A HOT LOVE AFFAIR WHICH STILL CHALLENGES THE AGES ...

Welcome to COOL GAY STUFF, a media sampler collated by the author of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ... an entertaining Roman-era romance & crime/mystery saluting the many varieties of. human affection, yesterday & today.

To open, historical novelist George Gardiner introduces his highly-praised, erotically-charged, 498-page Roman-era romance + crime-mystery titled "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA - A Forbidden History". Based on history's real-life romance between the eminent Roman emperor Hadrian Caesar and his much-admired beau Antinous of Bithynia - coupled with the dark mystery of Antinous's death at Egypt's River Nile - this novel has been awarded a top 5-Star rating by 60% of its Amazon buyers. (See links to Amazon below.)

This initial page displays snippets of many reader's praises, & offers instant Net-links for you to purchase a 500-page paperback, or downloaded low-cost Kindle ebook, from Amazon USA. (The paperback is not available in street stores.)

Then this daily-updated COOL GAY STUFF site follows with GLBTQ news headlines & links, plus key reviews, new movie trailers, & promo literature for gay-themed (or simply gay-appeal) media. This site contains no overt NSFW materials or blatant porn. So, welcome everyone, wherever you are!!


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STAR TREK BEYOND .. the latest trailer

For science-fiction fans (& fond admirers of lead actor Chris Pine), here's the very latest Star Trek trailer to enthuse you.

In "Beyond," the space battleship Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

Director: Justin Lin. Cast: Chris Pine, Idris Elba, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Anton Yelchin and Karl Urban. Global release in July.



DISCOVER ONE OF HISTORY'S MOST-CELEBRATED REAL LIFE ANCIENT-WORLD EROTIC ROMANCES ...


ONE OF THE EARLIEST RECORDED SAME-SEX ROMANCES OF HISTORY : Hadrian Caesar and his very-fit paramour Antinous of Bithynia amid the Roman Empire (circa 125-130CE) two centuries prior to Rome adopting Christian beliefs.

The two-lined blue URL here is an invitation from your host, author George Gardiner, to explore his 498-page romance/crime/historical erotica/m-m romance "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History" at Amazon USA.

Alternatively, a click on the actual book cover-pics (below) will also deliver you to Amazon (USA) to explore purchase details via its Amazon Online link :-


HADRIAN & ANTINOUS - recorded history's first 'out' lovers ...

HADRIAN & ANTINOUS - recorded history's first 'out' lovers ...
... back & front cover of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA. .. CLICK ON THE PICS for direct link to its Amazon USA page to check reviews, prices, & purchase of a paperback or instant Kindle ebook download.

OPINIONS OF "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" - brief excerpts from 21 USA & UK Amazon reviews ...



"Nobody will ever know what, exactly, happened to Antinoos. But this is IMHO the best yet story about what might have been. ...."
David Woodworth (USA) at Amazon's USA sales site

"Five stars ... This is a good & fast read."
Fr Mike Mangoian (USA) at Amazon USA

"Five Stars ... I loved this book ... If you like mysteries, try this book. ... Lots of fun ... "
Eric Sootin, Asheville, NC (USA) at Amazon USA

"Five Stars ... Excellent ... couldn't put the book down ... one of the most enjoyable novels I've ever read ..."
Lloyd F Adams (USA), at Amazon USA

"Five Stars ... The best book I've read on Hadrian and Antinous."
JANE (Canada), at Amazon USA

"...I recommend it to any historical fiction fan, especially any fan of the redoubtable Mary Renault. ..."
J.R. Tomlin, author of historical fiction, at :- http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/

"Five stars ... a tour de force ..."
Elisa Rolle, Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer, USA & UK, & at : http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/1092070.html

" ... an absorbing new book ... compelling writing ... action sequences that are brilliantly staged & paced ... on a higher plane than mere homoerotic titillation ... courageous & convincing ..."
Reader Down Under (Australia), at Amazon USA

