April 6, 2016 by kitmoss
THE IMPETUOUS AFFLICTIONS OF JONATHAN WOLFE by Charlie Cochet
Paperback, 204 pages
Published November 8th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1627982973 (ISBN13: 9781627982979)
All the way through reading this charming novel I felt there was something familiar about it. It just hit me moments ago that it reminded me of Louisa may Alcott’s LITTLE MEN. Don’t let this statement put you off. I LOVE that book. Make it an M/M romance and I’m in literary heaven. In addition, it is much more than LITTLE MEN, though if you paid attention to that one, you realize there is a lot of grown-up storyline in Alcott’s book about Jo and the Professor setting up an orphanage for boys.
At the close of Cochet’s THE AUSPICIOUS TROUBLES OF CHANCE, our heroes set out for England to turn Jackie’s estate into a home for damaged boys. In this sequel one of the book’s characters, Jonathan Wolfe, is the central storyteller. He’s not a child, not one of the orphans per se, but he is one of the individuals who have just barely survived the cruelties of the world visited so much more savagely because they are, to use a modern term, gay. Jackie and Chance want to provide a safe house for its residents, but more than that a home, a hearth, a loving home where they can heal from the wrongs done to them by adults.
Jonathan, like the others, abused by people he should have been able to trust, suffers from feelings of worthlessness, mistrust of others, and being drawn to self-destruction. He is in love with the estate’s resident physician, Dr. Henry Young. The closer Henry gets to him the more his own trauma comes to the surface. He is angry, irritated and irritating, reckless, and even thinks about leaving the circle of his adopted family.
My favorite part of this novel is what made me think of Alcott’s novel, the caring for these children and each other you find in the adults at Hawthorne Manor. Cochet is a fine writer with a quirky style that is entertaining and warm. She sculpts each character’s personality vividly and consistently. You see enough of each one to develop a sort of bond, an investment in their individual stories. There is the entirely credible illness, loss, misery, but there is also kindness and breakthroughs. Not the least of these is Jonathan’s own troubles. He has to find a way to accept that he belongs in this remarkable family. The question is, what will it take?
It’s no secret I love Cochet’s writing. She is unique in her approach and her execution of ideas that can sometimes get stale in other writers’ hands. I told her I thought her writing was “jaunty”, which she liked, but I will tell you all now that with this novel she has grown further to add genuine insights into the jauntiness.