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Always the Sun Paperback – 7 Feb 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; New edition edition (7 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743231406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743231404
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,401,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'This is a harrowing book about aggression, fear, the painful strength of parental love and the agony of being unable to shield your child from hurt. Brilliantly and sympathetically written, it will strike cold fear into the heart of every parent' DAILY MAIL 'The stripped-down prose of Neil Cross is at once masterly, authoritative and tender throughout this superb and difficult novel. Outstanding' BIG ISSUE 'Set to be his most successful yet...harrowing but gripping' TIME OUT 'A gripping journey to the limits of paternal emotions' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'The stripped-down prose of Neil Cross is at once masterly, authoritative and tender throughout this superb and difficult novel. Outstanding.' BIG ISSUE **** 'The novel is reminiscent of Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. But rather than sexual inadequacy, it is feelings of parental inadequacy, compounded by grief, isolation and the loneliness which must be felt by every parent whose only child has just become an uncommunicative teenager, which provoke an intelligent man to commit senseless violence' Independent on Sunday 1/2 'Gripping, even in the last 50 pages, where what starts out as a recognizable, everyday situation finally goes over the top...Cross relies on a simple, straightforward prose...' GUARDIAN 21/2 'Tackling the thorny issue of child abuse - by other children - is a stylistically brave move. It's testament to Cross' undeniable talent that it's been done so tastefully' BIG ISSUE 7/2 "Cross's grimly readable novel settles into a parent's nightmares and ties apprehensive knots in the reader's stomach" Guardian 20/2 'Cross persuasively depicts the subtle drama of family life and gently builds up three-dimensional characters' Observer 27/3

About the Author

Neil Cross is the author of CHRISTENDOM, MR IN-BETWEEN, HOLLOWAY FALLS and ALWAYS THE SUN. He lives with his wife and two children.

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Sam steered the dirty-white hire van to the nearside kerb and killed the engine. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By coronaurora on 15 Oct 2004
Format: Paperback
Like always I just went by my sixth sense and picked up this book after being genuinely intrigued by its theme-- bullying. The book sure is unusual. And it does take a long time for the plot to sink in-- especially the gory climax.
Its predominant flavour remains a father's struggle to live up to his son's expectations (and boy, this flawed, self-critical, fragile character of Sam who tries so damn hard to be a man for his son does grow on you) until the last 5 pages jolt you out of your wits. And it gives an absolutely new hue to the whole book-- it's really about how important communication is, between parents and their kids. How utterly secretive, reclusive and puzzling kids can be and how important it is to sit with them, talk to them, play with them-- the book made me realise how difficult and frustrating parenting can be. Here there is this father recovering from his wife's loss unable to decipher his son's ambivalent attitude and goes out of his way to meet his son's needs (pay off his son's bully, get a gangster to bump off the bully's dad, buy a Chrysler, a new house) when all his son required was counsel.
Cross's sense of place and time is commendable. And so is his commentary. Granted, at times the descriptions do get a tad useless and banal (especially in the first 50 pages), but the book does have a real atmosphere reeking of the modern day Britain towns. This and the self-deprecating tone of the narrator makes for a really compulsive read. The fact that Jamie (Sam's son) is as difficult to probe into for the reader as for Sam goes a long way in one empathising with Sam when tragedy strikes in the finale. Even otherwise, the characters are tastefully drawn and written in honest, lively prose.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nick on 27 Jan 2004
Format: Paperback
A totally gripping novel whose characters draw you in instantly, single widowed father Sam moves back to his home town from London with his young son following the death of his wife. The narrative takes you through the trials that Sam and Jamie face adjusting to their new circumstances and is particularly moving in dealing with Sam’s feelings of helplessness as Jamie arrives as the new boy at a new school and gradually a pattern of bullying emerges which both characters are powerless to confront, unable to communicate with one another through both the normal parent and child barriers and their grief.
Resolving to intervene Sam puts a series of events in motion to confront those responsible and it’s here that Always the Sun really takes of and examines both deep parental love and moral choices. In the final quarter Cross twists the narrative effortlessly and having reconciled myself with an expected ending the rug was superbly pulled from under me leaving me with a whole different set of feelings to wrestle with to the ones I anticipated, superb.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Edain VINE VOICE on 17 Mar 2004
Format: Paperback
The other reviews point out Sam's actions are not only over the top and melodramatic, but that he fails to even take basic steps to ask his son about the bullying that centres the novel.
That's the point.
Overwhelmed with protectiveness, he sets out on his one man crusade to protect his son from pictures in his head. He doesn't ask Jamie if he's being bullied. He doesn't bother to find out what Jamie's problems are. Sam's actions are selfish and self-indulgent. He's proving he's a good father before actually being one.
I condemned the book as poor melodrama - wonderfully written but unrealistic. And then the ending stopped my breath. And it all made sense.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deanne Dixon on 23 April 2007
Format: Paperback
Ok, so admittedly a week ago, I hadn't even heard of "Always the Sun", or Neil Cross for that matter. It wasn't until a friend of mine came into work, sat three feet away from me, and ignored me for the best part of an interrupted half hour whilst she read the last handful of pages, that it caught my eye. When my friend had the decency to actually look up and acknowledge my presence, it was with a horrified look on her face, exclaiming "I didn't see that coming" - and promptly went on to read it again! Eventually, after spending the rest of the shift talking about the book, I gave into the inevitable: handing a battered copy of Iain Banks' "The Wasp Factory" across the table, I asked "Wanna swap?".

Briefly, (and shamelessly quoted from the blurb), "Jamie is thirteen years old, an only child. His mother has recently died. He and his father, Sam, have moved to Sam's home town. A fresh new start. A new job for Sam, a new school for Jamie. But one day, Jamie comes home bearing the scars of every parent's nightmare, something must be done. So it begins".

Rarely do I criticise other reviewers in my writing, but I will make an exception here. Many of those who have come before me have criticised this book, either because the ending seemingly came out of the blue, the issue of bullying wasn't addressed or the book was too simply written - these reviewer's don't really have a point - they have, quite simply, missed the point. There is one underlying theme that is the mere foundation of the story - and, should you keep this in mind, the whole book makes sense: this theme is "communication", or rather, lack of it.
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