"... extensively researched picture of life in the Roman Empire ... a mix of mystery, comedy, gay & straight romance - is an entertaining read ..."
Laura Staley, Historical Novels Review, USA, at :-
http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-hadrian-enigma-a-forbidden-history/

"... an age-old love story with a twist ... an unexpected delight ... his storyline hooked me immediately ..."
Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson of READER VIEWS, Austin TX, USA
http://www.readerviews.com/ReviewGardinerTheHadrianEnigma.html

"... You will feel engaged and challenged ..."
Nan Hawthorne, author Beloved Pilgrim, at Amazon USA

"... extremely readable ... it's a page turner ... Gardiner has written an interesting & gripping story ..."
Kim at http://www.desicritics.org/ India

"... Five Stars ... a compelling crime mystery ... a hard book to put down ..."
Terence Charters, Hobart, Australia, at Amazon USA

"... An adventure through Hadrian's world. The story is easy to read and full of the homoeroticism that we love about this era. ..."
P. Novotny, London, at Amazon UK

"... a definitive Five Star read for me ..."
Aleksandr Voinov, UK, reviewer at Speak Its Name
http://speakitsname.com/2010/04/22/review-the-hadrian-enigma-by-george-gardiner/

"Five Stars ... A masterful recreation of Ancient Rome ... the historical details are a delight ... characters are outlined in a vivid way which is like meeting old friends ... "
Ernest Gill, Hamburg, at Amazon USA & UK

"Five Stars ... as a reimagining of the Hadrian-Antinous relationship in the context of the age it is fascinating."
Muriel Perkins, Texas, at Amazon USA

" ... this is a novel about the nature of love ... but this is far from just being a gay romance. ..." Kit Moss, historical author, at :- http://kitmossreviews.blogspot.com.au/2013/02/the-hadrian-enigma-forbidden-history-by.html

"A truly exceptional book on 'What Greek Love" is all about ..."
John R. Shelton at Amazon USA

"Five Stars. I so enjoyed this book. Highly recommend it ... "
Stephen Forte, Birmingham, Alabama at Amazon USA


NOTE: ***Amazon USA's book or ebook purchase site with its 21 reader's reviews (twelve awarding Five Stars for excellence!) can be read in full by clicking on :- http://www.amazon.com/Hadrian-Enigma-Forbidden-History/product-reviews/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1



SYNOPSIS :

LUST, LOVE, INTRIGUE, & MURDEROUS REVENGE: challenging suspense fiction suggested by real events in history's most unusual true love story ...

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History
A novel
(C) George Gardiner
ISBN13: 978-0-9807469-1-4 (at Amazon USA, UK, Europe, Australia etc) in 498-page paperback or Kindle ebook.
Also iBookstore, iPad, Nook & ePub ebook formats available via online sources. (Not available in street stores.)

The scene: ancient Rome, 130 years after Christ yet two centuries prior to Christianity being legal. Caesar Hadrian is the popular ruler of a vast pagan empire at the height of its power & wealth.

Hadrian, one of Rome's "five good emperors" searches for & eventually locates the love of his life .. Antinous, an elite Greek athlete, huntsman, & cavalry cadet. They become 'companions' under the ancient Greco-Roman mentoring tradition of an erastes (mentor) & his eromenos (student).

During an imperial pleasure tour of Egypt Antinous is discovered dead in the River Nile. Hadrian is distraught. Is the death a drunken prank gone wrong, suicide, murder, or something far more sinister? Hadrian assigns historian playboy Suetonius Tranquillus to investigate.

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA is the outlawed record of Caesar's investigation into one of history's most suspicious fatalities. It reveals more than Hadrian may want to know, or wants others to know. Set in a society increasingly reflecting facets of our own times, it portrays an era of torrid relationships, raging ambition, wealth inequalities, & uninhibited morals within a severely macho culture of honor, shame, pride & prejudice.

