I'm a big fan of Bryan T. Clark's writing (see my review of Gideon's Wish) but this cover seemed to suggest a change of genre for him, and I approached with caution. I loved the premise though: an older gentleman with many years of bitter experience behind him, teaching the younglings what it was like in his day, seemed intriguing.
And I'm so glad I picked it up, because this is a truly wonderful story. Mikael and Elliot are a lovely would-be couple, each with their own challenges - Mikael is so busy, he barely knows who he is any more, and Elliot's autism can isolate him, making it difficult to form relationships. Both characters are sympathetic, likeable and you'll want them to get together, despite their inability to communicate at first. Their love is sweet, tender and beautiful.
But the star of this story has to be Walter, the grand old gentleman with a colourful past, now dying in splendid isolation and glad to talk to Elliot, who loves to listen to Walter's wisdom and memories.
Walter will break your heart - guaranteed, but the way it is done, is so fabulous, the whole book is a life-affirming, wonderful work, about found family and tolerance and respect for what the older gay generation can teach all of us, especially young, gay men. Heavy issues such as grief, loneliness, homophobia and racism have been dealt a deft touch, not hammered clumsily home, and the whole book feels seamless, a beautifully told story of a love just beginning and a life well-lived, through the darkness of the AIDS crisis, and the bigotry of the past. Now Walter's life is on the cusp of ending, which is tragic, yes, but also darkly poetic.
Hawthorne Manor sits in glorious splendor in San Franscisco, attracting a variety of disparate souls and loyal employees, each with their own stories and challenges. We discover them as the book progresses, and each one can tell us something about lives that are maybe totally different to ours.
And the ending... I can't give too much away. There will be tears, but also, a warm, happy hug. This is a bittersweet, beautiful novel. Gideon's Wish was gorgeous, and dealt with hard-hitting issues. This book does the same, but the elevated quality of writing makes it stand above, his other works, in my humble opinion.
Mikael Ferreira seems to have it all—a great career, looks, intelligence, and charm to boot. But his work as a full-time caregiver at Hawthorne Manor barely leaves him time to breathe, let alone date. Then a new employee arrives at the manor and makes Mikael question whether he’s been living at all or merely existing…
Elliot Olsson is Mikael’s polar opposite. Elliot’s autism has always made him feel isolated. Until now. Mikael truly sees him in a way no one ever has. Elliot wants to open his heart to Mikael and connect with him on a deeper level. But wanting won’t make it any easier to overcome the obstacles Elliot knows they’ll face as a couple…
As Mikael and Elliot’s story is beginning, eighty-eight-year-old Walter Hawthorne’s is coming to an end. But while his health is fading, his mind is sharp as ever—and he has a thing or two to share about life, intimacy, and love with the two young men who seem to know nothing about any of it…
Hawthorne Manor, a contemporary LGBTQ+ romantic novel, is an exploration of the foibles of aging, friendship, love, and the beauty that can exist in a found family. It features a house full of eccentric characters, witty banter, and a deeply emotional M/M romance. HEA guaranteed. Download today, and welcome to Hawthorne Manor.