Title: Chasing the Swallows
Author: John Inman
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages
At a Glance: Just because this novel may not have been my cup of tea, that does not diminish the breathtaking scope and treatment of a love story that spans decades.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Sometimes an entire lifetime can be spent in the arms and heart of one person. It is not so with imaginations, for they go anywhere they wish.
David Ayres and Arthur Smith are about to find that out. When they meet as young men within the garden walls of the Mission of San Juan Capistrano, one man from one continent, one from another, an uncontrollable attraction brings them together. But it is something stronger than attraction that holds them there. It is love. Pure and simple.
After forty years, when the fabric of their existence together finally begins to fray because of David’s imaginary infidelities, it is with humor and commitment that they strive to remain in each other’s heart.
And turning fantasy into reality, they find, is the best way to do it.
Review: I feel it’s important to remind ourselves that we should review with the thought in mind that objectivity is the goal. While it’s nice to know if a reviewer liked a book, I think it’s more important to know a book’s strengths and, in turn, the author’s skill at writing a solid and convincing story.
There comes a time in any relationship where the romance dulls, where it takes just a bit more work to stay connected to the other person and maintain that “spark” that brought you together in the first place. For some, this is easy to do, for others, it takes a shock or two along the way to remember just how much our spouse means to us. For David Ayres, it took the idea of nearly losing the man he loved to pull him from a deeply rooted and routine fantasy life where he imagined himself in sexually compromising situations. Fantasy was David’s addiction and as we all know, what really faces us each morning across the bed can rarely live up to the fantasies that play out in our heads.
Luckily for David, his husband Arthur had no such problem. You see, David fulfilled every fantasy for Arthur. He loved David completely and with such tenderness that forgiving his husband those routine sexual musings was commonplace. But something else was afoot in David and Arthur’s marriage, a thief of sorts had entered their life, and it would prompt such change, such devastating awareness, that David would not only abandon the fantasies that he so richly enjoyed, he would recommit himself to loving Arthur as fully as Arthur did him.
Chasing The Swallows unfolds the life of two men now in their sixties from the time they first met to the present day. Interwoven with current day life, we discover step-by-step the journey these two have taken to arrive where they are today. There are moments of such tenderness, a discovery of a strong and lasting love, and yes, times of pain and hurt, of lashing out at one another and nearly losing the love they both so desperately wanted and found in each other.
Arthur was so incredibly patient with the wandering mind and heart of his husband, David. In turn, David lost touch with what was always right before him, the center of his joy, the love of his life. How he lost it was as gradual as how it grew, and, thankfully, David discovered before it was too late that any good and healthy thing needs nurturing and tending, or it will wither and die. Due to Arthur’s fierce loyalty and deep well of love, David was never without a reminder of just what it was that he was slowly destroying with his endless fantasies and lusts. And so, step-by-step, we are given this intimate view of how two men keep their love alive over the span of several decades.
By using flashbacks, John Inman keeps the story moving and the desire to see how the characters’ lives played out fresh and interesting. But, this author also does not shy away from showing us the darker underbelly of long-term relationships, and just what compromises and adjustments need to be made to keep love alive and help it to endure. This was a gritty, realistic story that spoke of great highs and equally deep lows in the life of two men who were determined to remain in each other’s lives and love each other fiercely.
My one criticism is small but important. I felt there were times that the story leapt from one decade to another without clearly delineating where we were headed and where we ended up. At times, I was unsure if we were in the present, or midway, or back at the beginning of Arthur and David’s relationship. It was not always clear to me where we were in the time continuum of their past and present. However, this did not happen often and had just a minor impact on my enjoyment of the novel overall.
I feel it is important, before I close this review, to state two facts about this novel and my very subjective feelings about it and this author. I really enjoy John Inman’s body of work, he is an auto-buy for me, and I take such pleasure in reading his imaginative and lush stories. However, I personally had great difficulty with Chasing The Swallows. Suffice it to say that I did not care for David very much by novel’s end. I felt him to be selfish and callous toward a man who would love him despite his less than kind treatment of the same. However, just because this novel may not have been my cup of tea, that does not diminish the breathtaking scope and treatment of a love story that spans decades. For that alone, this novel is one you may want to check out.
You can buy Chasing the Swallows here: