If youíve been following our
reviews, youíll know that Quinn is one of our favourite authors. ďMetes
and BoundsĒ, his youthful novel of coming out, and ďBack
Where He StartedĒ, his thoughtful, astounding
novel of middle age love are two of my favourites on the whole list.
The Good Neighbor shows yet
again another side of Quinnís writing. This one is a very restrained story
of middle class, middle age America, yet the passion simmers beneath the
surface. Itís almost as if Quinn is sensing something in his own life,
some sort of crisis approaching that he hasnít quite worked out and never
really resolves with these characters.
Ostensibly itís a very simple
story. Two couples living next door to each other. One partner of each
works, the other is stay-at-home. The stay at home pair begin an affair.
Where the twist comes, of course, is that one couple is gay, and the affair
is between two men.
Austin has lost his job, and
Meg, his wife, has become the breadwinner. At home most of the day, he
begins to watch, obsessively, the gay couple next door, particularly Rory,
the pretty boy.
Quinn mixes an exploration
of the relationships between heterosexual couples when roles reverse in
with the main plot of the blossoming affair between the two men. Iím not
entirely sure the mix worked for me. I read gay novels so I donít have
to read about women and their various concerns.
The fascinating and very sexy
part of the novel was ďstraightĒ Austinís growing obsession with the beautiful
Rory. I wished it had been dragged out a little longer Ė that delicious
anticipation, the will he/wonít he moments. Austinís timing is remarkable,
for his interest in Rory coincides with Rory suddenly needing something
else in his life. That something becomes Austin.
The relationship between Rory
and his lover Bruno is remarkable. Itís mature, sexy, difficult and almost
abusive, yet so not at the same time. I loved the scenes with them
together, despite also wanting Rory and Austin to work out. Iím convinced
(and sincerely hopeful) that Quinn had a sequel in mind when he wrote
the resolution of this tangled web. The novel cries out for more Rory
and Bruno in the fallout of the affair.
Quinn remains one of my favourite
authors although this novel was more of a sideward move rather than a
dramatic confirmation of his amazing writing talent.†
enjoyed bits of this novel but it's not up to the standard of Quinn's
earlier books. Light reading, undemanding, with a simplified writing style.
There are flashes of the beautiful writing, deft characterisation and
sparkling dialogue I'd expect from Quinn but the rest is pedestrian and
that annoyed me. We're told too much, as if Quinn lacked confidence we
could understand without spelling everything out. There are 4 main characters,
2 complete caricatures, all of them materialistic and shallow, affluent
middle-aged suburbanites. The story is predictable, has no staying power
and the resolution too easy. I read gay romantic fiction online a lot
better, and itís free.
However, one shining light makes up for all that- the central relationship
between a 40 year-old straight guy and his gay next door neighbour. I
recommend the novel for this alone. Beautifully drawn, very touching,
so real it must reflect personal experience. The only part of the story
to take my breath away and leave me wondering what happened next. I just
wish Quinn had made this the sole focus of the story because itís the
strongest part without doubt.
It's wonderful to read another book from Quinn that shows middle-aged
characters with active and interesting lives and new opportunities, still
growing, not mourning lost youth and settling for a slow decline!
When Meg & Austin, and their boys Noah & Josh, move into their
dream house on a fancy Florida gated estate they're surprised to find
a gay couple next door. It turns out they'd all met before, back when
they were at college, though it's only Austin who really remembers beautiful
auburn haired Rory and his macho lover Bruno. The story is about what
happens when two of them cross boundaries, literal & metaphorical,
that separate their homes and personal lives, to mix friendship and sex,
threatening existing relationships.
I couldnít stand Meg- weíre talking pantomime Boo! Hiss! villainy. Okay
I was never going to like the woman who comes between two boys in their
relationship, but Quinn just goes way over the top with the ball-breaking,
career obsessed, sexually repressed, homophobic, control-freakery. Sheís
a BITCH. Surely itís possible to write about a guy having a crisis of
masculinity without resorting to caricature? Some of the things she says
and does just defy belief. Bruno is just as cardboard, but much more sympathetic.
I DID like that he has 3 straight brothers and HIS marriage is the strongest,
as pointed out by his supportive mother. Rory is just too saintly to be
believable, though I liked him. He has all the Ďfeminineí qualities Meg
lacks, of course. Heís the ideal wife.
Austin wants to find again what he had with a buddy when he was 15 but
too scared to enjoy, not just sex but intimacy and emotional connection.
Rory is betrayed by Bruno and flattered by Austinís interest. They use
each other but itís much more than that. Quinn draws this exquisite relationship
with fine brushstrokes in marked contrast with the crude daubing of their
respective partners. The sex is good, except the annoying way Austin has
to think of Meg every time, comparing her girlparts with Rory. Realistic
too, as Austin doesnít just leap into bed with Rory. For Rory, too, their
relationship stirs memories, but not, in his case, good ones: HE was the
gay boy used then rejected by scared and confused straight buddies (like
Austin) who couldnít mix sex with friendship. Old wounds that still havenít
There is a sizeable group of men-who-have-sexĖwith-men but canít LOVE
them. Austin is not one of those, and thatís what makes his story interesting.
I hated Meg so much I didnít want Austin to stay with her, couldnít in
fact see WHY he would- she tells her sons gay people are filthy and washes
Noahís male smell off her hands! I really liked how Quinn shows the relationship
between Austin and his sons. Austin has been main carer since his job
changed and has much to offer his boys even if their mother can't see
The novel raises important questions about marriage, sexuality, love and
friendship. Questions dealt with rather too neatly by an ending that didnít
satisfy me. I just didn't buy it. The book does effectively show gay relationships
and marriages as subject to the same pressures as straight ones. It's
a pity Quinn's execution just isn't up to his previous work.