Mainlander

Will Smith

Jersey 1987, and the storm clouds are gathering over Colin Bygate, a Mainlander married to an Islander. When he first arrived, he fell for the Island’s heathered headlands and golden coves, its winding lanes and sweeping tides, its background hum of Frenchness. But now he strikes a dissonant note.

Sitting on an outcrop stewing after a row with his wife, schoolteacher Colin spots one of his pupils near the edge of a cliff. Worried that the boy may have intended to jump, he drives him home, hoping that his gloomy imagination was playing tricks. But when the boy fails to turn up to school the next day,Colin feels duty-bound to track him down, pitting him against the Island establishment who would rather there was a little less noise around this particular absence.

A web of characters is spun around this mystery, each with his or her own secrets. In Jersey, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, you must become your own island.

Reviews of Mainlander

  • ‘John le Carré meets ‘Middlemarch’ … a terrific yarn … an assured debut … The most pertinent comparison might be to Broadchurch. Like the ITV thriller, it grips like Velcro … it is unusually vivid – all windy cliffs, extravagant homes and cheesy hotel bars, set against an Eighties soundtrack of Paul Simon and Dire Straits’ Independent

    ‘Smith makes good use of Jersey’s complex, layered history, intricate, chequered landscape and web of social cliques … Alongside the story of the missing boy, the novel sustains a number of different storylines … Smith handles these subplots with skill … like The Wicker Man meets Fargo. Which isn’t a bad thing’ Guardian

    ‘Like many a stand-up before him, Smith has had a bash at a novel — but, unlike so many of his predecessors, he’s actually come up with a proper work of fiction … A carefully worked plot, seen through the viewpoints of a clutch of cast members, builds nicely to a satisfying climax, helped along by the intervention of that stock market crash’ Daily Mail

    ‘The plot takes in a missing boy, a breaking marriage, a terrible storm, and a smarmy hotelier called Rob de la Haye, all of which Smith handles with aplomb, telling his story from the point of view of each of his characters in turn…If you’re in the market for a little light greed, deceit and hypocrisy with some Dire Straits and sea views on the side, this might just be one for your next holiday, whether on an island or not’ Guardian

    ‘’Mainlander’ is very much what people in the days before electronic books were very happy to call ‘a real page-turner.’ The tone is really impressive: very funny in all the right places, but sad in many others, and real and gripping all the way through. You care about everyone and their messy lives. When I’d finished ‘Mainlander’ I instantly wanted to know what everyone did next, especially Rob de la Haye, a mesmerisingly horrible man who’s appalling company I enjoyed enormously’ Armando Iannucci

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