15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The End of Alice (Paperback)
It is difficult to know what to say about this book. By turns I was revolted, amazed, made extremely uncomfortable, and found myself aghast at the vision that created it. Alice is a 12 year-old girl and her story is told by the man who killed her, a paedophile in prison. The child herself is portrayed as extraordinarily precocious, as is another, a 12 year-old boy whose seducer, a 19 year-old young woman, is writing to the paedophile. The 12 year-olds are willing, complicit, both of them. In the world of the paedophile, of course, they would be seen as such, even if they were not.
Alice's killer is subjected to stomach-churning abuse as a boy - one scene of him in a bath with his mother does for baths what Alfred Hitchcock did for showers, and then some. At one point I did not really want to continue reading - it made me feel grubby and profoundly uncomfortable, but I persevered, and I am impressed, but I don't want to be impressed.
A M Homes' writing talents are extraordinary, but I wonder what she gained by portraying a paedophile as a victim? Perhaps that is her point? Perhaps there is nothing done in this world that cannot be explained or understood? To write from the point of view of everyone's moral panic figure is brave, defiant, almost as if she is saying there is nothing under the sun that a human being cannot comprehend.
I expected to be shocked by this novel - but at the same time I knew I would want to defend Homes' right to portray a taboo subject. What I did not expect is my feeling of revulsion at the complicity of the children concerned. Perhaps what I missed in this extraordinary book is some confirmation that this complicity was an illusion of the paedophile? I'm pretty sure I would have recognised this element if it had been present. I may read it again some time with this idea more in mind, but I hesitate to put myself through this experience more than once. Trusting to my own judgement therefore, my conclusion is that it isn't there because there is no room for it in the paedophile's psychology. For him to admit to even an inkling of the immorality of his actions would bring his world crashing down around him.
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Initial post: 8 May 2013, 18:48:43 BST
Thank you for such a detailed and useful review. It has really helped x
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