BUY ONLINE ONLY (not in street stores). CLICK NOW ON A LINK BELOW to select or compare your preferred purchase & delivery options ...

For an Amazon-USA or overseas paperback :
www.amazon.com/HADRIAN-ENIGMA-Forbidden-History/dp/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269738721&sr=1-1

for Amazon's Kindle ebook or Kindle-For-PC's download :
http://www.amazon.com/HADRIAN-ENIGMA-Forbidden-History-ebook/dp/B003LSSEQA/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=A24IB90LPZJ0BS&s=books&qid=1273695704&sr=1-2

[If you buy a new print edition of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA, or have purchased one in the past, you can buy a Kindle ebook edition for only $1.99 - saving 80%. Print edition must have been sold by Amazon.]

for Amazon UK :
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hadrian-Enigma-Forbidden-History/dp/0980746906/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271810088&sr=1-1

COOL GAY STUFF offers selective mixed-miscellany in both columns ...


... this column offers current LGBTQ-news & trailers of recent gay-interest movies likely to be available as dvd's etc, plus full independent reviews of THE HADRIAN ENIGMA ...

... later, after this site's copyright policy statement, follows a bibliography of the academic literature consulted as research when writing THE HADRIAN ENIGMA.

In parallel, the right side column offers miscellaneous gay-interest items or m/m related book promos + links or sources. Enjoy!! - G.G.


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WOODY ALLEN SALUTES 'CAFE SOCIETY', Hollywood-style...

'CAFE SOCIETY' - Woody Allen's salute to Hollywood. (You can tell it has class because this International Trailer has French-language subtitles for its English dialogue.)

'A young man arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry. There, he falls in love, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant café society that defined the spirit of the age.'

CAFE SOCIETY Official Trailer #1 (2016) - with Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart ... Director: Woody Allen

Friday, May 27, 2016

GAY LIFE / Being single ...

It's OK To Be A Single Gay Man
----  an enticing par from a provocative opinion-piece by Max DuBowy at HuffPost Queer Voices (USA), 26 May 2016 :-

      '.... Single life allows you to make decisions on your own terms. You don’t need to comply with another person’s wants and desires because you get to call the shots. Want to go to sleep early without feeling guilty? No problem, go take a snooze. Crave to jump on Scruff for a random, no-strings-attached hookup? Be my guest (just wear protection please). .... '
----  see Max DuBowy's entire challenging post about this controversial preference at www.huffingtonpost.com at :-
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/max-dubowy/its-ok-to-be-a-single-gay_b_10137970.html 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

TODAY IN GAY HISTORY: Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) ...

TODAY IN GAY HISTORY: Oscar Wilde was convicted of gross indecency
----  the opening par of a memorial to a proud 19th Century Irish/British gay activist, writer & playwright Oscar Wilde, commemorated by Les Fabian Braithwaite, author, at OUT Magazine (UK/USA), 25 May 2016 :-

      'What is "the love that dare not speak its name"?
      After unsuccessfully suing the Marquess of Queensberry for putting him on blast as a homosexual, Oscar Wilde was arrested for sodomy and gross indecency in 1895. The trial against Queensberry, who was the father of Wilde's lover Lord Alfred Douglas, aired Wilde's dirty laundry, which included his penchant for rough trade.
      In the trial following his arrest, Wilde was asked by prosecutor Charles Gill about "the love that dare not speak its name," a phrase in the poem "Two Loves" by Douglas .... '
---- see more of Braithwaite's trubute to Wilde at www.out.com at :-
http://www.out.com/today-gay-history/2016/5/25/today-gay-history-oscar-wilde-was-convicted-gross-indecency 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

GANDALF'S McKELLAN / India should grow up about gays ...

