Bibliophile | ‘Gwen & Art Are Not In Love’ is about getting to know yourself

Gwen & Art Are Not In Love
by Lex Croucher


Although there has never been any evidence that King Arthur and his Round Table of knights actually existed, legend has it that he ruled England sometime in the late 5th century or early 6th century. For centuries, people have relished the tales of Camelot, King Arthur who loved Guinevere, who in turn loved Sir Lancelot.

The stories vary and some even have Arthur and Lancelot as lovers, but it must be remembered that sexuality was much less compartmentalised and people could have bonds of deep affection without judgement. But King Arthur would have been Roman Catholic and the church probably would have been working on its own indoctrination.

Non-binary author Lex Croucher picked up the tale during 2020 when they were desperate for some form of escapism. “I had so much fun running around this crumbling castle, spending my summer at the tournament when I was really stuck at home on my sofa in London.”

Set in Camelot, generations after King Arthur was supposed to have been around, 17 year-old Gwen (Gwendoline) has been betrothed since birth to Art (Arthur Delacey), heir to the title of Lord of Maidvale, but she dislikes him immensely.

Far more appealing was Lady Bridget Leclair, the only female knight in the country, who has arrived in Camelot to compete in the royal tournament. As an only child, Bridget’s father saw no reason not to treat her as he would a son.

Meanwhile, as the Arthurian cultists face off against the Catholic Church, Arthur is busy getting drunk and chasing after young men, and Gwen’s bookish brother Gabriel is crippled by internalised homophobia and self-doubt.

There are lots of high jinks and modern-day banter and jokes as the tournament progresses in this YA fiction, but when the fights become real and spies reveal secrets, grown-up decisions have to be made.

As Lex says, this book is about getting to know yourself, and being brave enough to let other people get to know you too.” Amongst the jousts, sword fighting, court politics and planning for much-dreaded wedding, it’s about allowing yourself to be a friend, and to fall in love.

Lezly Herbert

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