Beloved Ghost by Fiona Graph

Theo Lawder and Zac Bonneval meet in the army at the outbreak of World War II. They survive the horror of Dunkirk and become lovers. Theo goes to work at Bletchley Park, where he becomes friendly with Alan Turing. After the war he joins the Foreign Office, while Zac works for MI6. They make a good life together.

But this is a time when homosexuals are criminalised, and the pressure of being outcasts in society takes a terrible toll. Zac becomes deeply depressed and goes away. Can their love survive society’s hatred?


Beloved Ghost is the moving love story between Theo Lawder and Zac Bonneval. Having met during the war, the author takes them and us on a journey to the beginning of equality.  It is the story of their love affair, the way they were forced to live their life as a couple in the shadows, facing persecution, physical and mental abuse.

Fiona Graph has written a very character driven novel, creating two characters who both having grown up when being gay was a criminal offence, are used to show how the life they lived affected them mentally and physically.  She uses the two men to show that it took great bravery to refuse to conform, that their love was what defined them, not the judgement of others. She gives them a voice to express the damage done by the homophobia of others, yet more important than that, to show they were no different to ‘straight couples’. All they wanted  was to be allowed to live their lives together.  Beloved Ghost is about, love, the daily minutiae of being a couple and the love of two men for each other.

The flip side of this novel is how she depicts the cruelty and persecution faced by men like Theo and Zac. The beatings, the threats to careers, the isolation from ‘normal’ society.  The drama comes from ache the reader feels when the pressure of all this takes its inevitable toll on their love . The drama is not big and flashy, it is subtle and rooted in their individual characters. I felt a desperate need for their love to survive, but given all they had been through, I knew that that was not a given and it felt heartbreaking.

Beloved Ghost is a novel that speaks not just about Theo and Zacs, but all the gay men of that period who paid a terrible price for just being themselves. It pays homage to their bravery, the important part they played in both the war and after and how despite all this they were betrayed and prosecuted.

It is a tale of despair and pain, but also hope and courage, charting how progress came about too slowly for so many!

You can buy this novel from Amazon

About the author

Fiona Graph lives in London. Her first novel, ‘Things That Bounded’, was published in October 2020. ‘Beloved Ghost’ is her second novel.

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