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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.

Topics: Outcasts, Family, Grief, Coming of Age, Domestic Abuse, Secrets, Psychological, Domestic, London, Debut, Dramatic, 1950s, Realism, Small Town, and England

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061863622
List price: $8.99
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my buddy's mother makes $82 /hr on the internet . She has been fired for 9 months but last month her income was $17946 just working on the internet for a few hours. see it here
>>>­ www.Time-Jobs34.comread more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jaypaw, the apprentice of a medicine cat, is blind, thoughh he a chosen cat of a prophecy. In this book, Jaypaw and his two siblings set out to help a Tribe in the mountains.While at the mountains, the three cats (and the other cats that were chosen in THE NEW PROPHECY; Tawnypelt, Brambleclaw, Crowfeather, and additional Stormfur, and Squirrelflight. Brook is Stormfur's mate, so she also comes along.) thrive to help the Tribe. The tribe cats are starving because some rogues are stealing their pray. They learned by watching the prey-hunters catch their food, and then learned them, and copied them to eat their food. Because of all this commotion, the clan cats have to teach them some fighting moves, and help them take what is theirs. The clan cats teach them how to fight, defend, and mark their borders.After all that training, they are finally able to fend those horrible rogues off, and the clan cats finally head for home.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Not the best one in the series; didn't have a lot going on in the book. It wasn't as interesting as the other books.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Outcast was an AWESOME book!!!!! The "outcastS" are Brook and Stromfur. Find out yourself why! Although this book was great, the battle was not as exciting as I hoped.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I got this book for two reasons:1) I was intrigued by the title.2) It was nominated for the Booker, and I almost always like Booker picks.I read it over the last two days, and I loved it. But I think it's one of those love it or hate it books. I was sort of surprised at how much I loved it because it breaks my Number One Rule requiring standardized punctuation so I don't lose my freakin' mind. There were no (NO) quotation marks in the entire book. And it didn't make me crazy. Not once did I feel like putting the book down and writing a nastygram to the author. That's a big deal for me.So, let me tell you why I loved it. I know I overuse these words but I'm going to do it again. . .it was heartbreaking and beautiful. But not beautiful like any other novel I've read recently. Beautiful because it's much more like a 270 page poem than a novel. As a matter of fact, it reminded me of this quote from Ian McEwan's Saturday: Novels and movies, being restlessly modern, propel you forwards or backwards through time, through days, years or even generations. But to do its noticing and judging, poetry balances itself on the pinprick of the moment. Slowing down, stopping yourself completely, to read and understand a poem is like trying to acquire an old-fashioned skill like dry-stone walling or trout tickling.This one did have some plot, but it was much more about noticing things, seeing what we are normally in too much of a hurry to see. The title actually comes from this quote late in the book: He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. He says there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us. . .and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are. He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?Beautiful book. Just beautiful.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A story that watches neighbours on a street interacting and sometimes seeing actions that are evidence of extraordinary goings on. Intriguing suspense and some quirky characters add to a lyrical tale written with depth and insight. Given the Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and was on the Booker Prize longlist and the Waverton Good Read Award longlist.Highly recommended.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book scores incredibly highly on the modern literature gimmickry checklist. Let's see now......Not a speech mark in the place...CHECKHardly any of the characters named....CHECKHanging paragraphs....hmmm that's innovative....CHECKSpeech reported warts and all so it takes three readings of each sentence to make out what is being said ...CHECKMost of the commas and a good few full-stops left out....CHECKOn that basis it should be a bestseller! The trouble is it's a tough read, made tougher by the fact that the event central to the 'story' is withheld until the very end, stretching the reader's capacity to care about the nameless characters and their formless angst.To give the author his due, he can write very good poetic prose, and dreams up some interesting scenarios. The trouble is, it's all a bit Turner Prize. As though someone painted a brilliant picture, but instead of just framing it and letting people enjoy it, he scribbled all over it so it was impossible to see what was originally there.