Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Popular Fiction Award, 2009.
Winner of the Costa First Novel Award, 2008.
A Richard and Judy Summer Read Selection.
It's 1957 and Lewis Aldridge is travelling back to his home in the South of England. He is straight out of jail and 19 years old. His return will trigger the implosion not just of his family, but of a whole community.
A decade earlier, his father's homecoming casts a different shape. The war is over, and Gilbert has recently been demobbed. 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 has been 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 predict the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open.
As menacing as it is beautiful, The Outcast is a devastating portrait of small-town hypocrisy from an astonishing new voice.
The Outcast has been selected as Richards and Judy's first book for their summer reading promotion.
"[A] superb debut novel....Jones's prose is fluid, and Lewis's suffering comes across as achingly real." (
Publishers Weekly) "The gentleness of Dan Steven's voice and his finely judged hesitations reveal all Lewis's vulnerabilities, and make the flaws of this quite awful social circle convincing and human." (
Observer) "Sadie Jones's debut novel Outcast is enthralling listening. It is set in the 1950s, an age we are only now beginning to see objectively, when girls wore short white gloves with their summer dresses but could still have their heads and hearts turned by male animal magnetism; when boys were mystified by the taciturnity of fathers (still called sir) who had lived through the horrors of war, and by mothers who turned to the bottle or to manic domesticity for compensatory comfort. Jones (below) engineers her thrill-a-minute plot with a sure hand. Dan Stevens, the narrator, gets the voices of the 1950s absolutely right, as convincing as Lewis's bottled-up-father as he is as Kit's vampish older sister." (Christina Hardyment,
The Times ) "Dan Stevens is the perfect reader for this remarkably original, accomplished and compelling book. The ground-bass of his voice is steady, low and tense, yet when the text requires it he is as capable of light flirtatiousness as of furious rage." (
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