Intricate and finely crafted ... There is always a narrative risk when recapitulating events in historical fiction — predetermination can deaden the pulse. Crewe, who earned his Ph.D. in 19th-century British history from the University of Cambridge, makes no such error. He attentively constructs rich, human motivations and contradictions for his fictionalized renderings of John and Henry ... Crewe uses the interior depth of John and Henry to build intrigue, creating provocative developments even without the use of overtly dramatic plot points ... The New Life brims with intelligence and insight, impressed with all the texture (and fog) of fin de siècle London. Crewe’s prose is stylish and precise, reminiscent of Alan Hollinghurst’s. The novel falters only in its later chapters, when John begins a self-destructive streak that is too flatly written to be believable. Otherwise, the writing is exquisite ... For all its historical fixtures, the novel is energized by timeless questions.
Lyrical, piercing ... Lends a contemporary urgency to an exploration of same-sex intimacy and social opprobrium ... Crewe...knows this milieu like the back of his hand, conjuring it in all its immediacy and richness ... His characters shine ... A tension kindles between his precise, graceful sentences and his graphic scenes of sex, capricious as the music of an Aeolian harp ... A fine-cut gem, its sentences buffed to a gleam, but with troubling implications for our own reactionary era ... Crewe keeps one eye on the past and the other on the future; his book brims with élan and feeling, an ode to eros and a lost world, and a warning about the dangers ahead.
Nothing less than remarkable ... What beautiful prose it is. Crewe’s writing is subtly intricate, gorgeous, though never precious or showy ... Stunning ... A beautiful, brave book that reminds us of the terrible human cost of bigotry; this is a novel against forgetting.