REVIEW: Amongst Fools and Fundamentalists – Jens Laursen-Schmidt

Amongst Fools and Fundamentalists... - Jens Laursen-Schmidt

Genre: Contemporary

LGBTQ+ Category: MM Gay

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Mathias Bastholm has never felt close to his family. His father, a former pastor, is dead after throwing himself from the church belltower, and his widowed mother is now an alcoholic, threatening to disown her son for coming out as gay. A prospective ear, nose, and throat doctor, Mathias simply wants to get on with his specialist training and marry his boyfriend, Kamal, as the two share a passionate connection that transcends their different cultural backgrounds.

However, just as the couple settle into a routine, establishing the foundations of their relationship while sharing a home and working at the same hospital in rural West Jutland, their lives are upended by tragedy. Although Mathias has reconciled himself to his mother’s estrangement, he and Kamal now find themselves building a different kind of family, forced to come to terms with a completely new plan for their future together.

But every marriage has its obstacles. Kamal, an Iranian immigrant still struggling with the Danish language, faces questions about his own identity, including how to reconcile his faith with his husband’s disdain for religion. Meanwhile, Mathias wrestles not only with conflicting emotions about his family but also with romantic temptations that could shake his relationship with Kamal.

In turns philosophical, absurdist, and romantic, Amongst Fools and Fundamentalists explores the meanings of family and love in a changing world.

The Review

Mathias Bastholm and Kamal Rafsanjani met at Aarhus university during their clinical education. Their search for training specialist positions got them both into Holstebro, Kamal as a psychiatrist and Mathias as an ENT.  

Mathias has a lot of issues with his mother. She’s an alcoholic, claims to be very religious and of course objects to her son’s relationship with Kamal, in denial of many things and is constantly rude.  She also drags Mathias’ younger brother David into the chaotic drama.  

David is studying theology, is to Anette and has a fairly new baby boy, Tobias.  When a tragedy befalls David, life for Anette becomes hard to face.  She struggles to take care of Tobia,s and makes a very important decision that affects Mathias and Kamal. 

From boyfriends to marriage, and then with the addition of a new baby, their life becomes a whirlwind.  Family tragedies, senseless killings in Kamal’s country and having to face prejudice, even at the hospital, have their new life together spiraling out of control.  It all adds up to many important conversations about their new life and the changes that are to come. 

This is a look at two different men of different ethnicities, with goals and dreams for themselves living in Denmark. At first, I didn’t know if I liked Mathias.He didn’t cave to his mother or brother David, which was a plus in his column, but I didn’t like that he flirted. He seemed to have a loyalty to Kamal but wanted more.

Even though there’s an understanding between “sex and love” with them, I felt they were trying to hard to convince each other that “sex was sex” but love was more important.  It gave me the feeling, the more they said it or thought about, that it was ok to “stray”.

As smart as Mathias is, he’s also very naive about how to handle his one mistake. He puts both Kamal and Tobias in a situation that could be very dangerous and doesn’t see the consequences that come along with it. What he and Kamal have physically is more than what most couples do.

Kamal is more loyal to the relationship. He really takes on the responsibility of raising and taking care of Tobias. He also has an understanding people in general.  For me, Kamal was one of the most outstanding characters in this novel. 

Jens Laursen-Schmidt is a first time author for me. I was intrigued and impressed with all the characters and subjects discussed throughout the book. The author presented intelligent conversations between Mathias and Kamal about war, military, suicide, raising a child, love and sex, religion, politics,  homosexuality and many other issues.

Suicide may be a trigger for some readers, but for me, I felt the discussions between Mathias and Kamal were more clinical and filled with understanding.

Read the “Preface” too – it gives some important information on the western part of Denmark” the universities, hospital, politicians and health services.

There are some very impressive secondary characters too: Mogen and Lars. Lotte and Beshad, who were there to support Mathias and Kamal.  And Annette, who really brought her struggle to the forefront. 

“Among Fools and Fundamentalists” is a page-turner, filled with fascinating intellectual conversations and just a little danger and mystery. 

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California.  Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018.  My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen.  New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012.  She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series.  Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book! 

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing.  I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews.  One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group.  Joining her site was such an eye opener.  I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.

 

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