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Holding the Man cover art

Holding the Man

By: Timothy Conigrave
Narrated by: Stephen Phillips
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Publisher's Summary

The mid-'70s: at an all-boys Catholic school in Melbourne, Timothy Conigrave falls wildly and sweetly in love with the captain of the football team. So begins a relationship that weathers disapproval, separation and ultimately death.

With honesty and insight, Holding the Man explores the highs and lows of any partnership and the strength of heart both men have to find when they test positive for HIV. This is a book as refreshing and uplifting as it is moving - a funny and sad and celebratory account of growing up gay.

©2009 Timothy Conigrave (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about Holding the Man

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  • Roy
  • 22-02-2019

Emotional, echoing with my own life

It hurts so badly because it was so beautifully written and so melancholy of Life Love and Death.
I struggled to sit with my own emotions as I listened to it, I hope at the end Tim was able to find peace with John. May they both rest in peace. Thank you audible.

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Heartbreakingly Beautiful

A heartbreakingly beautiful story, beautifully performed by Stephen Phillips. Every time I finish this story I tell myself I can't do it again - but its joy and power as an Australian gay narrative brings me back time and again.

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really good

read it all in one day, couldn't put it down. very good representation of the young gay experience

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horrible reader, great story

loved the storyline but the reader's pronounciation of the "s" letter is ear bleeding! sounds like nails on a whiteboard! i had to lower my volume! e.g "kid(S) get harra(SS)ed at (S)chool" ouch... my eardrums.

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1 person found this helpful

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A MUST Listen To!

A truly wholesome Australian story of love at a time when it wasn’t completely accepted. It truly is a rollercoaster of emotions, so be prepared to bring out the tissues!

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Beautiful love story

A truly moving memoir of lasting love, navigating puberty, homosexuality and prejudice in the 70’s & 80’s Australia, and the impacts of HIV and AIDS taking loved ones too soon.

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Incredible book

It feels like a life long journal. So much happiness and so much pain. A good reminder of the human condition. Absolutely worth the read.

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expect to tears and joy

I laughed, cried and felt every emotion in between with this listen. Beautiful narrative of identity, love, difference, discrimination, acceptance, grief, loss, and family. Exquisite narration.

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Queer Aussie storytelling at its finest

Being a gay Australian male, after watching the film. this novel took me on a beautiful emotional journey. Highly highly recommend, one of my favorite story’s ever!

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Overall a good listen

Overall a very good story touching on many areas of a homosexual relationship between two men. What they going through and experience.

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  • Lee Kelly
  • 08-09-2016

An Beautiful Love Story!

This is the only book the ever made me cry. A wonderful memoir of two people at the dawning of a new world and the harsh realities of opposition they faced. A true inspirational life long love story.

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  • Tina
  • 30-08-2016

Beautiful, heart-wrenching

Beautiful, heart-wrenching, candid, true. So glad Tim was able to finish this before he passed. The movie was wonderful, one of my lifetime favourites now, but it's better to read/hear the details of what was going on in Tim's mind. This story will linger in your mind.

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  • Spencer Porcello
  • 19-08-2016

One of the most real and honest books I've read!

Tim and John's story is beautifully crafted. I was captivated by the narrative and transported to my own experience as a boy at so many places in the story. A tragic yet magical ending. I wish I had had the opportunity to know Tim and John, but thanks, Tim, for sharing so transparently your harsh yet beautiful experience. It is one I will definitely re-read. I saw the movie first and was pleased to find the book on Audible.

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2 people found this helpful

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  • papa825
  • 21-10-2016

The most beautiful love story

I first saw the movie and was so moved that I wanted more of the intimate story of John & Tim.

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1 person found this helpful

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  • Ag
  • 06-08-2016

I love this story, the way it was told.

There's a type of rawness to it and very heartfelt. The ending was powerful and let me wondering about Tim.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 12-09-2021

Beautiful

Beautiful story, beautiful reading, that is if you can get passed the awkward adolescent stages. Even still, even then, beautifully worded. You really become the story and it really becomes you. Amazing.

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  • RFD
  • 03-03-2021

Great book and story telling by the narrator!

Such a great book. Sad but powerful written by Timothy Conigrave and beautifully read. So worth hearing or reading. Also an excellent movie and documentary.

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  • Precociousp
  • 18-05-2020

Revelent to this day

At an all-boys Catholic school in Melbourne, Timothy Conigrave fell wildly and sweetly in love with the captain of the football team. So began a relationship that was to last for 15 years, a love affair that weathered disapproval, separation and, ultimately death. This is an honest, uplifting, devastatingly brave book that I would highly recommend. The narrator did a phenomenal job given authenticity to the narrative.

