Saturday, August 21, 2010


Floortje Zwigtman’s novel ”Tegenspel” (”Defence”) from 2007 is the second of three in her series about Adrian Mayfield, a young gay man living in Victorian London. When I read the first of the novels - ”Schijnbewegingen” (”Tricks of the Trade”) - I was sure that I had never read anything quite as good and I was curious if Zwigtman could keep up the pace in volume two. Now I know, that she can. This Dutch author is a bit of a wonder and I’m quite surprised that she hasn’t been translated into English, yet.

I read volume two of her Adrian Mayfield books in German. Here the title of the book is ”Versuch einer Liebe” (“Attempts of Love”), a title that is just as fitting as the original one. The year is 1894, the place London and Adrian Mayfield is now 17 years old. He has found what he believes is true love with the moral and high-principled artist Vincent Farley, but the problem is that the past is catching up with Adrian. He knows that if Vincent ever finds out that Adrian has once worked in a male brothel, their relationship will be over.
To avoid his former colleagues and blackmailers Adrian moves back to The King’s Arms, the pub that used to be his dad’s, but is now run by Adrian’s first love Peter. Again Adrian’s past catches up with him as Peter is now married and Peter hates gays. At the same time it is clear to Adrian, that his lover Vincent sees homosexuality as a shameful disease from which you have to try to get cured.
Adrian gets work as a journalist, but when he has to cover the trial against Oscar Wilde regarding his love affair with the young Lord Bosie, all hell breaks loose. Adrian has nowhere to run and he is about to lose everything he has ever loved.

Floortje Zwigtman’s second Adrian Mayfield-novel is as good as the first one, but darker and a lot more disturbing. Although the books are regarded a youth books in Holland, I don’t think they are particularly aimed at young people as the subject and the darkness are very mature. In this volume two you get a deeper insight into the characters and their pasts, especially Adrian’s and Vincent’s, and what you get to see is not always pleasant.
The novel takes many unexpected twists and turns and Zwigtman isn’t afraid of taking the story places where other authors wouldn’t dare to tread. At the same time the novel is very well researched and the trial of Oscar Wilde is a great document of Victorian (double-)standard. Personally I can’t wait to read the third and final volume of the Adrian Mayfield-series. Again I have to reward the book six out of five stars: ******


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