- Hardcover: 352 pages
- Publisher: Knopf Canada; First Edition edition (March 11 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307396665
- ISBN-13: 978-0307396662
- Product Dimensions: 15 x 2.6 x 22.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 717 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,301,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Outcast Hardcover – Mar 11 2008
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“Set in post-WWII suburban London, this superb debut novel charts the downward spiral and tortured redemption of a young man shattered by loss. . . . Jones’s prose is fluid, and Lewis’s suffering comes across as achingly real.” Publishers Weekly
“A confident, suspenseful and affecting first novel, delivered in cool, precise, distinctive prose.” Kirkus
“[Sadie Jones] writes with shimmering intensity about Lewis’s struggle for redemption. She is particularly strong on atmosphere. . . . Jones uses small, startling phrases to convey depths of passion and information and she can make seemingly innocuous passages radiate beauty.” Sunday Telegraph
“Reads like a thriller, the tension and menace built expertly. . . . The two main characters, Lewis and Kit, are skillfully delineated and this is a powerful, promising first novel.” Financial Times (UK)
“The prose is elegant and spare but the story it reveals is raw and explosive. . . . Devastatingly good.” Daily Mail (UK)
“A wonderfully assured first novel.” The Guardian
“Jones’s elegantly written debut novel brings to vivid life both her alienated and damaged protagonist and the small-minded community that condemns him.” The Times (UK)
“In the tradition of Atonement and Remains Of The Day but in her own singularly arresting voice, Sadie Jones conjures up the straight-laced, church-going, secretly abusive middle class of 1950’s England. The Outcast is a passionate and deeply suspenseful novel about what happens to those who break the rules, and what happens to those who keep them. I loved reading this wonderful debut.” —Margot Livesey
“An assured voice, a riveting story, and an odd, wrenchingly sympathetic protagonist. I would never have imagined this was a first novel.” —Lionel Shriver
"Sadie Jones displays rare skills in her debut novel. The story of a troubled young man in post-WWII suburban London is heartbreaking and wonderful. The book evokes both the best emotions of Catcher in the Rye and the spirit of quiet rebellion of The Razor's Edge, with characters who are well written and real. I love this book." --Brooke Raby, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Lexington
“Sadie Jones’s deliberate pacing and sometimes menacing tone–even if nothing much seems to be happening–provides her tale with its addictive mood. . . . Jones creates such a sense of impending doom that it’s nearly unbearable. . . . Fireworks are inevitable. When at last they come, they relieve the pent-up narrative tension quite gloriously, leaving us cheering our bruised outcast.” –Toronto Star
“Sadie Jones is in total control of the material. . . . With immense compassion, she expertly conveys the flood of relief that comes when a blade cuts through numbness to draw blood and pain. . . . The story is powerful, and the author has big talent.” –NOW (Toronto)
“An amazingly accomplished first novel . . . Jones has produced a taut coming-of-age novel with fresh flair.” –The Edmonton Journal
“An elegant, subtle, haunting novel that stayed with me long after I finished it. Sadie Jones has a long literary future ahead of her.” –Tracy Chevalier, author of Girl with a Pearl Earring
“It’s not often that a debut novel lands with such poise, grace and artistry, yet laced with a simmering, haunting malevolence. . . . The Outcast is a dark, menacing tale of the hidden, abusive nature of the Brit mercantile elite of a half-century ago. It is a taut tale of transgression and hard-won redemption, making Lewis Aldridge an unlikely but strangely likable hero, and by a writer making a muscular debut.” –The Hamilton Spectator
“Mesmerizing. . . . [the] prose is reminiscent of D.H. Lawrence and full of marvellous touches.” –The Vancouver Sun
“Jones recognizes the power of the plain fact of things, and, as do the best practitioners of this style, excels at description when her precision allows implication to flourish in the silences.” –The Globe and Mail
“[W]hat sets this novel apart is the author’s technical skill. Trained as a screenwriter, Jones brings a dramatic arc to every scene, while her restrained prose renders the repression and sublimation at this novel’s core into something combustible.” –Georgia Straight
“With her lush writing and tantalizing sense of setting and detail, Jones has written a novel that stands apart from rote imitation, and The Outcast offers the welcome promise of a literary career of originality and distinction.” –The Boston Globe
“[The Outcast is] consistently interesting. Jones’s portrait of the claustrophobia and conformity of 1950s England is sharp and assured, a convincing illustration of the dangerous consequences of a muzzled society.” The New York Times
About the Author
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, “It is often said that everybody has a novel in them. Until I wrote The Outcast — compelled to write, as I was — 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 don’t know; in many ways it’s a mystery to me.”