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting and well written book about an individual who is narrating her story over the past few months, and details of an incident which changed her life written from the perspective of the people who lived on one street during that one day. Difficult to put into words, but a good read all the same.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A beautiful book. It reads more like poetry than a novel at times. The opening description of a street in an English town is wonderful. Most characters aren't named, and are just referred to by where they live or by a distinguishing feature, which makes it a little difficult at first to grasp who is who, but it is so beautifully written and the sentiments in it so true, that this ceased to matter soon.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I didn't really take to this book at all. I suppose I'm opposed to the thesis. The mundane by definition can't be remarkable. In reality beauty is in our relationship to the mundane; our ability to see beyond it to a deeper meaning. The book keeps you waiting to reveal the nature of a terrible incident whilst relating the actions of characters living in one urban street. Yet surely why we do things is the great mystery; to investigate what we do is like exploring the workings of a toaster to find its soul. Many people really like this book, I guess I'm just not one of them.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This novel is a collection of successes and failures, from achievements both sentence by sentence and in a larger, conceptual sense, to shortcomings on similar levels. It requires an initial push and patience, and a tolerance for sometimes cheap-seeming suspense tactics, but the pay-off is good. In short, and without spoiling anything, the book begins (after it gets done with a several page description that isn't quite all it might be) by saying, "Oh, this extraordinary thing has happened," and we sense it's a terrible thing, and because it's extraordinary and because of its impact, yes, we absolutely want to know what it is. One can't (and can) quite imagine what on Earth could have happened. (And then, of course, one has a vague idea.) Beginning this way, however, seems to put too much pressure on that final Thing: the mystery business, which emerges elsewhere in the revelation and withholding of other crucial bits of information (in addition to the big one spanning the entire novel), is both a testament to the author's sustained control, but as well something that can get rather tiresome. It's almost as though Jon McGregor didn't trust us enough to read this novel through without something tugging us the whole way. Once you give up your frustrations, though, (why is he insisting on being so dubious?!) and allow yourself to concentrate more on the scenes that can be rather beautiful, the book falls into a kind of loveliness. There are wonderful lines and wonderful scenes both touching and frightening, and when the narrative settles down and delivers, it is almost always very satisfying and fresh.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A haunting read with depth and wisdom. Felt compelled more by the hopeful uncovering of the mystery than by the desire to read on, but satisfying and complete.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Poetic, carefully observed and well-constructed study of ordinary life. Progresses gently to an inevitable climax. Contemplative.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
not my usual kind of read but I found this suprisingly enjoyable.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
One of my reading resolutions this year was to review every book that I read… this has been fun, rewarding, made me think about and find merit in each book I disliked, fully explore the reasons for loving the ones that astonished me. Once in a while, I’ve found that I’ve closed a book thinking ‘no review I can write can possibly explain what is so wonderful about this book’, and truly struggled to articulate the things that made it sing to me, as one of the children in this book fails to tell his mother about the moment of a skateboard turning in an arc under an older boy’s feet, flashing it’s illustrated under-side, before landing neatly and rolling on.But the character with the scarred hands, who says to his daughter if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable? has the perfect argument for attempting to do this book some sort of justice. The author has provoked the reader with detailed observation of an unwinding morning, by shining light on the ordinary until it glows, building suspense out of un-punctuated conversation, character out of straying cricket-balls and sketch pads, and sadness out of absent characters. I might not have his writing chops, but I can try and say that this book is special, that the writing is beautiful, even poetic but also hard-working, that nothing is wasted and everything is, indeed, remarkable.A street, in summer, slowly awakens and unfolds. A catastrophe awaits the residents, as they go about their day, the details and moments of their lives are examined as they move towards it, as the author tempts the reader with shadowy possibilities, and distracts us with the perfectly ordinary, by turns. The present-day narrator, caught up in the stir of her newly discovered pregnancy, remembers back to it, to the boy from number eighteen, to whom she is now connected through his brother, who took off, running, as though he knew exactly what to do.McGregor tackles this story more like an artist creating an image by filling