Saturday 27 October 2012

A Guest Blogger reviews The Child Who by Simon Lelic

I am delighted to introduce my friend Joan, who has kindly agreed to be the first guest reviewer on Random Things.

Joan describes herself as the daughter of a forces family who has lived in Staffordshire for 57 of her 62 years.  She has been married to Terry for 41 years.   Joan retired from teaching seven years ago and enjoys a very busy and active retirement.  Always a book-lover, she fostered a love of stories, not only to her own family with with her pupils.  She lists her loves in life as her family, homelife, friendships, reading, playing tennis, socialising, photography and holidaying.

Joan tells me that she thinks she sounds uninteresting - she isn't!   Joan and I met through an online book discussion group, we were virtual friends at first but have since met up many times to eat lunch, talk about books and laugh together.   She tells me that during her life she's been run over by a car, shot in the shoulder,  team-taught with a convicted paedophile, been stalked and received menacing phone calls TWICE, and coached a young gymnast who went on to compete in the Olympics - phew!   Hardly uninteresting!

Joan agreed to read and review Simon Lelic's latest novel; The Child Who which was published by Picador, an imprint of Pan Macmillan in paperback in July this year.   Here are Joan's thoughts;

What an absolute cracker this one was.  The story revolves in the main around Leo Curtice, the duty solicitor,  when police telephone the Exeter practice of twelve solicitors where Leo works, to ask for representation for twelve-year-old Daniel Blake, charged with the shockingly violent murder of his ten-year-old school mate Felicity Forbes.  

The tension escalates throughout the build up to the trial, with Leo receiving hate mail, his daughter Eleanor being attacked and covered by red ink, and his wife being frightened witless by an intruder emerging from the dark at her lounge window.  Despite the worries of his fellow solicitors and his family, Leo is determined to mount a comprehensive defence to minimise the impact of the sentence to be bestowed upon Daniel, who admits to the charge and feels deep regret for his actions.  

When Leo's daughter disappears, he and his wife are distraught with worry and Leo reluctantly hands over the case to a colleague while he concentrates on helping the police to track down the abductor of his daughter.  In his absence, and to Leo's horror, Daniel is sentenced without offering the defence Leo had envisaged and worked so hard on.    

There are two strands to this story, with Daniel's story the back-story set in the past, being the bulk of the book.  The contemporary strand, running parallel tells of the devastating consequences for Leo's family.  With chilling reminders of the prosecution of John Venables and Robert Thompson in the 1993 murder of toddler James Bulger, and the relaxing of the age of responsibility for criminal actions to ten year olds,  there is plenty of room for reflection and discussion about the rights and wrongs of the treatment metered out on Daniel.  This is a meticulously researched, well-written novel, a page-turner that will stay in my thoughts for a very long time.

My thanks to Joan for such a fabulous review of The Child Who. I look forward to introducing more guest reviewers over the coming months.


  1. I love Joans intro - what an interesting lady!

    I really liked the review and may keep a wee eye out for this one. Loving the new feature Anne xxx


  2. This one's already on my wishlist Anne, I loved Rupture by the same author. But I have to say Joan's life also sounds interesting enough to read more about!