MAINLANDER, Will Smith’s first novel, is set in 1987 on the island of Jersey and introduces us to a cast of utterly compelling and deeply flawed characters. Colin fell in love with the island when he moved there to be with the girl of his dreams. It’s just a few years later and his rose-tinted glasses are already shattered. Unbeknownst to him, his wife Emma, is just as unfulfilled and has embarked on an affair with Rob, her first love, whose flash life-style is in stark contrast to the one she shares with Colin. Rob, meanwhile, is desperately trying to keep up appearances as his ostensibly enviable life crumbles around his ears. Louise is running away from her troubled past in Liverpool and is determined to make a go of things on Jersey, by any means possible. Each narrative unfolds around the novel’s point of convergence: the disappearance of Duncan, a young islander and pupil of Colin’s.
The novel takes us under the skin of each of these characters and through them paints a vivid picture of the claustrophobic nature of island life. With the Great Storm and Black Monday as the backdrop, these stories are spun together with effortless skill. From the brilliantly observed minutiae of each relationship to the descriptions of Jersey itself, MAINLANDER is a novel about loneliness, about not belonging and about the corroding effects of keeping secrets.
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