UK Actor Ian McKellen: "India Needs to Grow Up" About Gays
----  brief excerpts from a news report ABC News (via Associated Press), 24 May 2016 :-

      'British actor Ian McKellen has criticized India's use of a British colonial law to crack down on homosexuals, saying in an interview with a Mumbai newspaper published Tuesday that "India needs to grow up."
      The 76-year-old actor was in the west coast Indian city this week to promote the British Film Industry's "Shakespeare on Film" series coinciding with the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death. ....
....  He took issue with a colonial-era law — Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code [a residue of the 1861 British Law] — that makes sex between people of the same gender punishable by up to 10 years in prison. While actual criminal prosecutions are rare, the law is frequently used to harass people. .... '
----  see more about McKellan's India comments at http://abcnews.go.com at :- 
http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/uk-actor-ian-mckellen-india-grow-gays-39327850 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Do you want a MARVELous body? ....

"BIGOREXIA": How the Pressure to Look Like Thor & Captain America Is Hurting Men
----  the opening pars from a timely, querulous essay by Nico Lang (Salon) published at ALTERNET (USA), May 2016 :-

      'Male body standards have changed drastically since superheroes looked like George Reeves, but at what cost?  ....
....  Do you want a body like a Marvel superhero? Be prepared to eat—a lot.
      In a recent interview with BuzzFeed, Chris Hemsworth’s stunt double, Bobby Holland Hanton, told the outlet that he has to eat 35 times a day to get “anywhere near [Hemsworth’s] size.”
      Henton, who claims that he also worked out twice a day to stay in superhero shape, previously told Muscle and Fitness that his high-protein diet (which consisted of turkey, chicken, nuts, eggs and spinach) was a massive impediment to having a healthy social life: “It made me kind of unsociable in a way because you can’t go out with friends or family because you’re picking what you can and can’t [eat] in the menu. …'
----  see more of Nico Lang's view of the current body-building fashion at www.alternet.org at :- 
http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/marvel-body-bigorexia-how-pressure-look-thor-and-captain-america-hurting-men 

Monday, May 23, 2016

ITALY'S GAY UNIONS / A US Catholic perspective ...

For the First Time in History, Gay Unions Legal in Italy
----  the opening par to a news report by the [Catholic Church-oriented] Church Militant (USA), 23 May 2016 :-

      'ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - On Friday, Sergio Matarella, president of the Italian Republic, signed the gay civil unions bill, giving legal recognition to same-sex couples for the first time in Italy's history. The Cirinnà bill, named after it sponsor Sen. Monica Cirinnà, grants gay couples certain rights similar to married couples, short of allowing them to adopt children. .... '
----  see more of this Catholic-faith oriented site's report & views at www.churchmilitant at :-
http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/italian-president-signs-gay-unions-bill-into-law 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Just How Many LGBT Americans Are There? ...

How Many Americans Are Gay?
----  brief pars from an extended essay by Katy Steinmetz at TIME.com (USA), May 2016 :-

      'For centuries, being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in America meant hiding at least part of who you were. The stigma traces as far back as the colonial era, when sodomy was a capital crime, women were arrested for having same-sex relations and men were jailed for wearing women’s clothes.   ....
....  As the LGBT population moves into its full and equal place in public life, many people are asking an old question with new urgency: just how many LGBT Americans are there?  ....
----  see more of this extensive essay at http://time.com/lgbt at :-
http://time.com/lgbt-stats/ 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

GAY RIGHTS GROW UP ...

How Gay Rights Became Business's Big Social Issue
----  a substantial article by Scott Olster at Fortune.com magazine  (USA), 20 May 2016 :-

      'Welcome to the age of CEO activism. Gone are the days when executives would shy away from sharing their views on matters that had little to do with their company’s day-to-day activities. But some stances are safer bets than others.  ....'
--- see the entire article at http://fortune.com at :- 
http://fortune.com/2016/05/20/gay-rights-businesss-social-issue/ 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation ... a book review

'STAND BY ME: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation' by Jim Downs
----  a brief excerpt from a review by Angela Wilson of a new book at THE (The Times Higher Education online site), (UK), 19 May 2016 :-

