Philippa Iliffe of The Book Guild Ltd very kindly sent out copies of The Long Dark Rainbow to reviewers. Author Michael Tappenden starts off with a synopsis.
Alexander James, now retired, pursued a successful career as an art historian, somewhat eccentric academic and if he is honest, unfulfilled artist.
He lives in a dowdy and chaotic flat, and is single. His choice. Alone that is, except for the world of art, which at times can replace the real one. He prefers to forget his past and its awful loss but on dark nights, it can return to haunt him.
He meets Samantha Reagan by chance at the charity shop where she volunteers. She is sophisticated, divorced and when she admits it – lonely. They had met briefly and memorably before, but even now, forty years on, there is definitely still a spark or two.
But do they really want another relationship, now that they are both in their early seventies, have their own hard-won independence and after all that life has already thrown at them? And of course there is also the spectre of sex; of Samantha’s imagined descent from flawless beauty to flawed older woman and for Alex, the issue of masculinity and performance. And, if they can overcome all of that, what do they do with the dark secrets still churning inside both of them and any shocks that might just be hiding around the next corner?
Michael says: This book certainly acknowledges the impact of one’s past, whether personally contrived or enforced upon you by an Establishment. It also celebrates the human ability to overcome darkness and despair and to recognise and seize the opportunity to reassess both the present and the future as you wish to see it. It also acknowledges that the most powerful sensual urges are not over but have simply taken another pathway.
This Book started of a bit slow at first, but I thought would I get into it.
It is about a man called Alexander James who is a retired art historian now in his 70's and wants to feel alive again.
Whilst out taking a bag full of things to donate to the Charity Shop, he meets Samantha Reagan by chance in the shop they had met briefly before 45 years ago.
Can that old spark reunite like it did once all those years ago? Can they enjoy a sex life now they are older and ignore the flaws of their past?
I don't want to give to much away as don't like spoilers. but after getting into this book I thoroughly enjoyed it .
Would give it 4 stars. Well done Michael!
Alexander James, an unmarried septuagenarian and retired Art teacher, feeling depressed visits his usual Charity Shop, where he recognises someone he used to know when a teenager. Samantha, also a septuagenarian is now a wealthy divorcee and volunteers part-time in the shop. She recognises Alex as someone she once had a fling with before she married someone else, and they rekindle their acquaintance.
The next few chapters are spent describing in detail their various sexual exploits.
For most of his life Alex has been carrying a heavy burden. During his wild college years, when drink and sex was in full supply, he fell madly in love with Rachel who gave birth prematurely to twins while he was away. Because they were not married Rachel was forced to give the babies up for adoption, and on Alex's return Rachel's friend Stephanie tells him that Rachel wants nothing more to do with him. Alex never forgave himself for the sad episode. But at the time he'd not been aware that Rachel and Stephanie were lesbians in love with each other.
Then Stephanie finds herself pregnant and Alex does not know whether her child is his after he'd hurriedly impregnated her after a drunken night out. Alex and Samantha have more graphically written sexual experiences.
After viewing Alex's art work, Samantha organises an art exhibition which is a great success. However, this brings Alex's name into the limelight with consequences, when a young girls knocks on the door and announces that she is Georgia, one of Alex's lost twins. But Samantha is suspicious. Nevertheless, Alex wants to believe it is true, and agrees to meet her and they arrange a further date - but she phones cancelling this arrangement.
Then Edmund, a 'gay' friend from Alex's past, comes into the picture. Although seriously ill, he informs Alex that Stephanie has died. Alex and Samantha go to Stephanie's funeral where they see Georgia and learn that she is Stephanie and Edmunds's child and not Rachel's child as she professes. The dying Edmund, hoping to make amends, tells Alex that he was not to be blamed for what happened.
Michael writes excellent prose, but his subject was not to my liking. Perhaps others will think differently.
When I read the blurb of this book, I must admit I was unsure that this was my sort of book; it really did not tempt me.
Once started, I was intrigued by the story and could not predict the ending at all, with the clever twists to the story alongside the main story.
The developing friendship between two people, Alex and Samantha (Sam), who become reacquainted later on in life, is a lovely setting to the story, and did feel that it would have been good enough without the details of their sexual adventures along the way. It was quite funny in places when their adventurous physical relationship did not go to plan. Maybe that's my wierd sense of humour? Reading about the older generation, is not usually covered or discussed in books that I have read before, so could be the reason that I found it strange.
The history behind both of the main characters was realistical, and the twist of long lost family members, is a believable experience to some people. The different generation of characters was fitting to how they would have behaved, especially around the gay scene from years past and how the stigma was so normal to them then, yet nowadays how much society has changed and acceptance to people's choices being a relief. It must have been so difficult a time to those who just wanted to be themselves.
Overall, I would not have chosen to read this book and not just because of it being classed as an erotic book, but mainly because reading about older people's sexual experiences is not the type of book that would draw me in. Most books are about an experience I have done or know of personally. I do not want to think about what may come about in the future as it could be quite off putting.