"LOTE is arguably one of the best books published in the past five years. It is rich with British Black nonbinary decadence and an attempt to tear away from the oppressive drabness permeating around us. For lovers of brilliant books, literary traditions, mysterious obsessions, absurdism in the real, and reconstructing your brain chemistry from how fucking good and unique a work is. Also, the book literally opens with, 'An incensed blond twink said, "Excuse me, miss! Where do you think you're going? This is a members-only club.' So it is far from drab and utterly compelling."
Solitary Mathilda has long harbored a conflicted enchantment bordering on rapture with the "Bright Young Things," the Bloomsbury Group, and their contemporaries of the '20s and '30s, and throughout her life her attempts at reinvention have mirrored their extravagance and artfulness. After discovering a photograph of the forgotten Black modernist poet Hermia Druitt, who ran in the same circles as the Bright Young Things, Mathilda becomes transfixed and resolves to learn as much as she can about the mysterious figure. Her search brings her to a peculiar artists' residency in Dun, a small European town in which Hermia was known to have lived during the '30s. The artists' residency throws her deeper into a lattice of secrets and secret societies that takes hold of her aesthetic imagination. From champagne theft and Black Modernisms to art sabotage, alchemy, and a lotus-eating proto-luxury communist cult, Mathilda's "Escapes" through modes of aesthetic expression lead her to question the convoluted ways truth is made and obscured.
Shola von Reinhold's decadent queer literary debut immerses readers in the pursuit of aesthetics and beauty, while interrogating the removal and obscuring of Black figures from history.