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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, but draws you in!
Lewis arrives back from prison in 1957 now at the age of 19 and of course that has me wondering what he went to prison for. Time then reverts back to a much younger Lewis and follows his childhood tales which include an extremely traumatic event, which changes Lewis to a quiet, withdrawn little boy that it appears nobody really understands.

The book moves...
Published on 3 Nov 2008 by loopyloo100

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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars extremely well written but thoroughly depressing
I am amazed that Richard & Judy chose this novel for their Summer Read collection. It is certainly not a book to read while relaxing by the pool. I enjoyed the reading of this as the style of writing is so pristine and fresh. It is also didactic and reveals the narrow minded prejudices of the not so distant past in a very powerful and clever way. It reminded me of...
Published on 6 July 2008 by love reading


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89 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, but draws you in!, 3 Nov 2008
This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
Lewis arrives back from prison in 1957 now at the age of 19 and of course that has me wondering what he went to prison for. Time then reverts back to a much younger Lewis and follows his childhood tales which include an extremely traumatic event, which changes Lewis to a quiet, withdrawn little boy that it appears nobody really understands.

The book moves forward in time and we find out why Lewis was in prison. Lewis appears lost with himself and with the opposite sex, but is drawn to differing girls/women that may be able to fill a small part of his needs. Lewis' family and their neighbours are very much central to the story and they all seem to carry so many demons within them. Kit is a neighbouring young girl that has always been drawn to Lewis and she feels she understands him the most, but he tends to cast her aside as he feels she is not for him. The community in general takes against Lewis for various reasons and Lewis feels in some way he must fight back after hurting himself physically and mentally for so long.

I found this a very difficult book to describe in terms of what happens as I didn't want to give away any spoilers, as I feel it's a book that just needs to be read and absorbed. One cannot help feel so sorry for Lewis and want to shake everybody around him so that they can see what he is going through. However everyone in the book does appear to be suffering in various ways. I feel that this was an exceptionally well written novel that is dark, disturbing, distressing and depressing, but at the same time a most wonderful, colourful, absorbing read. As I was reading it I felt things were going from bad to worse and it seemed as if Lewis was doomed to fail in anything he tried to achieve. For me it was a book that had me desperate to find out what happened next and was very difficult to put down. I was absolutely amazed to find that this was the author's debut book, will definitely look out for the next.

Read this book - I don't believe you'll be disappointed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not flawless but a compelling read, 11 Feb 2009
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This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
It's been a long time since I found a book so hard to put down. The Outcast is a truly compelling read and Sadie Jones a very gifted writer. Her style is deceptively simple - spare prose which manages to convey an awful lot. The way she draws her characters by going into minute detail about their everyday actions is particularly effective.
Lewis is an interesting and believable protagonist - a very damaged young man who doesn't get the help and understanding he needs because this is the Stiff Upper Lip Fifties. How well Sadie Jones conveys that horribly pent-up feeling. However, I do wonder whether the unbearably hot weather (as others have said, very like Atonement) which mirrors and exacerbates the stultifying atmosphere is a bit of a cliche. If she'd set her story to boringly average weather and still maintained the sense of represssion, that really would have been clever.
Two things stop this from being a five star novel. Firstly, Sadie Jones is a screenwriter and one or two scenes (particularly the crucial Church scene at the end) are over-theatrical. They'll work very well in the inevitable film or TV adaptation, though. Secondly, a couple of the characters - especially the relentlessly dreadful Dicky Carmichael and his vacuous daughter Tamsin - veer dangerously close to caricature. While I've no doubt that the Fifties upper middle classes were buttoned-up, it would have done no harm to introduce a little more light and shade here.
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137 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oppressive, claustrophobic and OUTSTANDING!, 23 Jun 2008
By 
Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
It is difficult to know where to start when it comes to describing this book.

The story is set over a roughly ten year period and involves Lewis Aldridge who in the prologue is seen coming home after a spell in prison, we don't know why he has been there or what circumstances drove him to commit a crime but this just merely sets the scene for the next three parts of the book, as we discover why Lewis has been incarcerated and trapped not just in prison but in his short life.

Lewis background is filled in and we gradually come to know and meet all the characters. Gilbert Lewis' oppressive father who seems to think that by not talking about events means you will not have to deal with them. Elizabeth, the mother of Lewis, who hides in alcohol and who adores him and spoils him up until the day she tragically loses her life. Lewis grief sets off changes, event after event which affects everyone. Alice, the stepmother who is not stereotypical stepmother; evil, but weak in many ways, and I felt less empathy for this character, who made me want to scream, there is so much she could have done to help Lewis and stop things spiralling but she hid in her room, in alcohol and behind her new husband.

The Carmichaels are the major neighbouring family who the Aldridge's socialise with in their stuffy manner of class and system in the 1950s. Their youngest daughter Kit, is the other trapped character within this book, who is trying to escape the fact that she has fallen in love with the local bad boy `Lewis' but also her violent father, Dicky who seems to have control over everyone, either by force and brutality or what and whom he knows. Justice will prevail in the end for the reader, and a relief it was.