in the negative space, than a conventional novelist. He tells us everything we do not need to know, revisiting groups and houses, over and over, until we realise that these people, these moments, are the story, no more or less than the moment that the book is building towards. There’s a hint of Something Happened by Joseph Heller in the structure, except that I don’t remember that book making me hold my breath over a telephone conversation, or a clay figure, or a couple stealing a moment to have sex as the house empties of its extended family.I had the suspicion from time to time that we wouldn’t be let in on the lynch-pin event, but McGregor is not cheap, and, anyway, one important message here is pay attention to everything that happens. He doesn't stop, and the implacable beauty with which he continues to describe the day is both jarring and appropriate at the same time. He is, however, clever enough to leave one vital question unanswered, that ‘what happens next?’ that every good book leaves instils in every invested reader.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I finished this book today and sat quietly for a while reflecting on its beauty. It was the kind of book that touches you in a way that's hard to put into words. The 'event' was expected yet a surprise, and the last few pages had me on an emotional roller-coaster. I absolutely loved this book and its style, although a little strange to me at first, soon became a way of devouring the wonderful words even quicker! I can understand people not taking to it, and I wonder if I myself may have picked up the book at a different time in my life and dismissed it as being too quirky for me; I'm so glad I picked it up at the precise moment I did; I would have missed out on a true gem.read more
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This is one of my best reads of the year. In some ways it remeinded me of Hitchcock's Rear Window, the way the narrative panned , like a camera, into the life of the street and the homes on the street. The style is different but not off-puttingly so. The lack of speech marks was not a distraction and made for a pacy read. Someone on this site thought it was slow - no way slow, sorry! The prose is superb and evocative. I couldn't put it down.read more
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"... , if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?" Indeed - and what a remarkable book! Highly recommended reading.read more
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A truly wonderful book which had me intrigued from beginning to end. One I always recommend when asked.read more
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One of my favourite books, completely loved it and I like the way it's been written. I've recommended it to a few people and they've struggled to get into it, but I didn't find that at all.read more
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A lyrical dance through the characters inhabiting a suburban close. There is the perfect sketch of an old and loving couple, and troubled youth, and young love. The dance whirls round and round, picking up pace, repeating themes until the brilliant crescendo. Persevere, it's good - despite the strange punctuation.read more
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This book is interesting as it makes you realise everybody has so many miles of history behind them, that the way they behave isn't an abstract concept and is attached to experiences from the past that shapes the way they behave today. It makes want to have patience with others, and not judge. And shows how a person can spiral downwards when they are misunderstood. Also, I remember sobbing at the end of this.read more
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A very quick read and good character study about a boy who loses his mother and is treated very poorly after (different parenting beliefs in the 40's/50's and old school society etiquette) Lewis hates himself for many reasons and struggles with depression, self mutilation and eventually winds up in jail for arson. He fights and fights against his father and society but in the end, we hope, finds a way out. I liked this book, good clear prose.read more
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A peek into a working class neighborhood on the day a tragic event occurs. A rather strange story that keeps the reader a bit of an outsider looking in. Not my favorite book, but one that is so well written it is hard not to recommend it.read more
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Did you ever want to grab a character from the pages of a book and hug him? I dare you not to want to embrace Lewis and tell him he's loved. The characters within this debut novel are so three dimensional that you feel for them, know them, and want to sit them down and straighten them out. A book I couldn't put down, but wanted to slowly read to enjoy every word. One of the best books I've picked up in a while. A wonderful book.read more
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This novel definitely falls in the category of Suburban Secrets Stripped Bare! Interesting story but overall the writing was weak and uneven. Specifically found her shifting of POV ineffective and, at times, downright clumsy. It seemed somehow rushed. It was pretty ambitious (ala McCarthy, Ishiguro, McEwan), so I stuck with it. But by the end the characters had become flat and colorless.

