Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Set in post WWII suburban London, this superb debut novel charts the downward spiral and tortured redemption of a young man shattered by loss. The war is over, and Lewis Aldridge is getting used to having his father, Gilbert, back in the house. Things hum along splendidly until Lewis's mother drowns, casting the 10-year-old into deep isolation. Lewis is ignored by grief-stricken Gilbert, who remarries a year after the death, and Lewis's sadness festers during his adolescence until he boils over and torches a church. After serving two years in prison, Lewis returns home seeking redemption and forgiveness, only to find himself ostracized. The town's most prominent family, the Carmichaels, poses particular danger: terrifying, abusive patriarch Dicky (who is also Gilbert's boss) wants to humiliate him; beautiful 21-year-old Tamsin possesses an insidious coquettishness; and patient, innocent Kit not quite 16 years old confounds him with her youthful affection. Mutual distrust between Lewis and the locals grows, but Kit may be able to save Lewis. Jones's prose is fluid, and Lewis's suffering comes across as achingly real." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Beautifully delicate....The teen's struggle for redemption becomes ever more compelling as Jones builds in a palpable sense of suspense." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Riveting....The tension in The Outcast is palpable and sensuous, beating loudly beneath the tranquil surface of Jones's calm prose." O magazine
"A confident, suspenseful and affecting first novel, delivered in cool, precise, distinctive prose." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"It's an arresting story, but The Outcast
has plenty of problems....[T]he novel's tone is unremittingly lugubrious, lacking even a hint of humor, much less comic relief...." Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World
(read the entire Washington Post review
In this brilliant debut, 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, The Outcast is an emotionally powerful testament to the powers of love and understanding.
About the Author
Sadie Jones is the author of the novels The Outcast, winner of the Costa First Novel Award in the United Kingdom and a finalist for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction; and Small Wars, a tale of love, war, and honor, which was published to critical praise on both sides of the Atlantic. The Uninvited Guests is her third novel. Sadie Jones lives in London.