Caryl Phillips

The Lost Child

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In 1771, Mr Earnshaw returns to Yorkshire from Liverpool with a bundle in his arms. ‘As dark almost as if it came from the devil’, this strange apparition is taken into the bosom of his family and becomes the starting point of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.Almost two-hundred years later, Monica Johnson, a young woman growing up in a conservative family in the north of England, leaves her place at Oxford to marry a man from the Caribbean against her parents' wishes and then struggles to bring up their children as a single mother in Leeds.While Ben is popular, does well at school and embraces the popular culture of the day, Tommy is bullied and remains an outcast, as stigmatised by the origins of his parentage as Healthcliff was. Vulnerable and alone, Tommy disappears one day, demolishing the precarious family bond with an intensity matched only by Heathcliff's arrival into the Earnshaw clan.In the tradition of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea and J M Coetzee’s Foe, The Lost Child boldly re-imagines the origins of Heathcliff, and the manner in which he emerged from Emily Brontë’s imagination, to deftly spin tales of disparate lives bound by the past and struggling to liberate themselves from it into a haunting novel about migration, social exclusion and the difficulties of family.
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291 printed pages

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