Rating: 5 stars
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Length: Novel

Stephen fancied himself in love…or perhaps it was the idea that Ant was a conquest—someone who held him at arm’s length when he had always been the “golden boy.”  With an actress for a mother and a distant father whom he suspected was a closeted homosexual, Stephen was able to drift through his life, never really having to take responsibility for himself or his actions. He was a careless, young, handsome boy who left a string of one-night stands in his wake until he crossed paths with the somewhat mysterious and aloof Ant.  And so began a full force infatuation that would morph itself into a deep abiding love that would cross continents and stand up to AIDS in its attempt to reunite with the one it loved.

Vanity Fierce by Graeme Aitken is a sweeping novel about a quirky young man who sets himself on a path of self-discovery.  Along the way, he begins to understand that in his desire to be self-serving and remain in control of his destiny he has failed to see the very man whom he is destined to love—and in fact, he realizes too late that it is he who must make drastic changes if he is ever to be happy, ever to be loved.

Ant and Stephen live in a walkup building complete with transsexual prostitutes, aging gay divas, and the oddest assortment of men and women ever collected in a novel.  They dance around one another, never fully realizing how much they mean to each other until late in the novel when a devastating secret is revealed and Stephen must chase Ant all the way to America in order to let him know that he is indeed in love with him—no matter the cost.

This was a sweeping novel that due to its scope alone made me breathless. Never have I come across secondary characters who drew me in –made me laugh, frustrated me, and, yes, made me cry.  The way Aitken pulled together bisecting story lines and lured his reader into the total sphere that was his main character’s life was amazing.  I lived and breathed along side Stephen—page after page, drawn inexorably into his life until I felt that I knew his friends as intimately as if they lived down the street.

There were places in this book where I laughed so hard tears poured from my eyes and then times where I sighed and shook my head at the frustratingly shallow way Stephen moved through one relationship after another.  This was an amazingly well planned out novel that gave us a window into the life of a young man who finally gave in and allowed himself to grow up—and, in doing so, finally started to live.

I highly recommend Vanity Fierce to you dear reader.  It is a story that draws you in and leaves you just a bit wiser by its end.