My first novel by Damon Galgut and one which I had been keen to read for a while.
It is a fictional account of E M Forster's life, focussing specifically on the inspiration for his final novel A Passage To India and also his frustrations and often fruitless search for love and companionship.
It is clear that Damon Galgut carried out an immense amount of research for this novel. However, whilst I have given my review 4 stars for its sheer literary quality, I want to qualify that. There were some aspects of the telling of the story which I thought were a little in poor taste and which made me feel uncomfortable.
Had this been a purely invented character rather than one based upon E M Forster I wouldn't have had a problem. Accepted that Forster was homosexual. His close friendships with both Masood, his former pupil, and Mohammed whom he met whilst he was working in Egypt during the 1914-18 War presumably are as true to the telling as possible. I felt the portrayal of his search for love, and his timidity and fear of expressing his feelings for others was well done, written sensitively and sympathetically. One can only feel sorrow that his life was rather lacking in love and affection. But certain imagined events, which could not possibly have been known, inferred a loss of dignity upon someone who is unable to answer for himself. There must still be people alive who knew him and perhaps would feel some discomfort on his behalf. But maybe it's just me feeling embarrassed on his behalf.
Putting aside those few issues, this was as good a read as I had hoped for and will now encourage me to get on and read Forster's novels!