Alexander Maclean, the product of a colonial and South African childhood set in an era long before the liberalising of South African society after 1994, experiences his own bisexuality as a terrible defect of character; a grave moral failing; and his struggles to come to terms with it assume an epic proportion.
Alexander fights to hold fast to his Christian faith and to overcome his growing alcoholic addiction, for as he enters his thirties he seeks escape through increasingly savage drinking. But he also manages to retain an almost childlike innocence, despite a life that is at times thoroughly debauched and degraded. As he strives to outdistance what he views as a flaw in his nature too awful to endure, Alexander travels back and forth to Britain and across sub-Saharan Africa, the Mediterranean and the Far East.
This is at times a harrowing story, but in the lyrical descriptive passages of landscapes and physical locations, we grasp something of Alexander’s love of life, and we find that although his long struggle has caused him lasting injuries, Alexander attains the peace he has sought so long, and the final years of his life in Scotland’s West Highlands are happy ones.