Title: With Gladness
Author: D.W. Marchwell
Length: 36 pages
Publisher: Free story on author’s website
Genre: m/m contemporary romance
This was just the sort of story I like when I’m in the mood for something sombre but ultimately uplifting. The story tells of Andy who is a deeply religious gay man who has strong ties to his church. His passion is singing in the choir and he fears that should it ever be discovered that he is gay, he would be thrown out of his church and lose the opportunity to sing. Andy is approached by his pastor and asked whether he will sing for a funeral. Apparently the deceased was a huge fan of his singing and requested that Andy sing at his funeral. Andy regrets never meeting Jacob but sings his best at the funeral, where he also meets Jacob’s brother Karl. There’s a connection between them but Andy feels torn between his growing feelings for Karl and his faith.
I said earlier that this is a sombre read, which it is, with a tinge of melancholy in Karl’s fond remembrances of his brother Jacob. However, it’s also beautifully written with many touching and tender moments. I felt a great deal of sympathy for Andy and thought that the author had perfectly captured the different facets of his personality. He has a strong faith, a complete respect and brotherly love for his pastor, a compulsion to sing and a quiet, thoughtful personality. He long ago made the decision that his faith and place in the church were more important to him than sex and relationships (although he has had some experience with that), so when Karl appears in his life he’s torn by new feelings of desire. The way that this was resolved at the end was realistically done, with a number of pieces slotting into place during the final scene.
The story is mainly focused on Andy and also in some ways, Jacob, who dominates the discussions between Andy and Karl. As a result we don’t really get to know much about Karl other than his fierce love for his brother and the sadness he feels at Jacob’s passing. I would have liked to have known more about him, especially as the story ends with a promise for the future, rather than an outright HEA.
Overall, this was a delightful short story with a theme which I found realistic and touching. It brought tears to my eyes on several occasions but ultimately left me feeling happy and hopeful. I love stories which rely strongly on character and situation to forward the emotion, rather than misplaced sexual indicators and this story fit that bill. As such, I highly recommend With Gladness, which managed to combine a sensible and sympathetic approach to religious faith with a very moving romance.