      '....  With his newly minted history PhD, Jim Downs attended the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival premiere of the documentary Gay Sex in the 70s, whose director Joseph Lovett was disappointed that twenty-somethings were unaware of the era’s unrestrained sex. Having watched it, Downs was similarly disappointed that Lovett’s post-HIV portrayal turned the 1970s into a “morality play”. Stand by Me, his corrective to Lovett’s thesis, presents an alternative picture of 1970s gay culture as “largely forgotten” ....'
---- see more of Angela Wilson's review of Jim Downs' book at :-
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/books/review-stand-by-me-the-forgotten-history-of-gay-liberation-jim-downs-basic-books 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

US ARMY CONFIRMS FANNING AS SECRETARY ...

The First Openly Gay Army Secretary in U.S. History
----  a politics report by Marina Koren at The Atlantic (USA), May 2016 :-

      'The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Eric Fanning to the top job. In January of this year, Eric Fanning testified before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to be the next secretary of the Army.  .... '
----  see Marina Koren' s article at www.theatlantic.com at :- 
http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/eric-fanning-army-secretary/483291/ 

"CAROL" / The origins of this lesbian romance ...

Patricia Highsmith And "THE PRICE OF SALT"
----  an historical review of the source book for CAROL by Lyndsey D'Arcangelo at CURVE Magazine (USA) , 16 May 2016 :-

      'Without Highsmith’s 'The Price of Salt' there would be no 'Carol.' — a 1952 lesbian romance novel written by Patricia Highsmith on which the movie is based. Highsmith was originally known for writing psychological thrillers. She wrote over 22 novels and numerous short stories throughout her career .... '
---- see Lyndsey D'Arcangelo's 2-page essay at the CURVE site at :- 
http://www.curvemag.com/Culture/Patricia-Highsmith-And-The-Price-Of-Salt-1121/ 

SELECTED TRAILERS OF RECENT GAY-THEMED OR GAY-INTEREST MOVIES ....



.... here are a dozen movie trailers from recent international sources (below), updated regularly ... with thanks to
YouTube & their many international distributors ...


"LILTING' - British actor Ben Wishaw tests his range again ...

LILTING ...

"What is like to live in a world where you have no grasp of its language, and your only lifeline to that is lost."

In "LILTING" Ben Wishaw, wide ranging UK character actor from Shakespeare to James Bond movies, tests his range even further.

"Best gay-themed movie ever!" ... ?

STONEWALL | The birth of a Movement ...

FREEHELD - A subtle gay rights challenge ...

VENICE FESTIVAL ENTRY: "From Afar" (Venezuela 2015)

Peter Greenaway's EISENSTEIN, Stalin's eccentric filmmaker ...

FRENCH MOVIE ABOUT FRENCH FASHION ICON ...

BISEXUAL WOMEN | How to be oneself? ...

CONTROVERSIAL FRENCH MOVIE ...

ONE OF THE TOP TEN FOR 2014 ...

GAY LIFE in Switzerland in the '50's ...

COOL GAY MOVIE | "CONCUSSION" (USA 2013)

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is recalled ...

BURNING BLUE is a romantic drama which tells the story of two Navy fighter pilots who fall in love while living under the US Military Services' former "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" policy.

GAY MOVIE about high school love ...

CANNES 2013 AWARD WINNER ...

HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY review of "THE HADRIAN ENIGMA" ...

A fair-haired young man, dressed in rich ceremonial armor, is found dead in the Nile River. When he is identified, everyone realizes the dangerous political implications of this death, because Antinous was the eromenos—the lover and protégé—of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.

A grief-stricken Hadrian appoints two members of the court, Suetonius and his patron Clarus, to find out how and why Antinous died. They have two days to find the answer, permission to interrogate anyone except the Emperor and Empress, and the promise that they may forfeit their lives if they fail to satisfy Hadrian.

