Toby Harnden

Gay Man’s Lot

Mr Clive and Mr Page


Serpent's Tail 207pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

If life as a homosexual was half as depressing as Neil Bartlett’s second novel makes it sound, the term ‘gay’ must be a wholly ironic label. Cruelty, loneliness, persecution and suicide, it seems, are the gay man’s lot.

A series of historical documents – a man’s fond note to his grandson written in 1886, an extract from the diary of a 1920s socialite, a description of a Mayfair house that has been demolished – provides the novel’s framework. In between, Bartlett uses Mr Page (we never find out his first name), a long-serving assistant at Selfridges department store, to tell the strange tale of his brief acquaintance and long obsession with the man he calls Mr Clive.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter