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Aelred's Sin

News of his brother’s death brings Robert de la Borde from the Caribbean to England, during the 1980s. Reading through Jean Marc’s old journals , Robert is intrigued by what he finds. He attempts to piece together the fragments of his brothers’s troubled life by visiting Ashton park Monastery, which Jean Marc entered twenty years earlier as Brother Aelred.

As he delves further into his brother’s secret life, Robert’s discoveries take him on an emotional journey, one in which he is forced to question his inherited prejudices and confront a ghost of Jean Marc’s childhood. What unfolds is a tender story about the triumph of compassion over brutality.

Moving from present to past, from cruelty to sympathy, Aelred’s Sin is a powerful novel of erotic love, spiritual awakening and, above all reconciliation.

Critical Essays

See references to the most recent work on Aelred’s Sin and related work on multidimensional queerness by Bastien Bomans, PhD student at the University of Liège, CEREP (Postcolonial Research Centre; https://www.cerep.uliege.be/cms/c_4435147/en/cerep-about-cerep).

Bomans, Bastien. 2018. "'Never in twos, always in threes…' Or More!: Disrupting the Binary Categories of Gender, Sexuality and Race in Lawrence Scott's Aelred's Sin". Master dissertation, University of Liège. (Web: http://hdl.handle.net/2268/245088) This MA dissertation was awarded the François Delor Prize (https://www.arcenciel-wallonie.be/prix-francois-delor!) and the Léon Guérin Prize (https://www.amis.uliege.be/cms/c_11414868/fr/amis-bastien-bomans) in 2019.

Bomans, Bastien. 27/02/2019. "'Queer Crossings': Mirroring Silenced Stories of Oppression in Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin (1998)". Paper presented at the 5th Annual Postgraduate Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies, Birmingham (England). (Web: http://hdl.handle.net/2268/245087)

Bomans, Bastien. 15/12/2020. "Queer(y)ing the Chasms: Building Solidarities and Resistance Against Oppression in Queer Trinidadian Literature". Poster presented at the Young Researchers Overseas’ Day (RAOS), Brussels (Belgium). (Web: http://hdl.handle.net/2268/255581)

'Into the Kumbla: Patricia Murray (City Metropolitan University) 2001-The Search for Intimacy and Protection in Aelred's Sin - paper presented to BRITISH BRAIDS conference, Brunel University.

To Heal the Body: Patricia Murray (City & Metropolitan Unversity) 2002 -The Marvellous Real in Witchbroom and Aelred's Sin - paper presented to EACLALS Conference Copenhagen University.

Hewson, Kelly & Easton, Lee. Positions and Practices in Postcolonial and Queer theory: Reading Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin, Mount Royal College Calgary

Jardim, Keith. 1998 Trinidad Author Writes Brilliant Work of Art, Trinidad Guardian, October 27, 18

Lawson Welsh, Sarah. 2000 Out in the Open represented sexualities in Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms At Night(1996) and Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin (1998)

Maes-Jelinek, Hena. 2000. Lawrence Scott’s Caribbeanness: A Personal Reading of Witchbroom and Aelred’s Sin Eds RP Corballis & Andre Viola Post-Colonial Knitting : The Art of Jacqueline Bardolph –Sophia Antepolis CRELA 54-70

Powell, Patricia, Spring 1999, Review of Aelred’s sin, Wasafiri 29, pp 2-3

Pantin, Raoul, 1998, Aelred’s Sin a Novel of Compassion, Sunday Express T&T November 1 1998 ,3.

Rahim, Jennifer. Fall 2005 Not knowing the difference: Calypso overseas, the sound of belonging in selected narratives of migration. Anthurium, A Caribbean Studies Journal Vol 3, Issue 2.

Wroe, Emily. 2000 A Strange synchronicity: Landscapes in Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin - Warwick University/ Cheltenham College/ Caribbean Studies Online.


Aelred’s Sin is a book full of interest and daring. The details of monastic life, the layering of relationships and the exploration of various possibilities for male relationships form part of the tension that Scott creates and sustains throughout. Judges Citation - Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 1999.

This is a moving and beautiful book. It is a tragedy in the classical sense, in that it reveals the profound sorrow that often lies at the heart of conflicting human loves. But it is also a universal plea to let love speak its many names to a world that has need of them all. Richard Holloway author of Looking In The Distance

Lawrence Scott takes the reader behind monastery walls into the struggle of young men with the meaning of love and writes with passion about faith and homoeroticism: Aelred’s Sin is suffused with perfumed memories of the tropics and the heat of broken desires. Marina Warner

Sensitive, seductive, compassionate, Aelred’s Sin is a nuanced exploration of sexual and religious identity, a theme that transcends time and specific locations, a theme as old as humanity itself. Patricia Powell Wasafiri

Compelling fiction which examines the conflicting impulses of sensual love and religious self-denial in the universe of the monastery. James Ferguson - The Tablet

It is full of vivid descriptive passages of the monastic routine and the natural world. It is unfailingly sincere. Times Literary Supplement

A powerful novel of homoerotic love, spiritual awakening and above all reconciliation. Publishing News

A writer who is slowly building up a solid reputation as one of the important writers of a new generation …There is a great deal of sensitivity in Scott’s portrayal of all his characters…an important work to sensitise change. Prof. Ken Ramchand - Sunday Guardian

Bitter-sweet historical gay novel, stylishly written. Bristol Evening Post

Representations of Homophobic Violencei in Anglophone Caribbean Literature - Geraldine Skeete - The University of the West Indies Institute of Gender and Development Studies Link

(Not) Knowing the Difference: Calypso Overseas and the Sound of Belonging in Selected Narratives of Migration - Jennifer Rahim - Anthurium Link

gspottt: t&t’s site for passion & advocacy about sexual orientation and gender identity & expression. A project of CAISO: Trinidad & Tobago's Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation. Link

(En)Countering Masculinity in Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin - Tyrone Ali, International Journal of Arts and Commerce Link

Reviews - Trinidad & Tobago

A fine and sensitive and compassionate book that, disturbing as it sometimes is, demonstrates genuine literary skill…A gifted achievement; it is a worthwhile contribution to the hallowed tradition of West Indian literature. Raoul Pantin - Sunday Express T&T

A compassionate beautifully written and thoroughly explicit story of homoeroticism. Aelred’s Sin is a big work in every way and will further reinforce Lawrence Scott’s reputation as an established and important Caribbean writer. Keith Jardim - Trinidad Guardian

Scott skilfully evokes the sombre atmosphere of monastic life. His descriptive writing is beautiful. If you fantasise about love among the religious orders, this is your book. Bruce Carolan - Gay News

Controversial… scandalous…revealing…titillating… shocking. Aelred’s Sin a novel of lust and love within the confining walls of an English monastery. Debbie Jacob - Express T&T


This book review section is Part One of a special cross-journal collaboration between sx salon and Anthu- rium. As two open-access Caribbean ... - R Cummings - Link

Dialogues: Reviewing the Queer Caribbean - University of Miami Libraries - Link

Representations of Homophobic Violencei in Anglophone Caribbean Literature - Geraldine Skeete - The University of the West Indies Institute of Gender and Development Studies Link

(En)Countering Masculinity in Lawrence Scott’s Aelred’s Sin - Tyrone Ali, International Journal of Arts and Commerce Link




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