This is a first novel, so I may check her out later down the road.read more
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The outcast of the title is a young man who returns home to his small, smug English village after serving two years in prison for arson. Poor Lewis Aldridge watches his mother drown when he is 10, and then lives under his father's silent blame and near-hatred. As he enters his teens, he starts cutting himself, drinking, and acting out violently. Nothing much changes when he is released from prison, and his only solace comes from his relationship with two girls next door, one of whom is routinely abused by her father.Nice, right? This book was very readable, but so dark and depressing that even I started disliking it, and I usually love dark and depressing. The somewhat hopeful ending redeemed it a little, so I won't say I disliked the book in its entirety. One of the blurbs evoked Atonement. It's an easy comparison because of the setting, but while Atonement is complex and breathtakingly realistic in depicting the psychology of its characters, The Outcast is a little too pat and by-the-numbers. Still, a bleakly interesting read.read more
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The Outcast is a riveting story taking place in 1950's England. A mother dies and her son struggles with his grief and guilt. This is an amazing first novel from Ms Jones I look forward to more from this gifted young novelist.read more
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Compelling read. Well-drawn characters. Setting is 1950's England where "appearances" are most important. Theme is really "broken" or "wrecked" people. There' s alcoholism, child abuse, wife battering, religious hypocracy - all good family values."It looked like everybody was in a broken, bad world that fitted them just right".In the end all of the characters are doomed to this "broken, bad world" except Lewis and Kit who may have found a way out.read more
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When The Outcast opens it’s 1957 and 19 year old Lewis Aldridge has just been released from two years in prison. He is returning home, the outskirts of London, to his father and stepmother, neither of whom wants him. The rest of the book is the haunting story of Lewis’ life, before and after this point, as the author weaves the story by moving back and forth in time, developing a narrative with tension and suspense that had me holding my breath and furiously turning pages.Lewis’ story is one of repression and loneliness. As a ten-year-old, he watches helplessly as his mother drowns in a river close to their home and without her to anchor him, he is lost. His father, Gilbert, marries a much younger woman, only a few short months later. Lewis struggles to fit in and control his anger, but he is a child in need of extensive counseling, and none is offered him.In the meantime, his father’s influential boss, Dicky Carmichael, is revealed as an abusive bully who is systematically beating his younger daughter, Kit. Lewis and Kit are unwitting partners in trying to escape their individual nightmare existences. And Lewis’ stepmother, Alice, has turned into a public drunk who is making sexual advances on him. It’s hard for a guy to keep his head up under these circumstances. Lewis does try, but the cards are stacked against him. My heart went out to him. Sadie Jones paints such a sympathetic character, flaws and all that I found myself wanting desperately for him to succeed. In the end, we’re left with hope, Lewis is left with hope. He has a future that could never have been predicted early on in the narrative. Sadie Jones produced a knock-out debut novel. Her spare prose, told with unnerving realism make for a riveting read that reveals the strait-laced life of the fifties wasn’t all it appeared to be. Very highly recommended.read more
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my buddy's mother makes $82 /hr on the internet . She has been fired for 9 months but last month her income was $17946 just working on the internet for a few hours. see it here
>>>­ www.Time-Jobs34.com
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Jaypaw, the apprentice of a medicine cat, is blind, thoughh he a chosen cat of a prophecy. In this book, Jaypaw and his two siblings set out to help a Tribe in the mountains.While at the mountains, the three cats (and the other cats that were chosen in THE NEW PROPHECY; Tawnypelt, Brambleclaw, Crowfeather, and additional Stormfur, and Squirrelflight. Brook is Stormfur's mate, so she also comes along.) thrive to help the Tribe. The tribe cats are starving because some rogues are stealing their pray. They learned by watching the prey-hunters catch their food, and then learned them, and copied them to eat their food. Because of all this commotion, the clan cats have to teach them some fighting moves, and help them take what is theirs. The clan cats teach them how to fight, defend, and mark their borders.After all that training, they are finally able to fend those horrible rogues off, and the clan cats finally head for home.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Not the best one in the series; didn't have a lot going on in the book. It wasn't as interesting as the other books.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Outcast was an AWESOME book!!!!! The "outcastS" are Brook and Stromfur. Find out yourself why! Although this book was great, the battle was not as exciting as I hoped.