For a human decision, the desires of some young Cardinals to change the path of history, or maybe for the will of the Holy Spirit, a 49 years old american man, Brian, is elected Pope. Brian is a man with a strong will and with his own ideas: he is gay and has a 27 years old lasting relationship with William, another priest he met in seminary, who now follows him everywhere as his personal assistant. If you are expecting a naughty tale about sex between men in soutane, change your mind: for all what is regarding Brian and William's relationship, they are more like an old couple than two horny men in love. More, when Brian is elected Pope, William is both worried than scared, he doesn't feel right to continue having a sexual relationship when Brian represents the same structure that condemns both homosexuality than the lack of celibacy among priests. In a way, Brian is more coherent than William in saying that he doesn't see what is changed, if they were having sex before, why not now? But I liked Brian's attitude, it was a way to prove that he really believes in his role as a priest.
Brian and William are very different, but complete each other. Brian is more a leader, but he probably wouldn't have reached that position without William by his side. William makes Brian think, gives him the chance to ponder his choices. On the other side, William has not the strength to be a leader and probably not even the outside image. It's not that William is weak, it's more that he doesn't like to be on center stage. I really liked their relationship, it talked a lot of their past together, without need to speak the words aloud.
Brian, as Pope, is more a political chief than a man of the Church, but sadly that is the true. Vatican is a little state, but it has a lot of power in the matters regarding the free choices of people all around the world, and so the work of a Pope is more a political issue than that of a shepherd of God. Peter's Chair is a a lot of adventure / thriller novel and not so much romance, but it has its sweet moments, like the day to day romance between Brian and William, made of little habits honed by years of cohabitation (Brian is not a morning person, William is a bit on the stubborn side, and so on), and the naughty side of the sex relegated to more younger men, like Brian's personal bodyguards. But still, the sex is not really the main element of this book, and I think that is right like that.
It can be said that John Simpson has a deep knowledge of the recent political history and in particular all regarding the Church. It's also clear that he has is idea and he has no problem to expose them. And, little side note, it's also clear that he doesn't like so much Italians or Italy: some remarks by Brian on how he wants all American things around him, also the smallest things like a tv programs, made me wonder what we did to him ;-) Italians and Italy are not so bad after all, at least not all of us.
Amazon: Peter's Chair
Amazon Kindle: Peter's Chair
Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press; 2 edition (December 7, 2012)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott