The Real Tom Brown's Schooldays - Chris Kent

Cerisaye's Review:

This, gentle reader, affectionately parodies that stalwart of English literature, the boy's school story, based of course upon the granddaddy of the genre, "Tom Brown's School Days", by Thomas Hughes. Part of a series by Chris Kent, it follows his novellas, "The Boys of Swithin's Hall" and "Boys in Shorts" and reveals in adolescent glory, freed from Victorian censorship, the real Tom Brown.

The book improves on the original, which frankly most of us today would find rather dull, but it isn't for everyone and is totally unPC, so beware. If pederasty and peons of praise to sex between underage boys offend you, do not under any circumstances pick up this novel because you will be shocked and outraged. I happen to think you'll miss something very special but I understand that it probably entrances or repels depending on the attitude of the reader. Personally I found the book's focus on healthy young boys discovering sex absolutely compulsive and delicious fun, like Death by Chocolate, you know you shouldn't but impossible to resist.

It's a short book, little more than 150 pages which I devoured in one hugely satisfying bite. The book rather relies on an acquaintance with the intricacies of the English public school system, with its layered hierarchy, Head Master, masters, prefects, boys. Younger boys are called upon to serve their seniors in various ways as 'fags', a system open to abuse in cruel hands. Tom, however, is very lucky for he catches the attention of senior prefect, Robert Lawton, and soon finds himself escaping half an hour of dreaded prep (homework) each evening to perform his duties for the older boy.

Tom is smitten with the good-looking and kind Lawton and it's the beginning of a very warm and special friendship. Tom and his friends are matter-of-fact about sex. They of course study the classics, paying close attention to the Greeks with their love of beautiful boys. Sexual experimentation is both an amusement and a diversion from homesickness and the harsh discipline of school life. We follow Tom's progress to the book's electrifying climax when he and his friends confront the nefarious goings on of Mr. Cornish, English master and Rev. Boulind, chaplain.

I highly recommend this moving story that will make you laugh one minute then cry for the plight of these poor boys. A deeply homoerotic tale, there's far more to it than lashings of graphic sex. Neither does it plunge headlong into the nitty gritty. Sex among Tom and the other boys is affirmative and empowering. It grows out of genuine affection and love, skilfully contrasted with exploitative relationships in which adults take advantage of positions of responsibility to satisfy carnal lust for young boys. Tom matures from frightened child to the threshold of manhood, taking succour where he can. He finds strength and courage to overcome adversity, never compromising or behaving other than honourably towards his fellows, setting an example by helping those less able to defend themselves.

Too easy to dismiss as pornography, the novel and its enchanting characters will linger in my mind for a long time.

Ladymol's Review:

This book is as delicious as the youthful flesh it describes.

Re-writing Tom Brown's Schooldays, exposing the hotbed of pulsating male lust that we only see hints of in that book, this book is quite… amazing!

I have no idea how this book will be received in the States. I've already had some firsthand experience of the different attitudes towards stories of child sex when I wrote a story of sex that had a fifteen year-old character (that she was a beam of magical light turned into a human seemed to make no difference to the quantity of hate mail I received).

The youngest protagonist in this book is eleven (although an incident with an eight-year old is recalled), and the oldest seventeen. Perhaps the English have such a long history of flirting with pederasty that we can accept this more willingly. This is what went on in English public schools. Perhaps we're not so eager to put some perfect gloss over the realities of our lives as Americans sometimes seem to be. Like our teeth, we prefer our stories natural? And then, we're all adults, reading for a fantasy life we don't intend to act out. If you are uncomfortable with that distinction then I suspect this book won't be the one for you.

So, the book…. Tom Brown is a rather sweet, innocent boy who is joining his first public school late, eleven, which makes him stand out to start with. Coupled with that, he is new-money and tries desperately to fit into the bizarre world he's joined. He's sexually very naive, as you might expect from an ordinary eleven year old: hearing, but not understanding, the sexual talk around him. He is befriended by Lawton, a senior boy, when he becomes Lawton's fag (an English public school tradition of having junior boys become un-paid domestic servants for older ones). Gradually, with Lawton's loving help, he emerges from his shell, and the sexual life around him is his for the taking.

In some ways, this book describes similar events to The Initiation (schoolboy sex), which Cerisaye and I panned so thoroughly. And it's the difference between these two books that shows what good writing can do to turn a sexual encounter between young boys from exploitative porn to believable passion. Every boy in his book behaves like a boy: endearing, earnest, muddled, enthusiastic, innocent, cunning-that delicious mix that is the young human male condition. When they have sex, it's fumbling and earthy and sweet and real. In one wonderfully funny scene, Theo (Tom's best friend), sucking Tom off for the first time, thinks that he doesn't care if he does get pregnant: they'll run away and raise the baby together. They explore and learn like boys do, wondering if their desires will continue into adulthood, realising that they probably won't, but that marriage and duty await them. It's a fleeting time for them, and although that pre-war, "we are the doomed generation" theme is not really explored, it's there nevertheless. They will grow up. They will lose their childhood innocence-expressed, ironically, in the willing way they use their bodies for gratification.

I liked Tom, I liked Lawton and Theo and Ben and all the brave boys in this novel. Very cleverly, the sex is contained within the circle of boys. When the masters become involved, that's clearly shown to be exploitative and wrong. This book is Now and Then without the psychological harm, without the pain of that novel. Okay, it's not literature anywhere near the level of that book or, for example, Metes and Bounds or As Meat Loves Salt or the Coming Storm, but it's far and away above the level of porn.

If sex between young boys, very graphically described, doesn't squick you out, I highly recommend this book. But you've been warned! No death threats please if you do buy this book and discover it's graphic sex between very young boys! My poor little streak of light brought me enough death threats for one lifetime.

Publisher: GLB ISBN: 1879194392

Buy It From Amazon uk here

or Amazon USA here:

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