I read Baldwin’s first novel, Go Tell it on the Mountain, when I was too young to understand it. This novel is about an American – David – in Paris, who cannot reconcile his homosexual love for Giovanni with the expectations of convention and his lifestyle.

It is quite harrowing and intense but gripping and rather sad. The atmosphere of Paris is beautifully constructed and the feelings of the characters are convincingly portrayed. David’s fiancee, Hella, is a particularly vivid character, in contrast to those of Maugham (see below).

The book must have been pretty edgy for the 1950s. A very good read but serious and thoughtful.

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