The Gentleman and the Lamplighter by Summer Devon
Giles can’t sleep after the loss of someone dear to him, so he walks the streets of London alone in his sorrow. One night, just before dawn, he encounters a lamplighter shutting off the gas lamps on his street. They end up chatting. John has always been curious about Giles, the man he’s seen so often taking solitary walks, that he comes up with fanciful tales to explain Giles’ nocturnal constitutionals.
Giles finds he looks forward to accompanying John as he makes his rounds. Strolling through the quiet and darkened streets, they talk about a number of things, ranging from benign pleasantries to the emotional burden of their own individual losses.
John admits that, before he lost his wife, they had a unique understanding concerning their preferences for companionship. This leads Giles to safely confide, in the most vague and gentlemanly way possible, that he loved the man that he lost.
John’s invitation for tea gives them the opportunity to explore their interest in one another. A gentle kiss, a soft caress, leads to an enthusiastic and emotionally freeing tumble in John’s bed.
His newfound happiness leads Giles to finally face talking to the widow of the man he loved. While he is out of town getting some closure, John interprets Giles’ absence as a rebuke of their night together. It is too painful to walk past Giles’ house every night, so he switches routes with another lamplighter.
When John no longer shows up on his rounds, Giles goes for a walk and comes across a bookstore that John mentioned that he liked. Johns love of books and the theatre were often a topic of their conversations. The shop keep explains to Giles that John is not only fond of literature and the theatre, but he is a playwright as well.
When John walks in, they are joyfully reunited and Giles explains that if his short time with John has proven anything, it’s that he’d much rather choose happiness over sorrow. The gentleman and the lamplighter/playwright definitely have a lot more happiness in their lives together to look forward to.
There’s a wonderful sense of gentle kindness at play in this charming historical novella. When Giles and John take their walks, they’re able to discuss things and support one another in ways that no one else in their lives can. They are both working through feelings of loss and it’s through those discussions they realize that, not only are they in love, but they’re capable of coming to terms with their sadness to find joy on the other side.
The Gentleman and the Lamplighter is available in both ebook and audiobook formats. A quick shout out to Mark James who I thought did a particularly good job of narrating this story.