Square Affair by Timmothy J. Holt

Square Affair by Timmothy J. Holt
Publisher: Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (244 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

In the small Midwestern town of Dewers, among the turmoil of the 1960s, the conversations of five men leads to sexual exploration, which takes them and the town on a journey through good and evil that will change the entire community and confirm the town’s resolve to survive.

Arrested on charges of public indecency for anonymous sex in the courthouse restroom, five men reveal complex, unknown, and differing motivations for their actions. As they face not only criminal prosecution, but also the tribunal of Dewers, two questions are on their minds: Who am I, and is anyone out there like me?

Clara May and Frieda, guardians of Dewers gossip, narrate Square Affair, where the reader becomes a citizen of Dewers: walking the square, in a bar drinking, trick-or-treating, in a store buying a hat, or in a car gossiping.

Sometimes sleepy little towns aren’t as sleepy as you might think. Take Dewers, IL, for example. On the outside, it looks like your typical little Midwestern hamlet, but once you step inside, dig around for a bit, you’re bound to uncover things you’d never expected. Or, you could just ask Clara May and Frieda. Nothing happens in Dewers that the two of them aren’t privy to.

Square Affair was a change of pace for me. While I love historical novels, when I reach for one, it’s usually not set in the recent past. Set in the 1960’s amidst all the changes sweeping through our country, I got a good look into the way people thought and acted in a time when I wasn’t even alive. Having grown up in the 1980’s, the idea that someone might be homosexual (and, in turn, engaging in a romantic relationship with someone of the same sex) wasn’t ever a surprise or revelation to me. However, in the 1960’s, life was much different.

The five men involved in the ‘Affair’ as the locals called it, covered all the bases. Happily married, unhappy in their relationship, single, you name it. One knew he was gay even before the Affair, while others weren’t even sure why they’d indulged by the time the book ended. It was very realistic in its portrayal of the townspeople, both those directly involved and those who weren’t. Square Affair also gripped me in a way that most things don’t. I will admit it – I was angry during so much of this book. These men were lonely, confused, suffering, and yet, all they earned was ridicule and scorn and hatred. It was difficult to continually remind myself that this was a different time in our country.

The one issue I did have with the novel was that some of the dialogue was stilted, predictable even. Although, once you got into the story, you noticed it less and less because the characters took over. Told in revolving points of view that include the men involved in the affair, their wives, and a few townspeople, it is mostly directed by town gossip queen, Clara May. Before each new point of view is introduced, you got a bit of insight from Clara May and her pal, Frieda. I found this an interesting and different way of prefacing each chapter and gave you a little insider information on each player before you ‘met’ them.

Square Affair is a thought-provoking look not just into our past, but into all that small town living is. For someone who wasn’t alive during the time period, it was an eye-opening read.


  1. […] Long and Short Reviews welcomes Timmothy J. Holt, whose latest book Square Affair was released earlier this year.  Please see our review here. […]

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