The Child Who: A Novel Paperback – February 28, 2012


Simon Lelic’s third book, The Child Who, takes him back to the format that worked so successfully with his first novel, Rupture, avoiding the near-future angle he took, less successfully I felt, with his second book. Lelic’s themes are always inspired by real events that have been in the news. Here, he tackles the murder of an 11 year old child by Daniel, a 12 year old. The creative inspiration is surely the James Bulger case and he acknowledges the creative debt to Blake Morrison’s As If on that very subject.

Who carried out the crime is not in any doubt. Why is another matter. Of even more focus for Lelic is how ‘the system’ treats young perpetrators. When local solicitor Leo takes the call from the duty officer to meet the young murderer, he becomes involved beyond his experience. In particular, neither he nor his wife and teenage daughter are prepared for the public outcry against Leo for acting for the young murderer.



Subject of this extraordinary novel is the daily life of an English family in the Hebrides. “Radiant as [To the Lighthouse] is in its beauty, there could never be a mistake about it: here is a novel to the last degree severe and uncompromising. I think that beyond being about the very nature of reality, it is itself a vision of reality.”-Eudora Welty, from her Introduction.


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