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At the heart of this novel is a young man, Lewis Aldridge, who we see first as a child. He has been living a quiet, calm and contented life with his mother whilst his father has been away at war (WW2). When his father returns and is back in their lives and assuming the role of head of the house it has an unsettling effect on them and events begin to unfold which have a life long effect on Lewis.
His life spirals out of control, one event following another, to the point where he commits an act so serious that he is sent to prison.
The novel, set in the 1950s gives just the right feel of a tight-knit upper middle class community, with repressed social attitudes. You never know what's going on behind closed doors. A seemingly respectable family is suffering horrifically violent domestic abuse at the hands of the upstanding Church-going father, and are too terrified of losing their social standing ever to admit the shame of their terrible injuries. There's self-harm, alcoholism, under-age sex, buttoned-up repressed emotions, post-traumatic stress, social ostracism, bullying and mental illness. It's all there, in bucket loads. It's full on and doesn't let up all the way through. Emotionally it's quite draining and if you're looking for a happy ending well there's really only a glimmer and it's not that hopeful, if it ever does happen.
I don't think there's a single character who wouldn't have benefitted from counselling or psychotherapy and, in Dicky Carmichael's case, much more.
Yes it's a depressing read, but well worth it. It sounds wrong now to say that I enjoyed it, but it is a good novel, well written. After all no-one would ever read Hardy if happy endings were always required!Read moreLess
"Gripping, but in equal measure disturbing and thought provoking -…"
Gripping, but in equal measure disturbing and thought provoking - a really good read!Read moreLess
"A friend lent me this book, it's not the type…"
A friend lent me this book, it's not the type of thing I would choose,however I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it.Read moreLess
"The Outcast opens with Lewis Aldridge returning to his home…"
The Outcast opens with Lewis Aldridge returning to his home town after a completing a prison term. From here Sadie Jones' mesmerising first novel retraces the steps which have led him here, from his idyllic early childhood during WW2, through an increasingly troubled and misunderstood adolescence, shaped by the death of his mother.
Written from the heart, this stunning debut gripped me from the first page to the last - although the ending is almost too satisfactory, after such a bittersweet, nuanced novel.
It's no surprise to learn that Sadie Jones' background is in screenwriting - her strength is in the dialogue, spare but effective charactisation, and practiced pacing. The Outcast will draw you into its fully realised world, and keep you there until the final page.Read moreLess
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"A mesmerizing debut about loss and the possibility of redemption.…"
A mesmerizing debut about loss and the possibility of redemption. A character-driven novel that grabs you by the collar and drags you in to a claustrophobic world of post-war, upper middle-class cordiality, masking deep sadness and broken lives. This is an emotional, psychological novel, which I devoured in two evenings. You would never believe it is a first novelRead moreLess