About the Author ~ Sadie Jones
Sadie Jones was born in London. She grew up in a creative environment: her father is the Jamaican poet and screenwriter Evan Jones, and her mother was an actress. As her friends took up their various university places, Sadie worked in a variety of jobs. After travelling, she settled in London and spent several years as a screenwriter, before writing her first novel, The Outcast. Sadie is married and has two children.
Exclusive Amazon.co.uk Interview with Sadie Jones
What is The Outcast about?
The Outcast is about a boy called Lewis - his childhood and adolescence as he grows up in the stultifying world of the home counties in the late forties and fifties. It is an everyday tale of drunkenness, violence and a fair amount of sex, set amongst the well-brought-up professional classes. It is also a love story.
What inspired you to write it?
The idea of a boy coming out of prison and trying to fit into a community that is itself corrupt was the first thing that came to me. I wanted to write an Oedipal story, with iconic characters, about what the nature of what it is to belong, and injustice. I set it in the fifties because I have always been very attracted to the books and films of that time.
Who are your literary influences?
Its difficult to think in terms of being influenced, because when you write you try to find your own voice and forget those of other writers, but I must in some way be a product of books Ive loved. My favourite writers are Hemingway, Capote, Salinger, McEwan and Dostoyevsky.
If you could recommend just one "must-read book" to anyone, what would it be and why?
It would be The Brothers Karamazov, by Dostoyevsky, because it is a book that tells a riveting story and is profoundly insightful about human nature. Dostoyevsky has an undeserved reputation of being sort of turgid, but nothing could be further from the truth of this book. He relishes the events he discloses and has no prissiness he gets in the mud with his characters.
What top tips do you have for anyone looking to write their first book?
Its very hard; I only know what works for me, which is planning, structure and hard work. I have found that whenever I write thinking Ill sort some lingering doubt out later, I generally run into trouble. If you cant answer every single question about your story, then people will be able to tell. Also, try not to get too tied up in whether or not its any good, or what will happen to it when its finished all of that can be paralysing.
Reviews for The Outcast
An assured voice, a riveting story, and an odd, wrenchingly sympathetic protagonist. I would never have imagined this was a first novel. Lionel Shriver
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 1950s 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
I much admired The Outcast. Sadie Jones tells her story using minute details to convey the apparent ordinariness of her characters' lives. But from the choreography of these walking, smiling, drinking people, from their emotional repression and their children's deprivation, she conjures an atmosphere of menace and suspense that erupts into violence and tragedy. It is an impressive debut for this talented new novelist. Michael Holroyd
Sadie Jones is an important new voice. She writes in beautiful prose of terrible events, demonstrating how love denied brings brutal consequences. She conjures the repressive social climate of the 1950s with awful accuracy, and explores the hearts and minds of young people with forensic skill. A great stylist and fine storyteller. Joan Bakewell
One of Radio 4s Book at Bedtime reads for February, Jones story is imbued with brooding atmosphere and drama. Understated and elegantly narrated with attention to period detail, this is a gripping love story with a twist. If you liked Atonement by Ian McEwan, youll love this. Harpers Bazaar (Feb issue)
A wonderfully assured first novel. Guardian
The prose is elegant and spare, but the story it reveals is raw and explosive
Devastatingly good. Daily Mail
The Outcast grips from page one
Jones has captured the stultifying morals and mores of Fifties English middle-class life with satisfying accuracy. Publishing News
Set in post WWII suburban London, this superb debut novel charts the downward spiral and tortured redemption of a young man shattered by loss. The war is over, and Lewis Aldridge is getting used to having his father, Gilbert, back in the house. Things hum along splendidly until Lewiss mother drowns, casting the 10-year-old into deep isolation
Joness prose is fluid, and Lewiss suffering comes across as achingly real. Publishers Weekly
A confident, suspenseful and affecting first novel, delivered in cool, precise, distinctive prose. Kirkus