Failure is a distinct possibility. While Antinous was well-liked and respected, the circle of suspects is wide, as it often will be when the victim is the confidant of an absolute ruler. The two sleuths quickly draft unlikely but able assistants to help them, including a scribe and an observant, multilingual prostitute.

The book offers an extensively researched picture of life in the Roman Empire of 130 AD. Gardiner is equally convincing when writing about imperial politics and succession laws, marriage and sexual customs, philosophy and the theater.

But The Hadrian Enigma—a mix of mystery, comedy, gay and straight romance—is an entertaining read.

(See more at :-http://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/the-hadrian-enigma-a-forbidden-history/

THE HADRIAN ENIGMA - an unedited review by historical novelist NAN HAWTHORNE ...


Gaius Suetonius, a bit of a muckraking biographer, tells this story about an investigation into the sudden and unexplainable death of the youth, Antinous, by apparent drowning in the Nile during an annual festival of the death and resurrection of the god Osiris. The small group of investigators commissioned by Caesar Hadrian has two days to learn how he came to be found in the river dead. The path to this knowledge is difficult, involved, often contradictory and definitely dangerous as the investigators follow leads full of red herrings and mislaid people and things. At the heart of what they learn is how the boy came to be the eromenus to Hadrian’s erastes, a relationship between a mature man and a young one entering his career that was at least mentor-mentee and likely erotic. It seems that Hadrian was looking for such a companion and found it in Antinous, but from there the enigma stretches. A Roman man was not supposed to engage in an equal love relationship but only dominate the eromenus, but from the start the two men’s relationship was much more, and this fact if revealed could damage the Empire.

If you are expecting a nice neat Hercule Poirot detective story, let that go. This murder investigation, if that is the crime that took place, is far more challenging for both the investigators and the book’s readers. The solution does not even come to light until almost too late, during the investigation report. Rather than being a spoiler, I offer you the foreknowledge of a much more skillful mental workout. Perhaps the greater mystery is why the emperor asked Suetonius to lead the inquiries, as the latter is known for leaving no salacious stone unturned in his research and writing. Does Hadrian really want to know what happened to his lover? Does he really want everyone to see the seamy side of his court?

The structure of the novel is a series of interviews with witnesses and suspects about the days before and immediately after the young man’s death. In seeking background about Antinous, Suetonius and his fellows explore his life and relationships before becoming Hadrian’s companion. The individuals who supply this intelligence come at it from a number of quite different perspectives, with enough gaps between them to offer ambiguity. You will find yourself guessing “whodunit” and changing your mind several times as you follow the investigation and meet other players in the story.

I found that starting at the point of the lovers’ first night together I began to feel a sense of the tragic nature of their erastes-eromenus compact. It is understood that it cannot last more than a few years, but since in this case love enters the equation, the tragic nature of Antinous’s life starts to permeate all succeeding events. I found this quite moving and that it added a layer of anxiety as I read. As mentioned above, this is a novel about the nature of love. One aspect of gay male romance is constant threat to happiness and fulfillment, but this is far from just being a gay romance. The central characters are both men, but loves of other kinds make their mark throughout. There is family, marital friendship and sexual love, and the tension comes when the masculinist nature of Roman culture interferes and invalidates it. The subtext, as the author told me, is the same as we face now, when romantic relationships are more broadly defined but still not part of the heart of our societies.

One aspect of this novel I found pleasing was the mix of archaic and modern terms. Readers sometimes balk at modern slang, but when the very essence of a novel is that everything in it is an implicit translation, it is absurd to say that there would not have been a slang counterpart in the ancient language. Further, Gardiner confines his slang to the appropriate witnesses, those who would have used slang. That the words eromenus and boy-toy are in the same paragraph made perfect sense to me.
This novel will stick with readers for some time, its many subtle undertones drifting up and down in contemplation. It is also simply a good mystery novel. You will feel engaged and challenged and you will find you had encountered every little detail at some point in the book. No surprises, that is, if you were paying attention.

---- see more of Nan Hawthorne's work at her blog at :-

Nan Hawthorne, Historical Novelist


THE HADRIAN ENIGMA | A review by historical fiction author J.R. Tomlin ...

An excerpt from a review of August 15, 2011

" .... In 130 AD, while accompanying the Emperor Hadrian on a tour up the Nile, the beautiful youth Antinous plunges into the Nile and drowns. Hadrian, near maddened with grief, declares Antinous a god. However, Suetonius just happens to be along on this imperial tour. Already the author of juicy books on contemporary Roman life, he is perfectly placed to investigate this mysterious death, so Emperor Hadrian commands him to investigate and find the murderer within 48 hours or suffer the consequences.

In the imperial compound on the Nile, Suetonius searches for clues. Here, semi-isolated, the bubbling cauldron of the Roman court has been transplanted to a fabulous tent city. Yet, the mystery of Egypt is an ever present backdrop to this baffling death. .... Why was Antinous clad in heavy ceremonial parade armor and weapons when he died? How did he come by a slit on his left wrist and strange marks on his throat? And how can Suetonius unravel all this when the Emperor refuses to let Suetonius even touch the body to examine it? The characterization is vivid and the historicity meticulous in this novel. I enjoyed savoring the characters and setting as Suetonius unraveled the imperial goings on. .... "

See more of J.R. Tomlin's review at her author's blogsite "Writing & More" at : http://jeannetomlin.blogspot.com/


AN UNEDITED REVIEW OF 'THE HADRIAN ENIGMA"....

Hooray for Hadrian (and for George Gardiner) !, August 31, 2010

By a reader down under (New South Wales, Australia) - See all my reviews

This review is for: THE HADRIAN ENIGMA: A Forbidden History (Paperback)

George Gardiner's absorbing new book, which focuses on the relationship between the Roman emperor Hadrian and his young paramour, Antinous of Bithynia, quite possibly heralds the thrilling emergence of a new Mary Renault. (As uneven as it is in some places, to my mind it is a big improvement on Margeurite Yourcenar's book on Hadrian from the 1950s).

Gardiner begins his narrative with the discovery of the dead body of the beautiful youth, who has apparently drowned in the Nile. He coopts as his central figure cum narrator the actual historical figure of Suetonius Tranquillus, who is charged by the supreme colonial ruler Hadrian Caesar with the urgent responsibility of uncovering the reasons for, as well as the manner of, the death. Suetonius works night and day as a kind of investigator/ prosecutor and his dogged inquiry drives the plot. The narrative unfolds as a kind of antique murder mystery, then, and one of the book's great strengths is in the well-paced twists and turns of the plot, throwing up a number of suspects and scenarios along the way that keep the reader intrigued until the very end. Gardiner's humour shines through this character, who is forced to carry out his investigation under the double pressure of a pressing deadline (why is Hadrian so intent of winding it all up in such a short time, we wonder) and the threat of execution if he doesn't come up with the answers.

This is compelling writing. Suetonius is a good choice, as he is known for his history of a dozen Caesars, and the author brings him vividly and humorously to life. Indeed, Gardiner skilfully and imaginitively re-works established historical figures and creates a cast of composite characters where necessary to serve his narrative ends. The fact that he can do this convincingly, with such an extraordinary mixture of ethnicities and beliefs, is writing of a high order. The mastery of research is remarkable, not only for Gardiner's command of the details of ethnic artefacts, weaponry, costume, architecture and so on, but also for the complex politics of Roman colonial expansionism in its abrasive encounter with other cultures. The era was marked by a complex intermingling of belief systems, and Gardiner's fictional world is woven from a rich and amazingly detailed fabric. Very occasionally the research seems almost oversupplied but for the most part it serves to underpin his imaginative reconstructions with persuasive authenticity.