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  • Whitney Knight
  • 23-01-2019

Breathtaking

This story is devastatingly honest. Listening to this book felt like sitting next to someone as they told you a painful story. So raw and real, you wish you could reach out and give comfort.
Now that Tim and John have obliterated my heart, I am going to go bury my broken feels in chocolate. Rest easy boys, together.

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  • Mandajanex
  • 13-12-2018

just excellent.

I loved the Australian narrator - his voice is melodical. I loved all the Melbourne details.

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  • Andy Hall
  • 04-11-2019

Have the tissues at the ready

Like others, I had seen the film first - which I also found very moving - and wanted to know more.

The story is obviously written from Tim's point of view, but manages to convey so much about all the characters involved and their emotions that you really feel you are living the events along with them. The narrator's choice of tone and pitch for the various people in the story, including indicating where Tim is thinking, certainly makes the book easy to understand in the audio version.

The relationship between Tim and John, and the people they encounter, takes you from joyful to cross to sad and back again, and finally to peace. This is not the sort of book to listen to while driving, or with other people around - even with a stash of tissues at the ready!

A real story of unconditional love with its highs and lows. Such a shame that these two beautiful people were taken from the world too early.

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5 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-01-2018

Raw and relevant.

Loved it. Brutally reflecting what might have happened to me. and what did not. Re awakened my fears and encouraged my celebration of life as is now unfolds.

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  • Andy Sargeant
  • 28-06-2016

Powerful and Stunning

I watched the film first (Which I never normally do) and wanted to know more. This book is one of the most amazing, poignant emotional rollercoaster of a book. What an amazing author who was taken far to soon. This book is a MUST read, just remember the tissues.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-09-2023

Love & loss.

I loved this ❤️ it's stayed with me i feel as though i have lost a loved one aswell ,have tissues ready . its beautiful. A story of two boys true love for each other . The narrator is brilliant it's as if you are there with them,their friends are like a big extended family. Heartbreaking and uplifting I highly recommend this book . Definitely 5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

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  • James Doody
  • 11-05-2023

Beautifully sad story

Loved this book. Felt so attached to the characters. Was a weeping mess by the end

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  • Michael
  • 26-04-2023

A moving story that was both uplifting and sad

I was born over a decade after the main characters. The difference in being 15-25 in the 80s versus the 90s is massive. The loss across the gay community was huge and so unrecognised. This story brings that to life, from the earliest experiences of figuring yourself out to the sad and brutal reality that HIV had on so many young people. This is a great story. It made me love the characters, hate some of their actions, and cry at the terrible loss so many experienced in the 80s and 90s. A great book.

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  • Tony
  • 08-01-2023

Beautiful Account of a life together.

A very powerful and beautifully written and performed account of profound love of two men at a very difficult time. I found it very moving and an inspiration. Thank you.

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  • Thom Davies
  • 14-12-2022

A beautiful story about a beautiful love

A heart wrenching and frank tale of the life of gay men during the AIDs pandemic. Finished in about 3 days because I couldn’t stop listening. I have always loved the film and decided to listen to the book. It did not disappoint.

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  • Jitterbug
  • 27-06-2022

Profoundly moving

This book was beautifully read by Stephen Phillips, who spoke with such feeling throughout.

What a profoundly moving story. I was immersed from the start, and loved the glimpse of Australia from the 1970’s and beyond. Despite the tragic undercurrent of the book, there’s something wonderful about the relaxed and carefree lives Tim Conigrave and his friends were able to lead. The teenagers sound so independent and self-sufficient, and they know how to have fun!

This makes the harsh reactions to the lads coming out, even more stark. Suddenly they are thrown into a dark world of survival and rejection, forbidden love and personal feelings mixed in with shame, religious beliefs and condemnation.

It is written from the heart, so the reader is plunged into the fire and forced to feel the pain and injustice experienced by the author. But there is so much genuine love and affection too. It just blows you away.

This book will leave its mark on you. I love it for its raw honesty and its heartbreaking truth. There is nowhere to hide. Tim Conigrave has ripped the blackout blinds from the window - exposing a beautiful and intimate world constantly pummelled by prejudice.

I am still emotionsl after reading this book, and probably will be for a while. I want to tell loads of people about it. It’s one I will read again.


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  • Alex
  • 14-05-2022

Could not finish

After reading the 5 star reviews here, I was quite surprised to find that the vast majority of this book had essentially zero plot or intrigue, other than who young Tim will sleep with next, and the fact that he is gay. This leaves us with a one dimensional protagonist. The writing style is on the simplistic side, and the attempted comical anecdotes fell flat for me. Perhaps I will finish this one day and change my mind based on the ending but after listening to 7 hours, I was only bored.

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