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The Outcast: A Novel Paperback – April 14, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“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.” (Boston Globe)
“One of the more subtle of the…hot debut novelists…this season” (New York Sun)
“An arresting story” (Washington Post Book World)
“Beautifully delicate...ever more compelling as Jones builds in a palpable sense of suspense.” (Booklist (starred review))
“A superb debut novel…Jones’s prose is fluid, and Lewis’s suffering comes across as achingly real.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
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Top Customer Reviews
We meet Lewis Aldridge at the beginning of the story, he is 19 years old and just out of prison for setting fire to a church. He is hoping for a new chance at life, a new beginning, but things are off to a rocky start with his father, right from the beginning.
The story then reverts back to Lewis' childhood. He is a happy though quiet child who enjoys his mother, Elizabeth's, company. Elizabeth is an outcast of sorts in that she tends to drink too much and is a free spirit. When her husband, Gilbert, returns from the war there is a shift in patterns at the house. They are expected to behave in a certain way and tend to him. It is obvious from the start that Gilbert is cold and distant from his son. When a tragic incident occurs and Lewis has to return home, without his mother, things get worse for Lewis and the strained relationship between father and son continues to deteriorate.
As time continues, Gilbert, the small community and even Lewis' new stepmother all consider him to be damaged. Lewis becomes even more aloof and begins to cut himself.
Kit Carmichael is the young daughter in an influential family. Her dad just happens to be Gilbert's boss as well. Kit has always liked Lewis and she wants to help him. She has her own problems to deal with in her family but she is always in Lewis' corner. Kit is actually somewhat of an outcast herself and does not agree with most of her family's observations.
When Lewis completes his stint in prison and does return home, he and Kit decide to change their situation and break free from their lives as they know it.Read more ›
It's 1957 and 19-year-old Lewis Aldridge has just been released from prison. The crime was setting fire to a church. He heads to his family home simply because he has no where else to go. He's met at the door by his stepmother, Alice, who cheerfully greets him. His father, Gilbert's greeting is different. He demands Lewis drive with him to the church, to see that it has been `fixed.' Lewis is silent. The stage is set; Lewis may have hoped for a new beginning, but already things are not looking good.
We view Lewis' childhood as a flashback. His father recently returned from the war and while Lewis is happy that his father is home, he really doesn't know him. The close relationship Lewis and his mother shared while Gilbert was gone, changes. During a picnic at the river, Elizabeth, Lewis' mother drowns-and suddenly everything changes for Lewis.
Gilbert remarries within a short period of time and neither Gilbert nor Alice, the new wife, can reach the steadily retreating Lewis. The people of the community avoid Lewis, and he continues to withdraw, his anti-social behavior increasing. Two sisters, Tasmin and Kit (daughters of Lewis' boss Dicky Carmichael), are the only people who haven't ostracized Lewis.
But there is a dreadful secret in the Carmichael house, and when Lewis discovers it, he feels powerless to change things. The question is simple: can the damaged Lewis help another damaged soul?
The Outcast will leave you breathless. The characters are rich, full-bodied and well-developed.Read more ›
The setting is the beautiful English countryside in the 1950's. Behind the façade, the local (upper class) community is often less than respectable. Behind the façade, the smiles, the cheers, everyone has a personal demon to deal with. Lewis especially, but certainly not only. After he is released from prison (and before that too), most people distrust and dislike him openly. He does not seem to belong anywhere any longer. Life starts crumbling away and not only his. His family has an essential part in the story, as well as some of his neighbours. Peripheral characters in the background are also extremely fitting, meaning that everything and everyone perfectly conveys the sense of false morality, false rectitude lingering all the time. The question is, will something happen to shake and rattle "things"? You bet it does. A subtle tension is felt all the time and it is an escalation of distraught feelings, delivered by a simple, clear narrative. You FEEL for those who suffer, and wish it would stop. And you keep your fingers crossed for something to go well.
A distressing but extremely engaging novel, my true vote would be 4 ½ stars, well done to the author.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved the way the relationship of the young characters developed and meshed over time.Published 10 months ago by Judy K. Margolies
Reluctance to try to understand a young person's strange behaviour versus blind acceptance of bad behaviour by "respectable" adults.Published 11 months ago by Susan Linden
Not a "beach" read but a wonderfully written book. I would highly recommend it.Published 12 months ago by Regency Lover
An amazing study of the 1950's cultural suppression and WW II vetetans unresolved effects on his wife and sun. Domestic violence and how families keep it a secret. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
To be frank, I picked this book for its cover! It had a couple embracing, not in a bodice ripper kind of way but in a very modest and beautifully photographed way! Read morePublished 22 months ago by Alumine Andrew
I started reading this book while on holiday, which was a good thing because I found it hard to put down from the first page. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Kanchana Bandara
Reminds me of that first scene in Blue Velvet, green grass and lovely suburban homes, zoom in to see the roaches beneathPublished on March 15, 2014 by Clark Salisbury