The drama of a young boy falling into a flooded river and being swept away by the torrent serves as the pivotal point and anchor around which all these characters and their stories revolve.
Are they united by this tragedy? Sadly, no, but these are real human beings scarred with all the flaws and failings of what it is to be human. Whilst some rally, others inevitably flounder.
The language is lavish. Creswell immerses herself in the rich voluptuousness of her words, whisking us along inexorably for the ride whether willing or no. I for one, I was happy to follow in her wake.
This is a style of writing considered no longer ‘in vogue’; present trends dictate that detail be bare and sparse in order to facilitate a more imaginative and interactive reader experience; let the reader fill in the gaps.
By contrast, reading this book could be likened to watching a movie; every tiny, delicious detail is laid out for us to behold in glorious, luxurious technicolour. Each character is vibrant and solid, every nuance of their appearance and behaviour meticulously recreated for us with thought, care, imagination and deliberation. Backgrounds and locations are paid just as much attention as the main stars.
This book will undoubtedly have you falling in love with language all over again; will inspire you with just what can be done by the skilful lacing together of words on a page.
The plot is subtle and weaving, surprising at times, a contributor, but never a dictator. The strength of this novel lies in its characters. You won’t love or admire them all, but you will recognise them. Mrs Fairlie is held upright only by her stubborn pride, refusing to acknowledge it as the weakness which resulted in her dysfunctional offspring. Jennifer is self-centred and self-serving. Rose is the kindly nurse who cares more for her patients than her family. Matt is the unruly teenager made delinquent by the break-up of his parents’ marriage. Skinner does a runner, unable to cope with his mother’s disappearance and father’s drunken violence.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Mr Pickering is the tyrant factory owner who re-invents himself after a heart attack, determined to make amends for past wrong-doings. Megan is the waitress turned rescuer. Guy is the journalist with a conscience. Jade puts her sister’s interests ahead of her own happiness. Each is burdened with their own personal demons, each struggling to find a way to redeem themselves.
Through these people, Cresswell tackles subjects which impact on all our lives, topics we might prefer to ignore; how money and class mark out territory; how unemployment leads to crime and degeneration; divorce, rape, lawlessness, and how the actions of adults influence the young.
The Indi author movement has had much bad press in the past. Anyone can publish a book these days and call themselves a writer. Inevitably, the standard can be less than professional. Creswell is a remarkable storyteller, and a talented wordsmith. Lost Boys is a triumph for the Indi movement, and an example of all that is good about it.