Also among the book's strengths are the finely imagined conversations between characters, both historical and concocted, that move the investigation so beautifully along. There are certain set action sequences pieces, too, that are brilliantly staged and paced--the boar hunt, for example, when Hadrian rescues Antinous, and the marvellous climactic scene where Suetonius brings his prosecutorial charges home (albeit uncertainly, with some lines of inquiry that don't pan out).

The only thing that broke the spell for me was Gardiner's occasional jarring choices in language idioms. There's no doubt that the language(s) of the time and place would have been salted with colourful vulgarities, and the dialogue should reflect that, but some of the terms chosen have such strong contemporary associations for us, here at the beginning of the 21st Century, that they they jar and jolt in the reading. `Toyboy' is one example, `getting your rocks off,' `muscular stud' and `gaga' are others that don't ring well to my ear. It's a pity, because sometimes they drop the reader right out of the spell he weaves so skilfully, otherwise.

In contrast, many of the scenes and dialogue move with stately Latinate constructions within a convincing and well-sustained narrative voice. Gardiner has set himself the difficult task of creating a hybrid language that can include both convincing formal language, and everyday vulgarisms, that ring true within his own reconstruction, yet sound right to our contemporary hearing. It's a delicate juggling act and sometimes he drops his balls. (If he had perhaps reserved their use strictly in dialogue, say, to help with characterisation? Perhaps some of his choices might be better realised in a second edition.)

Another of the book's great strengths is hinted at by the book's sub-title. It's a `forbidden history' not simply because Hadrian issues an edict that only the official `party line' should be recorded (and by implication, Suetonius' project of recording events for us to read goes dangerously gainst the edict of his Emperor). It's forbidden history too because Gardiner has constructed a counter-narrative to the centuries of heavily judgemental readings of this iconic same-sex relationship. Positive affirmations of same-sex bonding were exiled in silence as soon as the early Christian commentators started to impose their dominant narratives over all acceptable behaviours and ideals.

In Yourcenar's 50s version, Antinous's moody adolescent pouting makes Hadrian looks like a bit of a fool for dallying with the youth, but Gardiner proposes a heroic reading here that highlights the finer elements of the erastes/eromenos partnering, which was not only tolerated but celebrated in ancient times. For me, this moves the book onto a higher plane than a mere homoerotic titillation and places the relationship where it belongs, in the heroic company of Patroclus/Achilles and the legendary band of Theban warrior-lovers.

Gardiner successfully and daringly recuperates the much-despised and consistently misrepresented ideal of man-to-man love, here based on respect, admiration and the inspiration of noble ideals, as much as the undeniable and enjoyable erotic attraction, which we see only fitful glimpses of among sporting figures and others today. During the continuing culture wars of our own times it's a relief to read this inspiring alternative with its healing potential as an affirmative voice emerging from the diminishing, culturally imposed silence.

In a strange way `The Hadrian Enigma' is reminiscent of E.M. Forster's gay-affirmative novel `Maurice', which Forster was unable to publish during his lifetime. Forster's wistful happy ending for a same sex coupling was unthinkable in the mid-twentieth Century, and even today, it's hard to read such partnering as anything other than morally sinful - such is our pervasive indoctrination by churchmen - or psychologically misdirected (`homosexuality' is still construed as a kind of `failed development' in conventional psychological readings). Certainly such a relationship will still be regarded as second best to the pressing imperative of reproduction. Gardiner has struck a blow with this courageous and convincing re-telling.

So, for me this is a 5 star book for the outstanding and detailed research and the creative work that underpins the imaginative reconstructions; at least 4 stars for its plotting, but only 3 stars for the strange inconsistencies in his prose style. This averages out to a solidly earned 4 stars.

I do hope Gardiner is deep at work on his next book of historical fiction. He certainly has all the skills required.

See this review in situ at Amazon at :-

http://www.amazon.com/HADRIAN-ENIGMA-Forbidden-History/product-reviews/0980746906/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2SKZXVJX6CTT7



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GEORGE