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I got this book for two reasons:1) I was intrigued by the title.2) It was nominated for the Booker, and I almost always like Booker picks.I read it over the last two days, and I loved it. But I think it's one of those love it or hate it books. I was sort of surprised at how much I loved it because it breaks my Number One Rule requiring standardized punctuation so I don't lose my freakin' mind. There were no (NO) quotation marks in the entire book. And it didn't make me crazy. Not once did I feel like putting the book down and writing a nastygram to the author. That's a big deal for me.So, let me tell you why I loved it. I know I overuse these words but I'm going to do it again. . .it was heartbreaking and beautiful. But not beautiful like any other novel I've read recently. Beautiful because it's much more like a 270 page poem than a novel. As a matter of fact, it reminded me of this quote from Ian McEwan's Saturday: Novels and movies, being restlessly modern, propel you forwards or backwards through time, through days, years or even generations. But to do its noticing and judging, poetry balances itself on the pinprick of the moment. Slowing down, stopping yourself completely, to read and understand a poem is like trying to acquire an old-fashioned skill like dry-stone walling or trout tickling.This one did have some plot, but it was much more about noticing things, seeing what we are normally in too much of a hurry to see. The title actually comes from this quote late in the book: He says this is a very big world and there are many many things you could miss if you are not careful. He says there are remarkable things all the time, right in front of us. . .and our lives are paler and poorer if we do not see them for what they are. He says, if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?Beautiful book. Just beautiful.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A story that watches neighbours on a street interacting and sometimes seeing actions that are evidence of extraordinary goings on. Intriguing suspense and some quirky characters add to a lyrical tale written with depth and insight. Given the Betty Trask Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and was on the Booker Prize longlist and the Waverton Good Read Award longlist.Highly recommended.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This book scores incredibly highly on the modern literature gimmickry checklist. Let's see now......Not a speech mark in the place...CHECKHardly any of the characters named....CHECKHanging paragraphs....hmmm that's innovative....CHECKSpeech reported warts and all so it takes three readings of each sentence to make out what is being said ...CHECKMost of the commas and a good few full-stops left out....CHECKOn that basis it should be a bestseller! The trouble is it's a tough read, made tougher by the fact that the event central to the 'story' is withheld until the very end, stretching the reader's capacity to care about the nameless characters and their formless angst.To give the author his due, he can write very good poetic prose, and dreams up some interesting scenarios. The trouble is, it's all a bit Turner Prize. As though someone painted a brilliant picture, but instead of just framing it and letting people enjoy it, he scribbled all over it so it was impossible to see what was originally there.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Interesting and well written book about an individual who is narrating her story over the past few months, and details of an incident which changed her life written from the perspective of the people who lived on one street during that one day. Difficult to put into words, but a good read all the same.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A beautiful book. It reads more like poetry than a novel at times. The opening description of a street in an English town is wonderful. Most characters aren't named, and are just referred to by where they live or by a distinguishing feature, which makes it a little difficult at first to grasp who is who, but it is so beautifully written and the sentiments in it so true, that this ceased to matter soon.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I didn't really take to this book at all. I suppose I'm opposed to the thesis. The mundane by definition can't be remarkable. In reality beauty is in our relationship to the mundane; our ability to see beyond it to a deeper meaning. The book keeps you waiting to reveal the nature of a terrible incident whilst relating the actions of characters living in one urban street. Yet surely why we do things is the great mystery; to investigate what we do is like exploring the workings of a toaster to find its soul. Many people really like this book, I guess I'm just not one of them.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This novel is a collection of successes and failures, from achievements both sentence by sentence and in a larger, conceptual sense, to shortcomings on similar levels. It requires an initial push and patience, and a tolerance for sometimes cheap-seeming suspense tactics, but the pay-off is good. In short, and without spoiling anything, the book begins (after it gets done with a several page description that isn't quite all it might be) by saying, "Oh, this extraordinary thing has happened," and we sense it's a terrible thing, and because it's extraordinary and because of its impact, yes, we absolutely want to know what it is. One can't (and can) quite imagine what on Earth could have happened. (And then, of course, one has a vague idea.) Beginning this way, however, seems to put too much pressure on that final Thing: the mystery business, which emerges elsewhere in the revelation and withholding of other crucial bits of information (in addition to the big one spanning the entire novel), is both a testament to the author's sustained control, but as well something that can get rather tiresome. It's almost as though Jon McGregor didn't trust us enough to read this novel through without something tugging us the whole way. Once you give up your frustrations, though, (why is he insisting on being so dubious?!) and allow yourself to concentrate more on the scenes that can be rather beautiful, the book falls into a kind of loveliness. There are wonderful lines and wonderful scenes both touching and frightening, and when the narrative settles down and delivers, it is almost always very satisfying and fresh.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A haunting read with depth and wisdom. Felt compelled more by the hopeful uncovering of the mystery than by the desire to read on, but satisfying and complete.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Poetic, carefully observed and well-constructed study of ordinary life. Progresses gently to an inevitable climax. Contemplative.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