Lewis is a rather lost soul, after his mother has died and his actions are always referred back to the tragic event. He is trapped within the constraints of his mind, never discussing what has happened and uses self harm to release the pain. Trapped in prison, trapped amongst his father's regime and the neighbours as they expect a certain sort of behaviour, trapped by a local girl for fun to name but a few.

This book beautifully deals with some fairly brutal issues and places them into a society which is somewhat different to nowadays. The descriptions of the violence are somewhat shocking but this is only to emphasise the problems that these people have to deal. I really felt quite claustrophobic while reading the whole book and felt just as trapped as Lewis and Kit did.

There is not an Epilogue to this story, you do not know what happens after these major events, you just hope that justice prevails and those who live to be loved remain so and can find peace in their own minds.

Do not let any of this put you off the book it is a fantastic story which keeps you on the edge of your seat from page one right until the end. A great debut novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars harrowing but compelling, 5 Feb 2009
This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
I picked this book up to read on a long flight and couldn't put it down.
I found it equally compelling and harrowing. I feel most people will relate to the issues of self harm, prejudice and domestic violence. this book shows that prejudice and shame still exist. I await further works from this authour. Give it a go its fab!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rejected of Men, 26 Sep 2012
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
When Lewis Aldridge is ten, he watches his beautiful alcoholic mother Elizabeth dive into a river after a heavy drinking session and never resurface. In the wake of the trauma, Lewis finds nobody who will talk to him or try to understand his pain. His 'stiff upper lip' father Gilbert merely packs him off back to school and remarries as quickly as possible, to the childish, kindly but weak Alice. With no one to sympathize with him, and terrible memories lurking below the surface in his mind, Lewis slowly begins to crack up. As an adolescent he takes to drinking, self-harming and, in his late teens, slipping off to London to meet up with a prostitute. The other boys in the quiet, middle-class Surrey village where he lives taunt him, and he responds with violence. Public school offers him an escape from his unhappy home, but he is bullied there too. His father is no help at all, after one outbreak of violence insisting that Lewis read Kipling's 'If' and use it as his credo for behaviour - a superb touch of black comedy. Eventually, after a horrible scene in which he is bullied by his father's boss, local business magnate Dicky Carmichael, Lewis gives way to a particularly spectacular display of violence, and is put in prison for two years. He comes out eager to start a new, better, quiet life. But no one will trust him, and the wealthy inhabitants of Waterford, the Surrey village where his parents still live, led by Dicky Carmichael, view him with hatred and mistrust. Only Kit, Dicky's younger daughter, beaten and abused by her father since she was a child, trusts Lewis and wants to help him. But can Lewis accept this human warmth, and let Kit save him. Or will his violence resurface, damaging even Kit?

This was a masterly study of the violence that lies below the surface in many emotionally repressed English families. Jones both got the period flavour (1950s) and the description of her principal characters' behaviour, just right. Lewis's dark despair, and the way that it expresses himself in violence against himself and others, was brought vividly to life; he is not a straightforwardly likeable character, but we care for him and pity him. And Jones creates an effective contrast to Lewis in Kit Carmichael, a girl who has suffered almost equal trauma (an unloving mother, a violent father, a sister who has learnt to cope with Dicky's rages by behaving exactly in the way he wishes her to, and letting him indulge his vaguely incestuous affection for her, while letting her malice express itself in her behaviour to others suffering, such as Lewis), but who remains kind, calm, and aware of the good things in life: books, cats, swimming, music. Kit, who can somehow cope with the horrors of her existence while Lewis can't, and who might, just might, be able to save him from the dark path he has set down, is a superb creation, the final scene of the novel extremely moving. Jones also creates an effective claustrophobic community (reminiscent of the crowd sadism in Britten's operas) for the tragedy of Lewis to take place in: Gilbert, his unemotional but tormented father, Alice, the stepmother who ends up collapsing into alcoholism and misery due to the unhappiness of her marriage, Dicky the village patriarch, admired outside his home, a tyrant within it, and Lewis's upper-middle-class, moralistic neighbours, all longing to point the finger. There are some beautiful descriptions of London and the countryside, and the fast-paced plot will keep you turning the pages. If I stop at four stars it's because I feel that occasionally Jones went over the top in the horrors that she stacked up in Lewis and Kit's life (adding the quasi-incest strand to the plot after Lewis's return was, I felt, unconvincing, and nor did I quite believe the scene in which Kit's mother, hearing her daughter being beaten, reflected calmly 'It's not too bad, at least Dicky hasn't broken her arm as he did mine'.) I also would have liked Lewis to have been a slightly more rounded character - I felt that a boy that intelligent would have some vague ambitions and dreams, some striving to better himself and use his love of books and the arts to escape the horrible life he was stuck in. I felt Jones hadn't entirely made up her mind whether Lewis was a victim of circumstance, or whether the death of his mother (about whom I would have also liked to know more) had damaged him for ever.

