Title: In The Privacy of their Home
Author: R.A. Padmos
Publisher: Manifold Press
Release: 1st November 2015
Genre: M/M (historical)
Dylan’s life is regulated and precise, and as a gay man in the England of the 1960s it’s also necessarily secretive; the law regarding homosexuality may have changed, but unfortunately society’s attitudes are slow to catch up. Meeting Max – younger and less inhibited – is a shock to Dylan’s system; suddenly his world, which has been black and white, explodes into vivid colour. But loving Max is not without difficulty; Max is an artist, talented and ambitious, and there’s no way someone as ordinary as Dylan can hold on to him for long … or is there?
OMG! This was beautiful! Absolutely exquisite! I’m so happy I stumbled across this little gem of a book. A book that will make you feel sad and happy all at the same time. It doesn't take very long to read but there is so much wonderful writing and emotion all crafted together in 123 pages it took my breath away and left me thinking about the story for days after. If a book gets me thinking about it days after I have read it then from me it deserves the highest accolades I can give.
It’s 1967, funnily enough the year I was born (now that little secret is out – lol!), but to think how things were for gay men at that time makes me realise how grateful I am for the life I’m able to lead today. Although most people will still connect the “swinging sixties” as the time of The Beatles, hippies, Jimmy Hendrix, Mary Quant, Twiggy, Afros, among other fun and fond memories. What did you do if you were gay? Were the memories also so fun? Only one answer to that; NO! It wasn’t fun at all! You hid it away as best as you could. Why? Well, being homosexual was still illegal but also in 1967 the law was abolished which made homosexuality no longer illegal in the UK. It was a very first step but as we know there was still a very long way to go. Sorry about the short history lesson but it’s important to understand the world as it was in which Dylan is living.
Dylan is your typical book keeper or office clerk. Mr Average, no one special who doesn’t draw any attention to himself, keeps himself to himself and likes it that way. But this isn’t because he is dull or boring but because he harbours a secret. The love that dare not speak its name! So he has become very nondescript of his own doing. When you start to read this book you’ll be thrown into Dylan’s world. The most tragic case of "Groundhog Day" I have ever read. Everyday the same routine, everyday a litany of boring and monotonous activities. He’s just existing and life is something other people do. He deludes himself that in this monochrome existence he is happy, but happiness is really something very different. With the wonderful writing craft of Ms Padmos your heart will just want to reach out and touch this forlorn character. You will want to comfort him, try to give him a little cheer as Dylan’s melancholic life is revealed to us. But he sees no other way out of his predicament being the way he is. Is forced to accept his lot in life.
I could feel the struggle and tragic fight battling within him. Good and evil battling things out in one persona. He knows what he is, no doubt there, but social conditioning doesn’t let him be himself. Seeking relief at the public toilets in a local park, this is the seedy nature of being gay, because of being forced to hide and go underground due to the law and attitudes of the day. His only relief is a quick hand or blow job in the public convenience, mixed with the fear and trepidation of being caught just to quell his desires and urges. Then after the act all the recriminations he feels for being something perverse and dirty is heartbreaking. Why? Well, that’s what you hear from everyone, you’re an abomination of nature. Again the emotional battles with one’s self but add to this the fear of being caught then your future does not look very bright at all. Then one day a young man starts at his company and Dylan’s life will change forever.
Max is in his early twenties some ten years younger than Dylan, not that Dylan being in his early thirties is by no means old. But Max is different. I just loved how Ms Padmos built this up. What do you do if your gay and don’t wish to be caught but still want to meet others? Then you have to be ever so subtle in your advances as you can’t be sure. You have to play a very patient game before you step over that mark where you give yourself away and leave yourself exposed to all kinds of ridicule and in the worst case arrest. You have to be so sure that the other person you’re talking to is of the same kind. This Ms Padmos delivered with such insight, sensitivity and longing it was painful to feel how these two would be a match made in heaven if one of them would be brave enough to take that leap of faith. But after almost three months of going to the park during their lunch break, sitting on a bench under a cherry tree and sharing their sandwiches the day arrives where they leave each other with no doubt where their interests for each other lie. The catalyst for this conversation being breached is the news that the act of homosexuality has now been repealed in parliament and is no longer illegal. Of course this doesn’t mean that attitudes will change over night either. It doesn’t mean they can break out the rainbow flags and go parading down the street. But I guess it would have been a small weight off their or anyone else’s shoulders at the time.
A wonderful romance ensues and I loved the way the sex plays out. If you’re not used to getting what you want then it’s trial and error at first. Exploring each other’s bodies properly for the first time. Now you can take all the time you need and do it as long as it is in the privacy of your home, hence the title, then at least you are not going to get arrested for it. All a matter of trial and error at first but leading up to something more vital and solid as they explore all the possibilities. Strengthening their relationship so than can’t be pulled apart. Max is younger and possibly a little more reckless than Dylan. But then Max hasn’t had to live under the radar for as long as Dylan has. I could feel Dylan’s anxiety and Max’s exuberance. Dylan not wanting to hold this young man back from a bright future but on the other hand being a coward and not giving Max the credit that is due. After all Max is a perfectly functioning adult capable of making his own decisions, but Dylan feels in the long term Max won’t be happy with him. Homosexual couples do not have relationships, homosexual men can not fall in love or have emotions that in anyway can be described as love. This is what he has been hearing all his life and has almost been conditioned into believing this by society. But Max is ready to take life by the horns and give it a good shaking and whether Dylan wants to except it or not he is also part of Max’s plans. Max can’t imagine a life without him, Dylan just needs to be pushed in the right direction. But yes, there is a HEA and one befitting the circumstances and time.
I could wax lyrical about this book all day. But then my review would never draw to a close. I can only implore you all to READ THIS BOOK! A book that will only fail to make the most cold hearted not feel something for Dylan, Max, their circumstances and fight to carve out a future for themselves as best they can. Ms Padmos has a writing talent that struck every chord with me. A real wordsmith who crafts every subtle feeling, emotion and situation with an belletristic empathy that is a rare find. With this one book she has gone straight on my list of favourite authors and I will be reading more from her for sure if this book is a sign of her other works. With this book she awoke so many emotions in me, made me feel real despair, happiness, passion and concern for each and every single character in this book. But the most for Dylan, Max and their story. This whole story, packed into 123 pages, is life affirming. It makes me grateful for everything I have today. Thank you Ms Padmos for a truly moving literary experience.
Meet R.A. Padmos
In no particular order: woman, writer, in a relationship with my wife since 1981 (though we had to wait until 2001 until we could actually get married), mother of two grown sons, owner of cats (I can pretend, can’t I?), reader and a lot more.
I started to write stories when I was nine or ten, and haven’t stopped ever since. I published a novel and other fiction and non-fiction. But the internet changed everything, because I discovered there’s a lot more women (and quite a few men) interested in reading and writing m/m stories. And so Ravages happened!