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Summary

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Popular Fiction Award, 2009.
Winner of the Costa First Novel Award, 2008.

A Richard and Judy Summer Read Selection.

It's 1957 and Lewis Aldridge is travelling back to his home in the South of England. He is straight out of jail and 19 years old. His return will trigger the implosion not just of his family, but of a whole community.

A decade earlier, his father's homecoming casts a different shape. The war is over, and Gilbert has recently been demobbed. He reverts easily to suburban life - cocktails at six-thirty, church on Sundays - but his wife and young son resist the stuffy routine.

Lewis and his mother escape to the woods for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert's wife counters convention, but they are all shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her.

Not far away, Kit Carmichael keeps watch. She has always understood more than most, not least from what she has been dealt by her own father's hand. Lewis's grief and burgeoning rage are all too plain, and Kit makes a private vow to help. But in her attempts to set them both free, she fails to predict the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open.

As menacing as it is beautiful, The Outcast is a devastating portrait of small-town hypocrisy from an astonishing new voice.

The Outcast has been selected as Richards and Judy's first book for their summer reading promotion.

Click here to see all the titles in our Radio & TV Book Clubs collection.
©2008 Sadie Jones (P)2008 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"[A] superb debut novel....Jones's prose is fluid, and Lewis's suffering comes across as achingly real." ( Publishers Weekly)
"The gentleness of Dan Steven's voice and his finely judged hesitations reveal all Lewis's vulnerabilities, and make the flaws of this quite awful social circle convincing and human." ( Observer)

"Sadie Jones's debut novel Outcast is enthralling listening. It is set in the 1950s, an age we are only now beginning to see objectively, when girls wore short white gloves with their summer dresses but could still have their heads and hearts turned by male animal magnetism; when boys were mystified by the taciturnity of fathers (still called sir) who had lived through the horrors of war, and by mothers who turned to the bottle or to manic domesticity for compensatory comfort. Jones (below) engineers her thrill-a-minute plot with a sure hand. Dan Stevens, the narrator, gets the voices of the 1950s absolutely right, as convincing as Lewis's bottled-up-father as he is as Kit's vampish older sister."
(Christina Hardyment, The Times )
"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." ( The Independent)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elisabeth
  • Harpenden, Herts, United Kingdom
  • 02-08-10

excellent

a great book - so atmospheric of its era you could reach out and touch the stilted atmosphere of the times. the painful story of the young man's relationship with his father, the woman's relationship with her new husband - quite astounding. I was carried away listening to it- This is the sort of book that needs applause. I will look out for more of Sadie Jones

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Suzann
  • Shefford, Beds, United Kingdom
  • 15-01-09

Wow!

It took me a little while to get into this book but once I was in there was no coming out! The book is brilliantly read and the characters completely come to life. There were times when I found myself yelling at them I was so involved. The events happen over 9 years and the era is caught beautifully in the narration and descriptions. I really recommend this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well written and read

Great story very well told. One really got in to the characters and willed them on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping,sad, beautifully written and read story.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I couldn't turn it off

What did you like best about this story?

The way it was read Narrator was excellent.
Fascinating account of a young boys life

Have you listened to any of Dan Stevens’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes but wasn't possible with my schedule

Any additional comments?

Will look out for more read by Dan Stevens

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

It's a love-hate thing

I'm not sure whether I loved this book, or hated it.
The writing style was so irritating, I almost switched it off several times... but then there was the story that just had to be heard to the end.
Fabulous portrayal of a difficult time.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful