Random House, £16.99 (5CDs)
Audiobook of the week: The Outcast by Sadie Jones (read by Dan Stevens)
Sunday 19 October 2008
When 19-year-old Lewis Aldridge is released from prison in 1957, we have no idea what his crime was. He goes home to Surrey, to his jittery step-mother Alice and his ice-cold father Gilbert, and wonders what to do next.
Little by little the story comes out. Lewis's mother – beautiful and unconventional – had devoted herself to her son while Gilbert was away in the army. But when Lewis is 10 she dies in a ghastly accident he is incapable of describing, and he is enveloped in grief.
In terse, vivid prose, Sadie Jones describes his helpless disintegration, against a background of apparent social respectability. Period details (sherry at 12.30, avenues of rhododendrons) emphasise the repressed hypocrisy of his neighbours' mock-Tudor lives.
Dan Stevens is the perfect reader for this remarkably original, accomplished and compelling book. The ground-bass of his voice is steady, low and tense, yet when the text requires it he is as capable of light flirtatiousness as of furious rage. One man emerges as the real villain of the piece: slimy Dickie Cunningham, rich, manipulative and sadistic, given to beating his daughter. Stevens reads him as if smiling between clenched teeth. When Lewis finally exposes him as the brute he is, in a magnificently cathartic penultimate scene, you want to cheer.
TVJamie's Sugar Rush reveal's campaigning chef's new foe
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
- 2 If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
- 3 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
The Gamechangers trailer: Daniel Radcliffe stars in GTA movie
Three million books were judged by their covers - this is what happened
Anne Hathaway is already being stung by Hollywood ageism, aged 32
No Escape, film review: Thriller generates plenty of excitement but soon collapses
The Lobster trailer: Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a lover or he'll be turned into an animal
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees