Dressing as Julia
New York 1992
A shortage of girls for St Matthew’s Catholic High School’s end-of-semester play sees good-looking Jem Clarke taking the part of Julia. His closet gay drama teacher, Mon Howard, falls obsessively in love with him; so does older cast member Riccardo Parisi. When the production is invited to perform at a summer school in Nova Scotia, the team experience life-changing self-knowledge and passion.
New England 2020.
At Mon Howard’s funeral his pupils recognise how far their lives were shaped 28 years earlier by his decision to cast in his play a boy dressed as Julia.
Published May 2022
Dressing As Julia is a finalist in the 2023 Amazon Global Book Awards
In just the opening few chapters of this intriguing novel, I was impressed by the smooth, effortless writing. Characterisation, sense of place, dialogue, detail and – above all – strong feeling made a powerful impression. This is a sincere exploration of a middle-aged man’s infatuation with the central boyish character, and the passionate love (explicitly, but not gratuitously described) between two students in an end-of-semester play. This readable, emotionally moving novel (with its relevant theme as young people seek their sexual identity) deserves to find a sympathetic readership. Dr Philip Holt (author of “Malden College Tales”, “But That’s Ridiculous” and “God – the case against”) on Amazon
The novel is immediately engaging. The characters are drawn in such tender and sympathetic detail. There is a touching innocence in the evolution of the attraction between teenage boys and their teacher’s for his young student, who is unassuming, open, genuine and beautiful. Avril Phelps
A heart-warming story of love. Touching, tender, gritty and passionate set against a background of love, lust and friendship. The ending was thrilling and imaginative, and the use of English fantastic. Patrick Solomon on Amazon
A triumph! Fast-paced narrative and entirely natural dialogue. Up “August: Nova Scotia” the book was a joyful celebration of love and lust, but it became a thriller full of tension, the story ending very satisfyingly. The novel is most sympathetic in the treatment of gay characters. Jonathan Cave
Four out of four stars! The novel centres on discovery and transformation. It is a controversial book, but with a fascinating storyline – unique and very creative. The descriptive skills are highly commendable, and the novel easy to read. The insight into the main characters is laudable; it is a great book. It deserves a full four-star rating because it has such a captivating story. American On-line Book Club review
A fast and effective read: comical, tragic, historical. The hectic world of the school play, lost crushes – we vicariously share the lives of these true and human characters. Sezgin Kemal