Still, a very well constructed and gripping read. I'm currently reading Jones's second novel 'Small Wars' and am impressed by that too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, 12 Feb 2010
By 
LindyLouMac (Wales and Italy) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
An absorbing read in which it is I think impossible not to feel tremendously sympathetic towards the protagonist Lewis Aldridge who although only nineteen has already had an awful lot to cope with in his young life. What an unhappy young man although nobody seems to notice, or if they do they certainly do not offer to help him.

It was the 1950's stiff upper lip era and this angry and deeply troubled young man was just labelled as a trouble maker.

The early years of his life were spent solely in the company of his mother Elizabeth as his father was away fighting in the Second World War and they were very close. It is therefore no surprise to the reader at least, that after the tragic death of his mother Lewis suffers from overwhelming grief and anger. His father seems unable or unwilling to help his son and the damage done to Lewis, festers inside him until one day in his teenage years he just cannot take any more.

Never having had the support he needed from his family or local community as a boy, when he returns as a young man after serving a jail sentence his actions have still not been forgiven. His return in fact triggers chaos for the whole community.

The only person willing to help Lewis is young Kit Carmichael the youngest of his childhood playmates, who has her own painful secrets to hide. In her attempt to save Lewis from himself she brings her own father's horrifying behaviour towards her and other members of her family, out into the open.

A painful, menacing but beautifully and evocatively told story of duplicity amongst the middle classes in a nineteen fifties village in southern England.
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105 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 23 Jun 2008
By 
Lynne Barrett-lee (Cardiff, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
As a novelist myself, I tend to read fiction with both a writer and a reader's eye at the same time - and however much it pains me to admit it, this is the book, above all others I've read in the last year (and I read lots), that most makes me want to hurl it across the room, screaming 'I SO wish I'd written this!'. Which is also why I'm here singing its praises, as word of mouth is the best way to choose your next book.
Trust me, you won't be disappointed by this one. Unbelievably assured and well crafted for a first novel, The Outcast - who takes the form of recently released from prison 19 year old Lewis Aldridge - grabs you on the very first page and, simply put, just refuses to let you go. I defy anyone not to want to pluck the traumatised Lewis from his nightmare and take him home with them, and the claustrophobic and oppressive atmosphere of a stifling 1950's upper middle class Surrey is so well drawn it's hard to imagine this writer is too young to have lived it. Sadie Jones is not only a born novelist (so hurry up and write the next, please) but a worthy pick for the ever-reliable (and refreshingly publisher's-hype free) Richard and Judy machine. Just brilliant.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars extremely well written but thoroughly depressing, 6 July 2008
By 
love reading "marsy" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outcast (Paperback)
I am amazed that Richard & Judy chose this novel for their Summer Read collection. It is certainly not a book to read while relaxing by the pool. I enjoyed the reading of this as the style of writing is so pristine and fresh. It is also didactic and reveals the narrow minded prejudices of the not so distant past in a very powerful and clever way. It reminded me of Catcher in the Rye, one of my favourites. However, I just found the content so unedifying: self-harm, abuse, incestuous relationships, apathy, coldness etc, etc, etc. It was compulsive reading though as I had to find there was resolution and hope. If that hadn't come, I might just have put the book immediately in the bin. It has certainly made me think though and I am very moved by the experience of it but, too heavy going, for my taste but I can't deny its power and genius.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine debut novel, 12 Feb 2008
By 
Lincs Reader (Lincolnshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outcast (Hardcover)
This dark and mysterious story opens with Lewis leaving prison to return home to his highly dysfunctional family comprising of his father Gilbert and his step mother Alice.

Lewis' mother drowned ten years ago during a picnic by the river, and Lewis was the only witness to her death.

The reader is taken back to Lewis' earlier life and the happy times he shared with his mother whilst his father was away during the War. Once Gilbert appears back on the scene it is clear that there are many problems within the family.

After his mother's death Lewis slowly changes into a very sad, lonely and disturbed child. There are episodes of violence, self harming, alcoholism, running away and sexual exploits.

Gilbert's employer Mr Carmichael and his family feature heavily in the novel - Dickie the overbearing violent father, Claire the mousy wife and Tamsin and Kit, his two daughters.

The novel soon moves to Lewis' adolescence, outlining why he went to prison and the events after he returns to his family.

Tamsin and Kit, whilst very different in character both play an important part in Lewis' coming of age, along with Jeanie - a sleazy nightclub hostess in London. It is Jeanie who shows Lewis the most love and understanding.

I enjoyed this moving coming of age story, which motors along almost thriller-like at times. Lewis is a very odd, disturbed character but very likeable.

The novel ends with some violent scenes and almost bitter-sweet tenderness.

I was left wondering what would happen next to Lewis, his family and his associates.

This is a fine debut novel by Sadie Jones, who I think we will see more of over the next few years.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Outcast, 26 April 2012
This review is from: The Outcast (Kindle Edition)
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.Couldnt put it better my self!
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The Outcast
The Outcast by Sadie Jones (Hardcover - Mar 2008)
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