An engaging coming-of-age story written with subtle humour and great panache…
Bittersweet captures the era of the 1960s cultural revolution around the globe. America is at the brink of a revolution marked by drugs, sex, and rock ‘n roll, and France is the established cultural hub of the world. Restless and wary of a withering culture and government censorship of students’ bodies, Renny and Max, young students at Barkeley, leave for France to study at the University of Dijon. Fascinated and impassioned by an unprecedented and intoxicating freedom, the young men shed their earlier inhibitions and enter the phase of adulthood. Through Max’s carefree excursions and Renny’s attempts to partake, as the latter wanders wide eyed through a series of gatherings with his new and old friends, Free takes the reader on an unforgettable coming-of-age journey of the friends. Renny may be overly emotional and a bit lost, but he is an ardent believer—not only in literature but in love. He is earnest, compassionate, and sincere in ways that make it easy for the reader to root for him. After his long and exerting depressive spell, the suddenness of his emotional breakthrough on hearing the news of Anne-Marie’s presence in Paris engage the reader’s sympathy. When he gets over-involved with Anne-Marie in Paris and is unable to realise the truth, readers cannot help but feel pity for him. Undergirding several secondary storylines is Renny’s distraught memories of his mother’s continuous struggles with depression and Max’s nonchalance attitude toward his mother’s sordid affairs. Readers travel through rich settings (from San Francisco in America to Dijon, Cassis, and Paris in France) and come across richly embodied dramatic events–from audacious demonstrations of various student groups demanding profound changes in the system to the young men falling into rhapsodic love affairs involving passionate sex and romance. Free has a gift for writing, and his voice is rich; it justifies his protagonist as a lover of words, especially, poetry and a student of literature. Renny and Max are relatable as the main protagonists—the young men who are at a bit of lost point in their life, and Free takes the same time and care with his multiple other characters. Despite the fact that the heart of the book is Renny’s poignant love story, the book remains subtle in its sentimentality and impresses the reader with its reflective depth.
Bittersweet: A Coming of Age Historical Romance
By Lloyd Free
PUB DATE May 26, 2018
PRICE $14.95 (USD)