Review - Acclamation

book cover


by Vee Hoffman

My rating:

Volume 1 of Acclamation

Tags: Contemporary

Posted in Book Reviews on December 11, 2012

Still stinging from the loss of his lover four years ago, Michael Cassidy takes a job as an English teacher at a Catholic school in a small English town. Although only 28 years old, he’s more or less given up on life and is hiding away from it, thinking that his one great love is already behind him.

However, life isn’t quite through with Mr Cassidy. One day he discovers that he lives next door to one of his students, Dominic Butler. He hadn’t really taken notice of the young man in his upper sixth form (a high school senior, for you non-English folks) class before, but as circumstances conspire for the two to spend time together, Michael finds himself ever more attracted to the young man. As it becomes clear that the feelings are mutual, Michael is torn between his feelings of love, the pain of his memories, and his responsibilities as Dominic’s friend and teacher.

“Acclamation” is a deceptively simple story, told in exquisite, intricate detail. The tale is related in the first person by Michael, who can go on at length about every last detail of the object of his affection. Although potentially tedious, the author somehow avoids this, while also making it clear that the narrator is very aware of his own infatuation. At times, he can paint Dominic as perfection personified, but then it’s also apparent that the young man, while possessing a strength and maturity that is unusual in one his age, is still very much a boy struggling with the feelings of first love, and being gay.

The writing often has a rather melancholy tone, which frequently reminded me of Evelyn Waugh. This comparison was helped along by themes which in very broad strokes reflect some of the same undercurrents of Brideshead Revisited. However, this is a starkly contemporary story, with many literary and musical allusions from the modern age.

While the plot is full of potential drama, if you’re expecting it to devolve into a melodramatic soap opera you’ll be disappointed. Michael and Dominic are acutely aware of the need to keep their budding relationship a secret, and there is a great deal of angst from Michael as he questions and analyzes his feelings, but hopefully it’s not too much of a spoiler to say that there never is a big moment of discovery. At least, not in this book. “Acclamation” is the first of four books in a series following the same two characters. This opening chapter ends at a critical turning point that could pull the two even closer together, or it could draw them apart as painful memories are pulled to the surface.

If the quality of writing alone were the basis of my ratings, “Acclamation” would definitely get five stars, but I expect a lot more than just a well-written story. I want an emotional connection as well, and on this score the book doesn’t quite hit the mark, for me. Although the author tries to introduce a few flaws, Dominic is still just a little too good to be true. Beyond that, despite the almost endless descriptions Michael gives us of every last nuance he discovers of the boy’s body, I still found at the end that I didn’t have a clear picture of what Dominic looked like. I had lots of pieces that didn’t add up to a uniform whole. Also, while Michael’s constant introspection may have been intended to draw us in, it actually had the opposite effect, of putting some distance between the character and reader. We’re almost too far inside his head to really connect, in a strange sort of way.

Still, it will be interesting to see where the author takes Michael and Dominic, although I don’t think I will be in any hurry to read the next book. At around 400 pages in print, this is a very long book that is a lot to take in, especially when reading for review. If the next book, “Reclamation” is anywhere near this length, I’ll need to have a bit of a break before diving in.

“Acclamation” may be purchased from Amazon and Smashwords.