Bardsley, Josiah Ralph. “The Photographer’s Truth”, Bold Strokes Books, 2016.
Having It All
Ian Baines has it all. He is a hotshot software programmer in Silicon Valley with a beautiful wife and family; he lives a nice house in an upscale San Francisco neighborhood, and a past that he’s mostly managed to forget. But then his life takes an unexpected turn for him when he goes to Paris for a three-month work project and where he meets former fashion photographer Luca Sparks. Luca takes him on a journey through Paris nightlife and Ian discovers something about himself when the two men begin to fall in love. Both men must fight their own demons as they emerge on new journeys of self-discovery— they must find ways to deal with both their feelings for each other and their pasts.
Ian narrates the story and so we read what he sees. He is well aware of his emotions and his fears. When he learns who he is, he is afraid and it takes him time to find self-acceptance. He finds it and embraces it but even then he is filled with fear. Luca was not expecting to find love and himself when he met Ian in a café. But that is what he found and it changed him and taught him a good deal about life.
We first meet Ian as a young college student who is just beginning to examine who looks at the world through questions. We then see him married with two teenage sons. It’s not until Ian is sent to Paris on a work assignment that so much changes for him and he begins to see the world differently that ever before. But what he sees now is overwhelming because of Luca and because he has to live two distinct lives.
Ian and Luca do not seem to have anything in common and neither man is what he seems to be. Ian is either ill at ease or not aware of his feelings with his feelings which creates a distance between him and the reader so it takes a while for what is obvious to the reader— however, we seem to know what he feels before he does. He is also filled with guilt about cheating on his wife.
As the relationship between the two men develops, we learn more about Ian and Luca and we see how they change as the romance between them evolves. When Ian meets Luca’s friends, (and from them hear about who Luca is) he realizes that what he and Luca share has changed Luca from a something of a secretive person relationship and he stops being with his friends as much as he had until then.
It is obvious that Ralph Josiah Bardsley knows a good deal about photography and he uses that in building the character of Luca. Luca views his world in various colors and tints and this helps him understand how Ian sees himself. Up until Luca, Ian’s life had been simply black and white. It is not always easy living truthfully when others are involved and we see that in terms of Ian’s wife and sons. We see the realism and the reality of the
human condition and that we do not have the power to control love and whom we share that love with. That, I am sure, is the very reason that I like Bardsley’s writing so much. He dares to say what we will say ourselves. At first, this is a bit uncomfortable but that passes. He provides us with a lot to think about so when you read this be prepared to have Luca and Ian on your mind for awhile. There is something a good deal deeper than the average gay romances that we usually get. Bardsley is a thinker and he makes us think. His dialogue engages us, his characters become part of us, his prose is beautiful and his plot has something important to say (Could there be any more to ask for?). It takes a while for the romance to build and that is not just for the characters to get to know each other but also for us to get to know the characters.