WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
As Christmas approaches in a Northern mill town in 1987, three men confront who they are and what they want. Mark Lightcliffe, whose image of himself in a relationship has so far been drawn almost exclusively from an aftershave advert and Jonathan Illingworth, a handsome and successful young lawyer, must come to terms with their true feelings. Meanwhile, Gerald Illingworth, Jonathan's father, is forced to face up to his own, darker secret that threatens to destroy everything he holds dear.
Achingly nostalgic and acutely observed, Tim Bairstow's highly acclaimed second novel is by turns sexy, poignant and hilarious. 'What Do You Want for Christmas' strikes deep emotional chords for anyone who has ever been young and in love and not just at Christmas!
There’s certainly no evidence of the ‘difficult second novel’ syndrome with this gritty new book from Tim Bairstow.
Set in West Yorkshire in the 1980’s, the story focuses on three very different gay men coming to terms with their sexuality.
As best man at his brother’s wedding, Mark is a sweet working class lad who longs for nothing more than the kind of heterosexual domestic bliss he sees his older brother entering into; while Jonathan Illingworth and his father Gerald are wealthy solicitors who, apparently, have got everything going for them, but secretly, are living double lives.
When Mark and Jonathan meet on a double-date arranged by their girlfriends, the electricity between the two handsome young men is instant and the girls quickly feel themselves pushed out.
Meanwhile Gerald is facing his own heart-breaking challenges as he is forced to face up to the sham that his marriage has always been.
‘What Do You Want For Christmas?’ is vividly evocative of Yorkshire in the ‘80s, the shine of the wet streets in the orange street lamps, pizza houses with candles stuck in to old wine bottles that rank as a pretty impressive date when Christmas is just around the corner. As with his first novel, ‘The Shadow of Your Wings,’ Bairstow’s characterisation is faultless. The two girlfriends are beautifully and sympathetically drawn and I felt really engaged with their stories, even whilst I was rooting for the two young men to find a way to be together.
There are some serious themes, along with some light and very funny moments. The sex scenes sizzle and some of the characters, at least, find true love in the end.
With his very real urban settings, strong characterisation and dry Northern humour, Tim Bairstow reminds me strongly of the much-loved Yorkshire authors of the 1960’s: Keith Waterhouse, Stan Barstow and John Brain. What more could anyone want for Christmas.... or any other time of year?
Tim Bairstow is rapidly becoming my favourite new author. I loved his last novel, so I downloaded this as soon as I saw that it was available on Kindle.
It's another great read - well written, with a strong romantic storyline, compelling and believable characters, and some beautifully written sex scenes that cover the range from gently erotic to tragicomic.
I found myself cheering on the two central characters, Mark and Jonathan, while also having a lot of sympathy with Sally and Lisa, the girls who loved them. And I felt really sad for Jonathan's poor trapped father, Gerald, and Mr Wainstall, the bookshop owner.
Bairstow's writing took me straight back to Yorkshire in the 1980's, the shine of the wet streets in the street lamps, pizza houses with candles in old wine bottles, and people who still used terms like 'hummers' and 'heckers like'. With his gritty urban settings, strong characterisation and dry northern humour, he reminds me strongly of the much-loved Yorkshire authors of the 1960's, Keith Waterhouse, Stan Barstow and John Braine.
As with his first book, there are strong themes here of love, fantasy and obsession; the compromises people make (or don't make) to fit in; and the terrible toll homophobia has exacted on our older generations.
I loved it!
P B - Amazon Review
Having really enjoyed Tim's first book - Shadow of Your Wings - I was looking forward to his lastest, and wasn't dissapointed in any way. This is another beautifully, sensentivly written story, I really began to feel I knew the characters from early pages and suffered or rejoiced with them all the way through. The characters on the perifery of the story are given depth and understanding also, which all gives the book a very full enjoyable read. Yorkshire - my home county - can be proud of this new author, who I am sure will soon be on the top of peoples "look out for the next" list. It certainly is on mine.
C J - Amazon Review
This is another great novel from Tim Bairstow. Romantic yet sad in parts where the dilemma is being accepted or being oneself. Sadness for two girls in love with men who suffer this dilemma and an older man who has taken the "normal" and acceptable path but denied himself for years. The story is deftly and sensitively written throughout. A page turner for sure and like Bairstow's previous book this leaves you wanting more.
Angie - Amazon Review