Reviews /

Gwen and Art Are Not In Love

Authored by Lee Croucher
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Gwen and Art Are Not In Love is a 21st Century Romcom set in Arthurian Britain.

Gwendoline and Gabriel are brother and sister, princess and prince. Their father is the King and years ago he betrothed Gwendoline to Arthur in return for the support of Arthur’s father. The problem is that Gwen and Arthur can’t stand the sight of each other. Gabriel, meanwhile, is weighed down by the prospect of becoming king after his father. He spends almost all his time studying in the library trying to lean from books how he might be a good king and follow in his father’s footsteps.

Slowly, it emerges that Gwendoline and Arthur are both gay. Arthur is seen kissing a servant boy and Gwen is obviously attracted to the only female knight present at the King’s tournament. They decide to pretend to like each other in order to hide this from the court. Then we discover that Gabriel is gay too! Will they ever be able to get out of the closet and able to love who they wish? We read about lots of clandestine romantic meetings while the political intrigues of the court swirl around the main characters. The novel is full of the kind of misunderstandings that get in the way of true love, but which, of course, are overcome leading to rapprochements of great intensity.

Did I enjoy reading this novel? The straight answer is no. My years of teenage angst were over many decades ago so I could not empathise with the main characters. The story is a 21st Century Romcom dressed up in Arthurian clothes, set in a Camelot about a hundred years after the time of the Knights of the Round table. The historical context did not convince me. For example, I am sure that in those days teenagers did not have ‘sleepovers’ and say, ‘Oh my God!’ a lot. (I did enjoy the climactic battle scenes, though, reminding me of events in Tolkien’s The Two Towers).

However, that is likely to be of little consequence to the intended audience of teenagers who enjoy reading romantic comedies. They will lap up this fast-paced narrative where (almost) everybody gets to live happily ever after.