- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 7 hours and 51 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Riptide Publishing
- Audible.com Release Date: October 19, 2017
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B076HY2K81
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Out!: Shamwell Tales Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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By J.L. Merrow
This third volume of J.L. Merrow’s <b>Shamwell Tales<b> is, for me, the best of an excellent series so far. Once again we’re in the quaint, green country village of Shamwell, within easy reach of London and all its big-city problems. And once again Ms. Merrow takes a setting worthy of Jane Austen and spins a tale of social mores and romance that is fully invested in the modern world.
Mark Nugent is a not-yet-forty father of an angry fourteen-year-old daughter. Patrick is a local boy who lives with his mum and has never had a serious relationship. At twenty-five he’s not young enough to be Mark’s son, but his mother is only five years older than Mark is. And that’s just the first complication. Patrick and Mark meet at a local men’s organization, the Shamwell Spartans. The absurdity of the group is balanced by the male camaraderie and local fundraising they offer.
Mark is a single father because he broke up his fourteen-year marriage by coming out to his wife. He’s one of those men who married because he was just bisexual enough to get his girlfriend pregnant while on what he assumed was a friendly holiday. I put it this way because Mark identifies as gay, in spite of the marriage and the child. He embodies what I think of as the Kinsey 5, mostly gay, but not entirely. Tricky part is, he’s never had any sort of relationship with a man (the sad reason for which we find out in due course).
Patrick, on the other hand, is a comfortable bisexual, finding potential attraction in men or women without prejudice or preference. I’d say he’s a Kinsey 3 or 4, fully bisexual and content to be so. He’s never had a longterm relationship, made wary of the very idea for reasons that are also revealed to us as the story unfolds.
If I make a point of this, it’s because the author herself does so. The gently accepting atmosphere of Shamwell is punctuated with crusty old heteros as well as more hip younger ones—who nonetheless find the whole bisexuality thing confusing. Patrick and Mark seem to be offered up as exemplars of bisexual diversity, while Mark’s adorable former assistant David—dismissively known at their London office as Camp David by their homophobic boss—is pretty and fey and not at all Mark’s type. Don’t get me wrong, Mark actually loves David, but is not attracted to him.
Add to this mix Lex, Patrick’s assistant at the local charity organization he runs. Lex is gender fluid, something that puzzles Mark, but is fully understood by Patrick and by Mark’s daughter, Fen. Lex is also (to my American ear) very working class in speech and completely hilarious and smart. All of my out-loud laughs were wrung out of their banter in the course of the story.
Class plays an important role here as is Ms. Merrow’s wont (and as it was for Miss Austen). Mark left a hugely lucrative career in London as a tax man for corporations, while Patrick works for a local charity that raises funds to help disabled adults. Mark is trying to make up for years of neglecting his daughter (hiding, one suspects, from his marriage in relentless workaholism); but he is determined not to let his gay side out, because he wants to protect his daughter from such unpleasant realities.
So it’s not just bisexuality and class but internalized homophobia that Merrow throws on the table for our amusement and edification. This fits right into the age gap issue, because 39 and 25 are not so far apart in years as they are in terms of life experience. Patrick and Mark have grown up in two different worlds in terms of attitudes toward homosexuality. Mark learned lessons very different from those that Patrick has. (This, I confess, was a wee bit of a stretch for me, since I came out at 20 in the 1970s, and seem to have existed in an entirely different world.) Their outlooks on their sexuality as well as their perspective on the ethics of work are the core hurdles to be jumped. Merrow makes the most of it, giving her readers the most complex and thought-provoking book of the series.
Patrick is a hold over from the second book--the guy who stepped in a rabbit hole during a cricket match and snapped his leg. Mark is new to town, escaping from his job and ex-wife to try to start anew with Fen. You can read all about it in the blurb, which really gives too much detail.
My job is to tell you if the blurb is really spot-on, and whether you will enjoy this additional little romp through the village of Shamwell. The answer is an emphatic "yes!"
Though both Mark and Patrick are pigheaded, author Merrow puts them in enough credible situations so that their romance blossoms, crashes, and refreshes, lovingly. Rather like a nice cuppa.
The most intersting part of me, aside of the setting and the cast of characters in the series which I like very much, was the aspect of the story that dealt with what it meant to be queer and coming of age in different decades. This conflict between the heroes was meaningful and compelling.
There is a lot of fun and dashing around and push and pull.
It make me happier this book need to be longer. I wanted much more couple time after Marc and Patrick were all sorted out and really together. I wanted to see them in a full on relationship to earn the I love you
I think the ancillary characters were much more interesting than the main characters. Fen and Lex and David, even Rex were more believable than Patrick and Mark. And if Mark interjected just one more "God yes!", I might not have been able to finish reading it.
I continue to love the village setting,
Most recent customer reviews
I like J.L. Merrow, I swear, but the Shamwell series has turned out to be a major dud for me.
This book was fine... it was fine...Read more