The Outcast

Front Cover
Knopf Canada, Mar 5, 2010 - Fiction - 352 pages
30 Reviews
The village was asleep, with all the people behind the walls and through the windows and up the stairs of the little houses blind and deaf in their beds while anything might happen. Lewis headed down the middle of the road and he kept falling and had to remember to get back on his feet.

He reached the churchyard and stood in the dark with the church even darker above him.

Ėfrom The Outcast by Sadie Jones


Itís 1957. Nineteen-year-old Lewis Aldridge is returning by train to his home in Waterford where he has just served a two-year prison term for a crime that shocked the sleepy Surrey community. Wearing a new suit, he carries money his father Gilbert sent ó to keep him away, he suspects ó and a straight razor. No one greets him at the station.

Twelve years earlier, seven-year-old Lewis and his spirited mother Elizabeth are on the same train, bringing Gilbert home from war. Waterford is experiencing many such reunions, alcohol lubricating awkward homecomings and community gatherings. The most oppressive of these are the mandatory holiday parties hosted by the townís leading industrialist Dicky Carmichael, Gilbertís employer. With the Carmichael estate backing onto the Aldridge property, the attractive and popular Tamsin Carmichael and her precocious kid sister Kit are Lewisís playmates, along with a gaggle of neighbourhood boys who (like Lewis) are fascinated by Tamsin. The children play thrilling and cruel games, mirroring the adultsí inebriated dysfunction.

Though pleased to be reunited with Elizabeth, Gilbert is appalled by the coddling his son has received in his absence. No longer permitted to skip church for picnics by the river, Elizabeth and Lewis are steered back under the ever-judgmental gaze of Waterford society. Lewis continues to flourish, a naturally capable golden child. But iconoclastic Elizabeth, disappointed by Gilbertís insistence on conformity, seeks refuge in the bottle.

Then a sunny riverside picnic ends with Elizabeth dead and ten-year-old Lewis the only witness. A shattered Gilbert is incapable of providing comfort to his young son and the community of Waterford turns away from the traumatized child, now rendered a pariah by tragedy. Lewis is sent to boarding school, summoned home only for holidays. Gilbert remarries five months later to Alice, a compliant beauty who is not up to the task of parenting a damaged child.

Years pass and Lewis, now a troubled teenager, is lost in dangerous and self-harming behaviours. When an incident with a local bully causes Lewis to be even further estranged from the community, Gilbert and Alice stand idly by as Lewis is tormented by the tyrannical Dicky. Enraged, Lewis commits a shocking crime against the whole of Waterford and is sent to prison.

Two years later, upon his shamed return, the town continues to treat Lewis as an outcast. Only Tamsinís little sister Kit, now a young woman, sees in him the golden boy he once was. She had become infatuated with Lewis years earlier when he had casually protected her from bullies and broken bicycle chains. But she now faces a much darker and more dangerous sort of bullying at the hands of her father. It is up to Lewis once again to rescue her, redeeming himself through tremendous courage and terrible sacrifice. And perhaps Kit holds the power to rescue him, too.

Winner of the Costa First Novel Award and a finalist for the prestigious Orange Prize, Sadie Jonesís The Outcast introduces us to a clear and brave new voice in British fiction. The novel is a clarion call to us all, daring us to stand up to the bullies of our world, in whatever form they may take and ó above all else ó to love our children.


From the Hardcover edition.
  

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Paulagraph - LibraryThing

McGregor's prose is elegant and lyrical. I would award If Nobody Speaks . . . 5 stars except that I am a bit suspicious of the ending. This is a novel of mirror images and parallels: There are three ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - shirleybell - LibraryThing

I really liked this. It took me a while to get used to the writing style, but about a third of the way through I was hooked. It was beautifully written and one that I would love to read again. I loved ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
15
Section 2
30
Section 3
41
Section 4
60
Section 5
69
Section 6
77
Section 7
84
Section 8
95
Section 14
205
Section 15
225
Section 16
241
Section 17
247
Section 18
259
Section 19
271
Section 20
280
Section 21
289

Section 9
138
Section 10
145
Section 11
153
Section 12
167
Section 13
196
Section 22
299
Section 23
312
Section 24
319
Section 25
327
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Sadie Jones was born in London, England, to a Jamaican-born writer and a London-born actress. Jones spent years traveling, working as a waitress and teaching English as a foreign language, before returning to London to work in various filmmaking roles. She then became a screenwriter, a vocation she practised for 15 years, writing for BBC television and feature films. The Outcast, published in 2008, is her first novel. For it she won the Costa First Novel Award and was a finalist for the Orange Prize. Jones is married to the architect Tim Boyd and they have two children.

About her drive to write The Outcast, Jones says, ďIt is often said that everybody has a novel in them. Until I wrote The Outcast ó compelled to write, as I was ó I thought I was an exception this rule. Perhaps I needed a book with enough life to it, that demanded to be written, or perhaps I was simply learning the hard way how to tell stories, I donít know; in many ways itís a mystery to me.Ē


From the Hardcover edition.

Bibliographic information