Blasts from the Past: Christodora by Tim Murphy (2016)

Cover imageThis 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?

4 thoughts on “Blasts from the Past: Christodora by Tim Murphy (2016)”

  1. What a great idea for a blog post! I love re-reads, primarily because I find it interesting to see how my reaction to a particular book over the years has or has not changed. Sometimes I wonder how I missed a work’s sterling qualities; sometimes, alas, I wonder “just WHAT was I thinking” when I loved that book!
    I enjoyed your review of Murphy’s Cristodora very much. In the U.S., I think the book actually received a good bit of favorable attention. I put it on my “maybe” list after reading a glowing review in the New York Times shortly after it was published. I must admit, however, that the novel never made it past the tentative stage! So many, many books and, well, you know the rest of it . . . .

    1. Thank you! I like to throw a little light on those titles that seem to miss out on attention or might have been forgotten. I thought this one would get more attention in U.S. It felt very much a New York book to me, part of its appealfor me!

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