... stunning ... Roberts’s lachrymose gay novel is nine years overdue in becoming a sensation here ... It’s a story as old as time, but, to my mind, it’s never been told so effectively, principally because Roberts invests us emotionally in both sides of the tug-of-war ... Tom, the object of desire, remains a cipher throughout. But Marion and Patrick come alive in their respective sections, serving as complicated, convincing and, at times, justifiably petty protagonists. Roberts is terrific at sensory details ... The novel’s real achievement lies in how Roberts recodes the stereotypical desires of a straight, provincial woman and a fey, posh, gay man ... It’s not a happy story. It’s better than that, fraught and honest.
... dashing ... Roberts brings her 1950s setting to life with evident pleasure in period props, scents and colours ... While it is interesting to compare Marion's and Patrick's versions of events, and especially their different feelings for Tom, the juxtaposition is a formal oddity, with Patrick's diary entries floating free of the scenario – Marion frantically scribbling her manuscript in the bungalow and storing it in the kitchen drawer – that Roberts has so carefully contrived ... But she writes persuasively about both these characters, who find themselves in conflict not only with the rules governing sexual behaviour but with the desires signalled by their own bodies. Her novel is a humane and evocative portrait of a time when lives were destroyed by intolerance.
Roberts deploys her research carefully, honing a novel with a strong period feel and a sprightly structure ... I wasn't convinced by the melodrama of the conclusion but the novel does capture the enforced evasiveness practiced before the partial decriminalization of gay sex in 1967.