By Sadie Jones
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061374036, 352pp.)
Publication Date: March 2008
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A mesmerizing portrait of 1950s hypocrisy and unexpected love, from a powerful new voice
It is 1957, and Lewis Aldridge, straight out of prison, is journeying back to his home in Waterford, a suburban town outside London. He is nineteen years old, and his return will have dramatic consequences not just for his family, but for the whole community.
A decade earlier, his father's homecoming has a very different effect. The war is over and Gilbert has been demobilized. He reverts easily to suburban life—cocktails at six-thirty, church on Sundays—but his wife and young son resist the stuffy routine. Lewis and his mother escape to the woods for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert's wife counters convention, but they are all shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her.
Not far away, Kit Carmichael keeps watch. She has always understood more than most, not least from what she is dealt by her own father's hand. Lewis's grief and burgeoning rage are all too plain, and Kit makes a private vow to help. But in her attempts to set them both free, she fails to foresee the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open.
In this brilliant debut, Sadie Jones tells the story of a boy who refuses to accept the polite lies of a tightly knit community that rejects love in favor of appearances. Written with nail-biting suspense and cinematic pacing, The Outcast is an emotionally powerful evocation of postwar provincial English society and a remarkably uplifting testament to the redemptive powers of love and understanding.
“Riveting…A superb debut novel about repression, rebellion, and moving on…The tension in THE OUTCAST is palpable and sensuous, beating loudly beneath the tranquil surface of Jones’s calm prose, and Lewis never disappoints in his fight for an ‘after’ that is happy and shame-free.”
-Elaina Richardson, O magazine
“A superb debut novel…Jones’s prose is fluid, and Lewis’s suffering comes across as achingly real.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“With her lush writing and tantalizing sense of setting and detail, Jones has written a novel that stands apart from rote imitation, and...offers the welcome promise of a literary career of originality and distinction.”
“An arresting story”
-Washington Post Book World
“One of the more subtle of the…hot debut novelists…this season”
-New York Sun
“Beautifully delicate...ever more compelling as Jones builds in a palpable sense of suspense.”
-Booklist (starred review)