Baker, John Roman. “Nick’s House”, Wilkinson House, 2018.
The Third Nick and Greg Book
After we met Nick in the late 1950s when he was just young teen growing up and coming out in Brighton, England. A lot has changed since then but most important is that he has grown up and become independent in this, the third book of the Nick and Greg series. Nick is now a published poet and owns his own bookstore and is a respected member of society. It had not been easy for Nick go get to where is and two surprises await him. The first is the arrival of Bart and the second is the return of Greg to Brighton, the place where the two first began their closeness together. It does not take long before the old feelings of lust come back to Greg but Nick is not alone; he has bought Karel with him.
The three books taken together follow the lives of Nick and Greg, two best friends from when they met in 1957 through adolescence in the 60s and the beginning of adulthood in the 70s. Their history is the history of gay life in England but as seen through the lives of these two guys. From the time they were just fourteen years old and “illegal”, they were sexually free and searched for adventure. They were young set believed like Auntie Mame— that life is a banquet and every course must be tasted. As they do, they find new friends new relationships yet a very strong bond holds them together. A special bonus is a group of Nick’s poems at the end of the book and yes there is a sequel coming this summer. I have come to regard the guys as my friends as well and I feel wrapped up in their lives even though I am on the outside looking in. It takes a special writer to be able to make his characters so real that we feel we know them and John Roman Baker is that kind of writer. Hopefully Nick and Greg will get to be my age so I can really feel that I grew with them even though our lives are so different.
I believe that it is important to be reminded that things were not as they are for us now. While Brighton was the center of English gay life in the past, it was illegal and what occurred between gay men was in secret and discreet. This is how it was when we first meet Nick and Greg and it was during a time like this and afterwards that Nick wanted to know and experience more. Greg, on the other hand, was held back by his own self-denial, his relationship to his family and his self-destructive behavior that could cause tremendous psychological damage.
I love that author Baker makes reference to the cultural events of the time and the political and social changes so that we always know where we are historically.