not my usual kind of read but I found this suprisingly enjoyable.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
One of my reading resolutions this year was to review every book that I read… this has been fun, rewarding, made me think about and find merit in each book I disliked, fully explore the reasons for loving the ones that astonished me. Once in a while, I’ve found that I’ve closed a book thinking ‘no review I can write can possibly explain what is so wonderful about this book’, and truly struggled to articulate the things that made it sing to me, as one of the children in this book fails to tell his mother about the moment of a skateboard turning in an arc under an older boy’s feet, flashing it’s illustrated under-side, before landing neatly and rolling on.But the character with the scarred hands, who says to his daughter if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable? has the perfect argument for attempting to do this book some sort of justice. The author has provoked the reader with detailed observation of an unwinding morning, by shining light on the ordinary until it glows, building suspense out of un-punctuated conversation, character out of straying cricket-balls and sketch pads, and sadness out of absent characters. I might not have his writing chops, but I can try and say that this book is special, that the writing is beautiful, even poetic but also hard-working, that nothing is wasted and everything is, indeed, remarkable.A street, in summer, slowly awakens and unfolds. A catastrophe awaits the residents, as they go about their day, the details and moments of their lives are examined as they move towards it, as the author tempts the reader with shadowy possibilities, and distracts us with the perfectly ordinary, by turns. The present-day narrator, caught up in the stir of her newly discovered pregnancy, remembers back to it, to the boy from number eighteen, to whom she is now connected through his brother, who took off, running, as though he knew exactly what to do.McGregor tackles this story more like an artist creating an image by filling in the negative space, than a conventional novelist. He tells us everything we do not need to know, revisiting groups and houses, over and over, until we realise that these people, these moments, are the story, no more or less than the moment that the book is building towards. There’s a hint of Something Happened by Joseph Heller in the structure, except that I don’t remember that book making me hold my breath over a telephone conversation, or a clay figure, or a couple stealing a moment to have sex as the house empties of its extended family.I had the suspicion from time to time that we wouldn’t be let in on the lynch-pin event, but McGregor is not cheap, and, anyway, one important message here is pay attention to everything that happens. He doesn't stop, and the implacable beauty with which he continues to describe the day is both jarring and appropriate at the same time. He is, however, clever enough to leave one vital question unanswered, that ‘what happens next?’ that every good book leaves instils in every invested reader.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I finished this book today and sat quietly for a while reflecting on its beauty. It was the kind of book that touches you in a way that's hard to put into words. The 'event' was expected yet a surprise, and the last few pages had me on an emotional roller-coaster. I absolutely loved this book and its style, although a little strange to me at first, soon became a way of devouring the wonderful words even quicker! I can understand people not taking to it, and I wonder if I myself may have picked up the book at a different time in my life and dismissed it as being too quirky for me; I'm so glad I picked it up at the precise moment I did; I would have missed out on a true gem.
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This is one of my best reads of the year. In some ways it remeinded me of Hitchcock's Rear Window, the way the narrative panned , like a camera, into the life of the street and the homes on the street. The style is different but not off-puttingly so. The lack of speech marks was not a distraction and made for a pacy read. Someone on this site thought it was slow - no way slow, sorry! The prose is superb and evocative. I couldn't put it down.
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"... , if nobody speaks of remarkable things, how can they be called remarkable?" Indeed - and what a remarkable book! Highly recommended reading.
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A truly wonderful book which had me intrigued from beginning to end. One I always recommend when asked.
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One of my favourite books, completely loved it and I like the way it's been written. I've recommended it to a few people and they've struggled to get into it, but I didn't find that at all.
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A lyrical dance through the characters inhabiting a suburban close. There is the perfect sketch of an old and loving couple, and troubled youth, and young love. The dance whirls round and round, picking up pace, repeating themes until the brilliant crescendo. Persevere, it's good - despite the strange punctuation.
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This book is interesting as it makes you realise everybody has so many miles of history behind them, that the way they behave isn't an abstract concept and is attached to experiences from the past that shapes the way they behave today. It makes want to have patience with others, and not judge. And shows how a person can spiral downwards when they are misunderstood. Also, I remember sobbing at the end of this.
