This is the latest in a series of occasional posts featuring books I read years ago about which I was wildly enthusiastic at the time, wanting to press a copy in as many hands as I could.
I don’t remember seeing much coverage of Christodora when it was published here in the UK. A shame. It’s accomplished enough to have reminded me a little of Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved which from me is high praise indeed.
Milly and Jared are both artists, comfortably off enough to pursue their work with little need for a reliable income. Milly is the daughter of Ava, a New York health official turned activist, disgusted at her department’s feeble efforts to stem the HIV virus and its deadly consequence. This is the ‘80s: drugs to combat HIV/AIDS are in their ineffective infancy. When Milly persuades Jared to adopt Mateo, she knows his mother died from AIDS but Mateo is virus-free. As Mateo grows up he comes to resent his adoptive parents as hungry for information about his birth mother as the four-year-old he was when Milly first met him.
Flitting backwards and forwards through four decades from the early ‘80s, Murphy traces the history of AIDS activism and its achievements through the involving story of these three, their friends and family. The result is a compelling, deeply moving novel and an optimistic one which reminds those of us who lived through the ‘80s just how far the fight against HIV/AIDS has come.
What about you, any blasts from the past you’d like to share?