This Ground Which Was Secured at Great Expense is a First World War tale, the time is the beginning of the twenty century, and as I often say, you can feel the changing in the air: the soldiers, and in particular the officers, are more knights than war-meat and honour is still a concept taken into consideration.
Nicholas Southwell is a member of nobility and while he is in love with his estate manager Paul Haskell, he thinks this love unrequited; plus there is the war in France and every men worthy of that name feels as he needs to enlist. Even if Nicholas denies it when Paul suggests the idea, I also think that Paul’s pacifist ideas don’t fit well with Nicholas’s heroic idea of what is war. Truth to Paul, he is unfit to enlist due to a trouble to his leg, so in any case there was no chance for him.
At French’s front, Nicholas meets Philip, another fellow officer, another man from nobility… again, I don’t want to be unkind with Nicholas, but I think that is fast shifting of interest from Paul to Philip is also due to the fact that Philip fits better the idea of companion that Nicholas has in mind. True, Paul is not so welcoming of the hero when Nicholas comes back home on a leave, and instead Philip is there, willing to comfort the broken heart nursed by both of them for different men (also Philip has another lover, Fergal).
In a way or the other, it will not be Nicholas that will choose, events bigger than him will path his way out of the emotional trap he himself built around his heart.
The Case of the Overprotective Ass is set at the end of the Second World War; less than 40 years divide the two novellas but the men in them are completely different. Gone is the idea of heroic knights at war, gone is the uncertainty about each other feelings, what remains is the forbidden relationship between two men.
Alistair and Toby are two heartthrob of the UK movie industry of the ’50. Like many closet cases of the time, while they love each other and are in an exclusive relationship since years, to the public opinion they are best friends and contendants to the heart of fellow actress Fiona.
The intake of this story is light and mostly funny; Alistair and Toby are also surer of each other feelings and as such, they display their affection with more freedom than Nicholas and Paul.
I really am not able to say what is the more romantic between the two novellas, as I said they are very different; maybe the first one has a little more bittersweet aftertaste, while instead Alistair and Toby’s story is sparkling, a good parallelism is dark red wine against champagne… you can appreciate both, but not compare them.
Amazon: Home Fires Burning
Amazon Kindle: Home Fires Burning
Paperback: 198 pages
Publisher: Cheyenne Publishing (September 1, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott