeply caring of those around him. He has lived a long life, known love and loss and yet he remains full of quiet determination to live life under his own terms. His sexuality is simply who he is, the novel does not use it to define him, but simply bears witness to this part of him. He is shown to be a man who cares about the character of Greg and who wants to heal the troubled young man, as his friends helped him to recover from such a terrible loss. This is very much a character whose warmth and generosity of spirit endeared him to me and I miss him very much now I have finished the novel. I loved the journey he and Greg took together, forming a friendship that spans the generations, because friendship breaks down barriers and heals them both.
The other wonderful thing about Baxters Requiem is the voice the writer gives to LGBT people both past and present. He doesn’t make the story rose tinted, he acknowledges that young people often face the same prejudices that Baxter and Thomas faced between the wars and into the conflict itself. He also doesn’t allow the story to become bogged down in loss and grief; this is as much a celebration of love as it is a testament to a past life affected by prejudice. Baxter lived his life with Thomas closeted from the real world, but it was a deeply emotional relationship and we are given a glimpse into the tender love they shared, giving a lie to those that thought then and still do, that LGBT couples are not ‘normal’ and refuse to acknowledge the legitimacy of such relationships. It’s very touching that the writer presents to the reader the beauty of their relationship, weaving it into a mainstream novel, helping to move LGBT characters where they should always have been, away from the specialist shelves in bookshops and into the stories we read every single day. He gives a voice to the lost generations of LGBT people and warns the reader, in a deceptively simple way, that the battle for acceptance is not over. Quite an achievement, in a book about living life like every second counts.you
I knew from a few pages in that I was going to enjoy this book and I did. I have a special passion for championing LGBT fiction and the writer deserves special applauds for the way he treated this subject and produced such a heart warming read.
You can purchase this novel from Amazon
About the author
Matthew Crow was born and raised in Newcastle. Having worked as a freelance journalist since his teens he has contributed to a number of publications including the Independent on Sunday and the Observer. He has written for adults and YA. His book My Dearest Jonah, was nominated for the Dylan Thomas Prize.