The Book of Revelation by Rupert Thomson

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The Book Of Revelation


Five words from the blurb: man, dancer, abduction, strangers, disturbing

I hadn’t heard of Rupert Thomson until he was mentioned on twitter by author Will le Fleming. We were discussing how sad it was that more people hadn’t read books by Andrew Miller (I recommend starting with Ingenious Pain) when he mentioned Rupert Thomson as another author who deserves more recognition. Having read The Book of Revelation I can only agree. It is sad that authors this good manage to slip through the net.

The Book of Revelation is a fast paced, but thought provoking book about the perceived difference in sexual behaviour between the sexes. The central character is a dancer who is abducted by three strange women. They hold him prisoner and subject him to a number of different sexual acts. The book cleverly questions the difference between male and female rape and investigates the emotions of a man who is subjected to a series of sexual crimes, but torn between vaguely enjoying himself and wanting to be free.

There was a moment, too, when he felt the beginning of an erection, that gradual tightening at the base of his penis, that slow, almost luxurious rush of blood. It was as if his body was taking sides against him. Betraying him.

I have to admit that when I started reading this book I planned to avoid mentioning it on my blog. The first half was quite pornographic; not in a titillating, explicit way, but in the number and frequency of sexual acts mentioned. It was only when I read the second half of the book that I realised how clever it was. It made me realise that I do have a different attitude to male rape and my attitude needs to change.

If you have a very tolerant book group then I highly recommend selecting The Book of Revelation – there is a lot to discuss and it would be interesting to know what others thought of the specific scenarios mentioned.

I love authors who manage to question the behaviour of society in this way and so I look forward to trying many more Rupert Thomson books in the future.


Have you read anything written by Rupert Thomson?



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  1. This is a very pertinent and timely review because only yesterday I’ve read that the US was (finally) broadening its definition of rape to include male victims:

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I didn’t realise that. I don’t even know what the law is here in the UK. It isn’t a subject I’ve really come across before so I have a lot to think about now.

      1. Jackie says:

        I’ve just looked up the UK law and from my brief investigations it looks as though men can be victims of rape (since 2004) but women cannot be charged with committing rape. It is amazing to think that the women in this book would only be guilty of abduction/imprisoning him. (I think? – am not an expert!)

  2. I read one of his earlier 1990s novels (The five gates of hell) many years ago. Sadly I can’t remember anything about it, but I did keep the book which indicates I thought it worth re-reading and looking at it on Amazon, it looks excellent. Browsing his back catalogue I also find I’ve read ‘Soft’ which I remember and wasn’t convinced by. I would happily try more though, or re-read the ‘5 gates of hell’ as it’s already in my TBR.

    1. Jackie says:

      Annabel, It sounds as though Gates of Hell might be worth reading – which is great news as I already own it (along with The Insult) I hope this spells the start of a Thomspon revival in the blogging world :-)

  3. Steph says:

    I think writing elegantly about sex is one of the hardest things an author can set out to do. So often sexual writing winds up being awkward, but it sounds like Thomson managed to do something very interesting and provocative here. I’m a reader who doesn’t mind sexual content in the books I read, though I do take issue if its poorly written or seems gratuitous! I don’t think I’d have an issue with this book, and it does sound very provocative, so thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    1. Jackie says:


      “I think writing elegantly about sex is one of the hardest things an author can set out to do.”

      I agree! I spot potential entries for the “bad sex” award all the time! I think you’ll be impressed by the quality of the writing in this book – it is simple, but powerful. I hope you decide to give it try.

  4. Caroline says:

    I’m tempted and at the same time not sure I would like it. But thanks for bringing it to our attention. It does sound interesting.

    1. Jackie says:

      Caroline, I’m not sure you’ll like it – and because of its content I don’t think it is a book I’ll be rushing out to recommend to lots of people. It is a shame as I wish this book had a wider audience. If we were all more comfortable talking about these things the world might be a better place.

  5. This sounds fascinating. I love it when readers state that their original impressions of a work were completely 180’ed as they read on; not much intrigues me as much as that kind of statement! (And, no, I haven’t read anything of his, but, yes, now I want to!)

    1. Jackie says:

      Buried in Print, I do hope you decide to read one of Thomson’s books. I get the feeling he is too contraversial for his own good, but he does deserve more readers.

  6. Jenners says:

    This sounds different … but perhaps I can see why I haven’t heard too much about this.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners. Exactly. It is a shame, but if this post prompts a few people to read it (even if they do so secretly) then I’ll be happy.

  7. Neil Ansell says:

    Have not read any of his novels but would highly recommend his memoir This Party’s Got to Stop which was his first book of non-fiction and which came out last year.
    On the death of their father, three brothers move into the family home together and have a falling out so severe that the author becomes completely estranged from his younger brother. When they finally meet again after twenty years, the author is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew.
    Brutally honest and utterly gripping.

    1. Jackie says:

      Neil, Wow! That doesn’t sound like a memoir at all – it is much more like the premise of the average crime novel. I’m definitely going to get hold of a copy of that. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. parrish says:

    It’s funny what you say about writers slipping through the net, because I’ve read this & enjoyed (?) It & then totally forgot about this writer & although I’ve “This Party got to stop” ( won it on twitter I’ve not yet read it & I’d not made the connection that it was the same writer, so thanks for the info & reminder.
    Ps did you know it was made into a film

    1. Jackie says:

      parrish, Yes – I saw it had been made into a film, but it looks as though it didn’t work very well. I can see why – it is the sort of book that works much better in print – the sexual scenes would be especially hard to make tasteful on camera.

      From the comment above it looks as though you should start with the party book you have. I’d love to know your thoughts on it so hope you get around to reading it soon.

  9. I have not read this book, but I dare say that the issues raised are very contemporary. There are issues of females raping males, though not so widespread, in my country. Just like there are females who beat their male partners. Perhaps, the theme of female rapes of males and others could have been treated/explored without reverting to so much sex. It could be distasteful to the sensitivites, but then I could be wrong. Sometimes, telling it as it is could wake us up from our slumber.


  1. Secrecy by Rupert Thomson – Farm Lane Books Blog

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