In Memoriam

Books on Tape. Mar. 2023. 12:38 hrs. ISBN 9780593664711. $95. F
War is hell, love is love, and Christian Coulson’s intense narration of Winn’s poignant debut doesn’t let listeners forget either of these points. At the onset of World War I, British boarding school best friends Henry Gaunt and Sidney Ellwood have secret crushes on each other. Athletic Gaunt, who is in denial about his sexuality, doesn’t believe popular and poetic Ellwood takes relationships seriously. Ellwood, who’s always loved the stoic but seemingly touch-averse Gaunt, doesn’t want to ruin their friendship by telling him. At the behest of his half-German family and to avoid his feelings for Ellwood, Gaunt enlists in the English army. Months later, Ellwood and most of his school friends follow suit. Coulson tenderly portrays Gaunt and Ellwood’s longing for each other through internal dialogue and letters. Meanwhile, the leisurely pace of the school days gives way to horrifically brutal descriptions of the war front. In between some chapters are newspaper lists of the dead. As Coulson reads each name, an echo effect causes them to overlap, making these heart-rending segments even more tragic as he mentions several characters and actual World War I soldiers.
VERDICT A haunting, evocative audiobook that will linger in listeners’ minds long after the end.
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