Finding Faith - Andrew Barriger
Sometimes you donít want to be challenged. Sometimes you want to eat chocolate and watch a slushy romantic movie dressed in comfy clothes.† In this deceptively simple novel, the author has offered us all this but with a gay theme. Gay doesnít have to be angst and issues. It can be hometown and cookies.
Taylor, a successful city lawyer, comes home early after winning a significant case to find his boyfriend in bed with someone else.† Itís the only emotional ripple on an otherwise smooth sea. He moves to the country and meets Tom, a local young man putting himself through school. He goes to dances, helps coach little league, buys a house, puts down roots and falls in love.
Itís a delightful and easy to read novel that is like cleansing your palette before you move onto more emotionally challenging ones.† I actually couldnít put it down and stayed up way too late one night to see how Taylor and Tom (who is still in denial about being gay) work it out.
What was particularly refreshing about this book was that even the characters werenít all that interested in being gay. Taylor never tells any one that he is, but he would if directly asked. Well, I donít go around introducing myself by saying what my sexuality is either; most people donít, and itís refreshing to find that gay can sometimes just be human.
Itís one of my favourite themes to see a straight man being gradually brought out to admit that heís gay, and Tomís friendship with Taylor is delightful. They become best friends before any issue of their respective sexuality has to define them as more than that.
I would particularly recommend this book for anyone interested in reading a gay novel, but not wanting anything too in-your-face. Other than one lovely kiss, thereís no sex in this book whatsoever. Thereís love and friendship, and sometimes, as with chocolate, thatís just enough.
A feel-good romance celebrating lasting love, tolerance and understanding, that says follow your heart, and cleverly manages to avoid being sugary sweet, despite the main charactersí fondness for chocolate croissants and gooey desserts.† If youíre looking for a book to give to a relative or a teen-ager you could do a lot worse than this novel about a really nice guy looking for love, who happens to be gay but refuses to let that define him.† Sex doesnít feature much, and nothing remotely explicit, so imagination has free rein when the scene fades to black.
Taylor Connolly appears to have everything. Heís approaching 30, good-looking, with all the trappings of an affluent lifestyle, including a prized Jaguar car.† An up-and-coming lawyer, he wins a landmark sexual discrimination case, and rushes home to celebrate with long-term partner, Ryan, a nearly qualified doctor.† Taylorís world crashes when he finds his lover with a younger man.† In his bed, and using his pillow.
Now Taylor hates conflict, just canít cope. He cuts Ryan from his life then flees the city for a small town nearby, where Gen Puissant, offers refuge while he recovers from the shock of the break-up. Taylor goes to Gen because she wonít judge or pressure him. †Gen is single but Taylor knows she understands nothing can happen between them, just good friends.†
I think Taylor on some level knew about Ryanís cheating.† He accepted second best, for fear of being alone, reluctant to ride that dating merry-go-round. Living with Ryan involved compromise. Taylor is out, but doesnít like to shout about it, which annoyed his partner.† Taylor hates clubs and bars where he feels like a slab of meat.† He just wants to blend in, and find someone to share his life and give his heart. The strength of this story owes much to a positive message that weíre all the same, regardless of sexual preference.
Taylor meets Tom McEwan, personable young man behind the counter at the local bakery. They hit off straight away, and pretty soon Taylor is playing baseball with Tom, who coaches 10 year olds.† What follows is a page-turning account of a friendship that may or may not be something deeper.
Taylor and Tom, are very sympathetic characters, put into a small town setting equally attractive.† Itís the sort of place we want to live. Comfortable but not flashy homes, family-friendly, and welcoming to outsiders, so safe you can leave doors unlocked and everyone looks out for others.† It might not sound like the place for a gay man to find love, but Taylor isnít looking, reeling from rejection and betrayal. He is happy to be seen as ďThe Jag ManĒ, not labelled by his sexuality, though heís not ashamed of what he is.†
Taylor thinks Tom is gay, but the younger man says nothing to encourage him to think he has feelings for Taylor.† Taylor is happy to let things develop, or not, afraid to push too hard in case Tom takes fright and he loses the man heís fallen in love with, against expectation.† Conflict occurs when Taylor meets Neil Gardener, wealthy Adonis whoís openly gay and clearly regards Taylor as a challenge.
Taylorís habit of self-analysis and mental cross-examination makes a useful device.† Mostly told in third person, from Taylorís POV, there are switches that inform rather than distract. Taylor and Tom obviously dominate the story, but supporting characters get their due, rounding the picture of small town America as a kindly caring place to make a life, whoever you are, as long as youíre true to yourself and treat others well.
What lifts this novel above lightweight romance is sharp, easily flowing writing that balances sweetness with humour, never taking itself too seriously.† Taylor even says his ordinary life couldnít be the subject of a book.† There are forces at work, shaping and guiding our lives, sometimes taking us unexpected places.† Itís no coincidence thereís a character called Faith.† The book has depth just below its read-in-one-sitting surface that makes you think after you finish reading.† It left me wanting more, which is good because thereís a sequel.† Highly recommended.