EDMUND MARLOWE'S ALEXANDER’S CHOICE REVIEWED BY GARY SCOTT
Alexander’s Choice, a love story set at England’s most famous boarding-school, Eton College and written by old boy Edmund Marlowe, was published on 12 December 2012. The following review of it by Gary Scott was published on Amazon.com on 11 February 2015.
An engaging and thrilling love story. ***
I so very much want to give this book five stars and then go on to rave and gush over the experience of having reading it.
Regardless of one's sexuality or age, this is an engaging and thrilling love story. I found myself interested from the first few pages, then completely absorbed into this world and these characters. It got to the point where I would pick the thing up when waking in the middle of the night, just to read a page and a half more before having to give in to sleep again. The author spends (and ultimately misplaces) too much exposition on relatively minor characters, but these are minor bumps in an otherwise well-paved road. Most all characters, major and minor, are very clearly drawn and their actions organic and believable. One aches for students Alexander and Julian to finally fall into each other's arms and consummate their friendship and love. The end of their delicate, quite lovely emotional tango comes as a brutal, but very natural and understandable, shock -- and serves to nicely foreshadow the much more stunning final chapters. Young Alexander's subsequent relationship with handsome "beak" (Professor) Damian is beautifully told. The pair's discovery of each other unfolds gradually and quite sumptuously, as much a meeting of minds and spirits as eventual bodies. Theirs is a sweeping, romantic story that will carry you away, despite taking place almost entirely within the confines of a single, small apartment. Set aside the headlines-stealing pederastic reality if you must and you will find yourself deeply immersed in a classic, very well crafted, love story.
Unfortunately, this wonderful reading experience completely falls apart in the book's final few pages. The main characters are literally ripped away from each other and from us, and relatively minor and largely-neglected character suddenly rises to the fore to abruptly take over the narrative. The character is so non-existent to this point that we dive into pages of exposition -- the very fact that we're doing extensive exposition this late into a novel indicates we are in the hands of a first-time novelist. It turns out that the author has a political point to make, and while this point is a historically-natural and highly relevant one to the story, it is delivered far too last-minute and on-point to be effective. The frustrating thing is that this is a problem that could have been so easily fixed, simply by weaving the content of this last chapter throughout the book instead of stuffing it all suddenly into what feels like an afterthought-of-an-ending. How I wish the novel's Editor caught this one prior to publication! Such a solution would have woven a quite-relevant political and societal enemy into the story's tapestry, waiting to strike, and it would have provided much more impact to the real story's powerful, moving conclusion.
I would definitely recommend this novel on its many merits. Rip the last chapter away from the book before you begin reading and you will find yourself lost in one hell of a good first novel!