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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