Er, my review is long overdue. Not that the book was overdue. Well, as a fan of Tigers & Devils, I wanted a sequel long before it was written but was pleased with its timing when it arrived at last.
And not that this is going to be a review, exactly, more a stream of consciousness listing of things I think might be relevant to potential readers.
Also possibly relevant: I re-read this after The Reluctant Wag because it’s the only other book I know of that it set in the periphery of the Australian Football League.
Publication date: October 2012
After an eventful and sometimes uncomfortably public courtship, Simon Murray and Declan Tyler settled into a comfortable life together. Now retired from the AFL, Declan works as a football commentator; Simon develops programs with queer content for a community television station.
Despite their public professional lives, Simon and Declan manage to keep their private life out of the spotlight. Their major concerns revolve around supporting their friends through infertility and relationship problems—until Greg Heyward, Declan’s ex-partner, outs himself in a transparent bid for attention.
Though Simon and Declan are furious with Greg and his media antics, they can’t agree on what to do about it. Declan insists they should maintain a dignified silence, but both he and Simon keep getting drawn into Heyward’s games. Simon and Declan will once again have to ride out the media storm before they can return their attention to what really matters: each other.
Cover art: It matches a scene in the book and the models’ clothing suits/matches that of the characters generally. Very similar to the cover art for Tigers & Devils. All in all, inoffensive and frankly better than 95% of what’s out there IMO.
Heat level: mild, kisses only on the page and other bedroom activities implied off-page.
Does this book stand alone? Well, a reader could muddle through and get the main plot, but it really works better if you’ve read Tigers & Devils first. Not just because you’ll know all the players (heh) but also because you’ll get to see what I think is the best part of the duology — Simon.
General observation: My main criticism of T&D was that the last 1/3 of the book stretched too long and needed better pacing and editing. That may have been a function of a debut (I think?) or editing by the publisher; I don’t think Tigerland has that problem.
What did I like? This book uses the same general structure as T&D, dividing into sections that mirror that of a football game, with an epilogue as overtime.
Tigerland (and T&D too) works because of Simon’s POV. As sympathetically as Declan is portrayed by Simon’s narration, as a character he’s too reserved and measured to work as the narrator here. Simon, on the other hand, is a cynic and a pragmatist whose snark and pop culture references push the book along and give it a contemporary feeling — Godwin’s Law, Harry Potter, Devil Wear Prada, Star Trek, JFK theories, different musical acts, they all get dropped into Simon’s dialogue, internal and spoken.
Both Simon and Declan remain consistent, character-wise, in this book even though they’ve grown a little — grown together and grown comfortable with their relationship and their circle of friends/family. Simon’s soft underside is mostly revealed in moments alone with Declan or with the people they’ve made their family.
I very much enjoyed the feeling of Melbourne as a secondary character. T&D introduced me to some Australian slang (WAGs, bogan, etc.) and now I’ve learned about lamingtons (look good), vanilla slice (looks like a vanilla Napoleon), and the Apostles (on my list for my eventual Australia trip).
What didn’t I like? Well…it felt like one subplot was wedged in and then resolved without being explained or used as anything other than a justification for the setting of the epilogue.
Recommended. But perhaps you should take that with a grain of salt because I am not the most demanding of readers when it comes to this book or its predecessor (which was reviewed here).