6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Not flawless but a compelling read,
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.