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The Outcast, by Sadie Jones
When I opened to the prologue I was instantly drawn to the character. It took a few paragraphs to realise exactly what was happening as he was signed out of prison. And so it went – deep in the character, very well told as the event of the scene unfolded. This is an amazing novel about a young man who lives inside of himself and hardly knows how to come out. Over time we understand why he is locked inside, and how he got there, his efforts to break loose of his own psyche and his failures.
Most importantly, this novel gave me insight to a “class” (for want of a better word) of people who seem intent on self-destructing. The cutters, the suicides, the self-immolators. This novel allows me now to understand. I have to wonder where Sadie Jones herself accumulated all of this deep understanding.
I took away one star because throughout the story I was often momentarily confused by the different points of view of the different characters, often switching back and forth within the same scene. And it was hard for me to keep track of the characters themselves because they did not appear with different ‘voices’: that is, they all sounded alike. A small but vital problem for me.
The Officer's Code (The Schellendorf Series Book 1)
After two years serving in Brixton Prison, Lewis Aldridge never expected to have a happy homecoming when he finally arrives back in the bucolic village of Waterford, situated deep within the Home Counties of England. Even as his step-mother, Alice lovingly prepares his room for him, Lewis assures himself that he's going to make a promise and reassure his father, Gilbert that this time, things will be very different.
Perhaps these seeds of doubt and uncertainty were sown back in 1945 when Lewis led a priviledged and rather isolated existance with his mother Elizabeth, both content to live in a type of emotional and physical vaccum with only each other for company. But when World War 2 grinds to a hault and Gilbert returns, Elizabeth hopes that now that her husband is back they can finally be a proper family and hopefully make a fresh start.
But for Lewis, post-war life with his father seems strangely flat and difficult, the sight of Gilbert constantly unfamiliar and also strangely disturbing. He finds his father's maleness oddly threatening - yes, he is exiting, and there to be adored, but he is also quite foreign and his return changes the fragile balance of the house.
Upon his return and faced with the prospect of finding employment, Gilbert signs on to work for his neighbour, the building magnate Dicky Carmichael, a course and angry man whose presence always seems to set Gilbert's teeth on edge. Although the prospects of making money in the post-war building boom looks positive, Gilbert's only real consolation is that he is grateful for the love of the clever and lovely Elizabeth, her wilful ways and her own way of looking at things, providing the perfect antidote to a life of hard and furious work.
But it is these essential and formative years that seem to be a precurser for what is to some, especially for Lewis. It is also an afternoon picnic in the woods down by the river when everything goes terribly wrong and life for Lewis changes forever, the devastating event unleashing a dormant anger within him. It is here by under the shade fo the weeping willows, the heat of summer almost stifling that Lewis is left to see his mother - her paleness, and then her form becoming merely a dark shadow where her head is, her body under water but not moving.
In the months afterwards, Lewis and Gilbert remain in a type of trategic limbo. Gilbert enters the world of cocktails and London parties, going from one occasion to another, discovering a new type of popularity, and eventually marrying Alice, a dependable but needy blond who seems to do nothing else but feed his ego. Meanwhile, neither father or son go about their lives ever mentioning Elizabeth or the events of that devastating day, the silence around her memory brittle and almost dangerous.
It is here that the plot of The Outcast takes an unusual turn, as author Sadie Jones involves her damaged protagonist ever more in the affairs of the Carmichael's and Dickie Carmichael's impressionable young daughters, Tasmin and Kit who find themselves ever more attracted to their tempestuous neighbour. But it's the connection that Lewis forms Kit that proves to be his ultimate undoing even as Gilbert is forced to shoulder the results of Lewis's truancy, the breaking of a boy's nose, the willful drinking, all of this embarrassment and publicness making him helpessly angry and at a loss to know what to do with his son.
Like a damaged bird, Jones plays out this broken young boy's journey amongst the English rich and priviledged. Lewis's life after Elizabeth is filled with very little love or affection as slowly he shuts emotionally down and is cast off from his family, and labelled as a trouble-maker by Dickie Carmichael, and the wider Waterford community. Throughout this novel, Lewis's voice is deliberately narratively flat, perhaps to reflect Lewis' emotionally closed vacumm, the story circumscribed by his strong capacity for denial - at Elizabeth's untimely death and at his place in the world of the Aldridges.
Indeed, his drinking and self-mutilation seems to insulate him from the complex realities of his family and from the responsibilties of life. Although somewhat cliched and predictable, especially during the final third, nevertheless readers will find this tortured story enticing with a narrative that is always compelling. Jones' reimagining of 50's upper-class British life adds a new dimension to the old standbys of misunderstood young men, ambitious executives, abusive fathers, and brittle but tenacious stepmothers, even as she brings the stulifying hyocracies and strictures of the time to life. Mike Leonard April 2008
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 ' stars, well done to the author.
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