SIMON’S MANSION, the third book in William Poe’s LGBT literary fiction series, is a compelling story about Simon, the protagonist, and his journey of self-discovery while navigating a strange family dynamic as he explores creativity, religion, and the relationships that ultimately define him. Poe writes, halfway through the novel, “Simon gave himself permission to love, to pursue his art and his education; he accepted the right to be himself despite what others wanted from him. Science made sense, and that was what Simon needed most—for his life to make sense” (153). The third-person omniscient narrator allows the reader to know Simon intimately, as he finds his way through the existential confusion of finding his place in the world: a story that the reader can relate to, regardless of his or her individual path.
Taking place in small town Arkansas, setting plays a significant role in the novel, but what is more important is the concept of home, and the ghosts that haunt each of us, no matter how hard we try to escape them. Fighting through addiction, a search for God and the meaning of his own life, Simon must face the ghosts of his past in order to grow and, ultimately, to grow up. There are amends to make to those he’s hurt, and Simon discovers that regardless of how difficult it may be to make those amends, the alternative is even more painful.
It’s easy to classify SIMON’S MANSION as a coming-of-age story, or a search for identity, because each are accurate. What makes the novel worth reading, however, is the authenticity that Poe captures in Simon. There is truth in his search. His questions are worthwhile and universal. And you can find yourself in him, no matter how different you are from him. In the end, Simon faces roots of his childhood when he sees his mother in the hospital—“the woman who’d made Simon feel loved, made him know that he deserved love” (271).
In SIMON’S MANSION, William Poe brings his character Simon back to his small town home in Arkansas as he faces the ghosts of his past to desperately find what ultimately matters, creating an emotionally resonant story of universal reach.
~Geoff Watkinson for IndieReader