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The dazzling new novel from the bestselling author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.

September 1919:20 year-old Tristan Sadler takes a train from London to Norwich to deliver some letters to Marian Bancroft. Tristan fought alongside Marian’s brother Will during the Great War but in 1917, Will laid down his guns on the battlefield, declared himself a conscientious objector and was shot as a traitor, an act which has brought shame and dishonour on the Bancroft family.

But the letters are not the real reason for Tristan’s visit. He holds a secret deep in his soul. One that he is desperate to unburden himself of to Marian, if he can only find the courage.

As they stroll through the streets of a city still coming to terms with the end of the war, he recalls his friendship with Will, from the training ground at Aldershot to the trenches of Northern France, and speaks of how the intensity of their friendship brought him from brief moments of happiness and self-discovery to long periods of despair and pain.

The Absolutist is a novel that examines the events of the Great War from the perspective of two young privates, both struggling with the complexity of their emotions and the confusion of their friendship.


Extraordinary...The narrative is by turns surprising and tragic in equal measure while its troubling conclusion will stay with readers long after they've closed the book.

Carlo Gebler

Powerful, poignant and beautifully written. This will become a classic war novel.

The Bookseller

Compulsive, stylish and gripping

Reader's Digest

A wonderful, sad, tender book.

Colm Toibin

John Boyne brings a completely fresh eye to the most important stories. He guides us through the realm of history and makes the journey substantial, poignant and real. He is one of the great craftsmen in contemporary literature.

Colum McCann

A superb evocation of the Great War and its very human effects.

Choice Magazine

A fiercely interrogative novel that asks not just what it means to be a man but also what it means to be a human being in the extreme circumstances of war.

Irish Times

Boyne's fluid writing and strong characterisation brings the story to life and delivers a strong, unexpected emotional punch at the end.

Edinburgh Evening News

There is an old-fashioned feeling to this readable and well-written novel.

The Independent

Boyne's twinning of the subjects of homosexuality and conscientious objection is inspired


Boyne skillfully draws a thread through from sexual to moral to social shame ... he tells a good story.

Irish Independent

A really enjoyable, if rather sad, read, full of historical and human interest.

Irish Sunday Independent

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    June 1, 2012

    Black Swan

    432 pages

    RRP $27.99

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
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    • Whitcoulls
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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    June 1, 2011

    Transworld Digital

    432 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