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A very quick read and good character study about a boy who loses his mother and is treated very poorly after (different parenting beliefs in the 40's/50's and old school society etiquette) Lewis hates himself for many reasons and struggles with depression, self mutilation and eventually winds up in jail for arson. He fights and fights against his father and society but in the end, we hope, finds a way out. I liked this book, good clear prose.
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A peek into a working class neighborhood on the day a tragic event occurs. A rather strange story that keeps the reader a bit of an outsider looking in. Not my favorite book, but one that is so well written it is hard not to recommend it.
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Did you ever want to grab a character from the pages of a book and hug him? I dare you not to want to embrace Lewis and tell him he's loved. The characters within this debut novel are so three dimensional that you feel for them, know them, and want to sit them down and straighten them out. A book I couldn't put down, but wanted to slowly read to enjoy every word. One of the best books I've picked up in a while. A wonderful book.
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This novel definitely falls in the category of Suburban Secrets Stripped Bare! Interesting story but overall the writing was weak and uneven. Specifically found her shifting of POV ineffective and, at times, downright clumsy. It seemed somehow rushed. It was pretty ambitious (ala McCarthy, Ishiguro, McEwan), so I stuck with it. But by the end the characters had become flat and colorless.

This is a first novel, so I may check her out later down the road.
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The outcast of the title is a young man who returns home to his small, smug English village after serving two years in prison for arson. Poor Lewis Aldridge watches his mother drown when he is 10, and then lives under his father's silent blame and near-hatred. As he enters his teens, he starts cutting himself, drinking, and acting out violently. Nothing much changes when he is released from prison, and his only solace comes from his relationship with two girls next door, one of whom is routinely abused by her father.Nice, right? This book was very readable, but so dark and depressing that even I started disliking it, and I usually love dark and depressing. The somewhat hopeful ending redeemed it a little, so I won't say I disliked the book in its entirety. One of the blurbs evoked Atonement. It's an easy comparison because of the setting, but while Atonement is complex and breathtakingly realistic in depicting the psychology of its characters, The Outcast is a little too pat and by-the-numbers. Still, a bleakly interesting read.
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The Outcast is a riveting story taking place in 1950's England. A mother dies and her son struggles with his grief and guilt. This is an amazing first novel from Ms Jones I look forward to more from this gifted young novelist.
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Compelling read. Well-drawn characters. Setting is 1950's England where "appearances" are most important. Theme is really "broken" or "wrecked" people. There' s alcoholism, child abuse, wife battering, religious hypocracy - all good family values."It looked like everybody was in a broken, bad world that fitted them just right".In the end all of the characters are doomed to this "broken, bad world" except Lewis and Kit who may have found a way out.
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When The Outcast opens it’s 1957 and 19 year old Lewis Aldridge has just been released from two years in prison. He is returning home, the outskirts of London, to his father and stepmother, neither of whom wants him. The rest of the book is the haunting story of Lewis’ life, before and after this point, as the author weaves the story by moving back and forth in time, developing a narrative with tension and suspense that had me holding my breath and furiously turning pages.Lewis’ story is one of repression and loneliness. As a ten-year-old, he watches helplessly as his mother drowns in a river close to their home and without her to anchor him, he is lost. His father, Gilbert, marries a much younger woman, only a few short months later. Lewis struggles to fit in and control his anger, but he is a child in need of extensive counseling, and none is offered him.In the meantime, his father’s influential boss, Dicky Carmichael, is revealed as an abusive bully who is systematically beating his younger daughter, Kit. Lewis and Kit are unwitting partners in trying to escape their individual nightmare existences. And Lewis’ stepmother, Alice, has turned into a public drunk who is making sexual advances on him. It’s hard for a guy to keep his head up under these circumstances. Lewis does try, but the cards are stacked against him. My heart went out to him. Sadie Jones paints such a sympathetic character, flaws and all that I found myself wanting desperately for him to succeed. In the end, we’re left with hope, Lewis is left with hope. He has a future that could never have been predicted early on in the narrative. Sadie Jones produced a knock-out debut novel. Her spare prose, told with unnerving realism make for a riveting read that reveals the strait-laced life of the fifties wasn’t all it appeared to be. Very highly recommended.
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