A Single Man

Earlier this year, courtesy of the Manchester Book Club, I made a bit of a discovery in Christopher Isherwood. Although Mr Norris Changes Trains received mixed reviews from the group, I, a girl who loves her stories with a great big splash of character, loved it.  Having seen the film adaptation of Isherwood’s A Single Man a few years back, I was mortified by my ignorance (thinking it was some Colin Firth/Tom Firth one-off filmic stroke of genius) and vowed to pick it up immediately.

‘Waking up begins with saying am and now.’

Vintage : Paperback : 2010 : Fiction : 152 pages
Vintage : Paperback : 2010 : Fiction : 152 pages

George is a middle-aged literature professor at a California University. Having lost his partner Jim in a terrible car accident, the aftermath of which, due to stigma against gay men in the 1960s, he could play no part, he is stumbling through daily life trying desperately to cope with his grief. Although I’m a staunch book before film girl, the resurgence that Isherwood’s beautiful novella has experienced since Tom Ford’s 2009 creation means I am absolutely busting to run and shake the man’s hand.

Once I had managed to surmount the impossible situation of there being absolutely no chapters (exactly where am I supposed to close up for the night!?) I could sit back and lose  myself in Isherwood’s wonderful meditation on a changing world. Using a desperately vulnerable man as the key witness to wild preoccupations such as war, love, education, grief and discrimination lends this book an immediacy and rawness that is incredibly moving.

Both of Isherwood’s novels I have experienced so far have been a perfect Relish-reading experience  Well written, emotive and  amusing; full of original, fascinating characters clinging desperately to the good left in life….in George’s case, even when those you love are gone…..

A beautiful book, 5 stars.

13 thoughts on “A Single Man

    1. Aw thanks! I actually think I veer on the more verbose side of things usually so thanks very much 🙂 I’m a great believer in not giving too much away though as books, especially as one as beautiful as A Single Man, should be discovered afresh by everyone.


  1. I almost watched the movie on a plane a couple of years ago, my mood was all wrong though and I didn’t pick it up again. You’ve given me the incentive to try again, and to read the book. Thank you!


    1. It’s a wonderful book and a beautiful film – it’s always a pleasant surprise when the film does an author justice 🙂 It is one for when you’re in a more intense, reflective mood though…. not ideal for a flight! Save a Jennifer Aniston film for that!


  2. This is one of those rare cases where the film and the book are as immense and beautiful as each other. I utterly adored both, both made me cry. Oddly though I have not read more Isherwood, and I should.


    1. I NEED to watch the film again. Though just make sure I’m not feeling melancholic AT ALL first as it even made me weepy and I never cry and anything. Am acquainting myself with the Berlin Chronicles. The book club were a bit indifferent on Mr Norris but I really enjoyed it.


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