A New York Times Notable Book of the Year | An O Magazine Best Book of the Year
The New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy delivers another “luminous, unforgettable, and perfectly rendered” (Dennis Lehane) novel—a poignant and probing psychological drama that follows the lives of three siblings in the wake of a violent crime.
One September afternoon in 1999, teenagers Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang are walking home from school when they discover a boy lying in a field, bloody and unconscious. Thanks to their intervention, the boy’s life is saved. In the aftermath, all three siblings are irrevocably changed.
Matthew, the oldest, becomes obsessed with tracking down the assailant, secretly searching the local town with the victim’s brother. Zoe wanders the streets of Oxford, looking at men, and one of them, a visiting American graduate student, looks back. Duncan, the youngest, who has seldom thought about being adopted, suddenly decides he wants to find his birth mother. Overshadowing all three is the awareness that something is amiss in their parents’ marriage. Over the course of the autumn, as each of the siblings confronts the complications and contradictions of their approaching adulthood, they find themselves at once drawn together and driven apart.
Written with the deceptive simplicity and power of a fable, The Boy in the Field showcases Margot Livesey’s unmatched ability to “tell her tale masterfully, with intelligence, tenderness, and a shrewd understanding of all our mercurial human impulses” (Lily King, author of Euphoria).
Livesey (Mercury) serves up a distinctive blend of literary fiction and psychological thriller. It's nearing the end of 1999 when teenaged sibling Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan Lang spot a boy, beaten and unconscious, in the outskirts of Oxford, England, after their father, Hal, fails to pick them up from school. The paramedics arrive and take the boy away in an ambulance, and the children rush home, realizing "something enormous" has happened. The event brings their statuses in the family into stark relief. Duncan, having been sent by his siblings to call for help, reckons with the "inevitability of being the youngest." Matthew, the oldest, enamored by the heroes and villains of crime novels, wants to know who did it and why. Zoe follows men in Oxford streets, wondering if they were the perpetrators, and experiences a rude sexual awakening along the way ("You're a hot little thing, aren't you?" one says to her). Duncan, who's adopted, believes finding information about the victim will help him in the search for his biological mother. Hal and his wife, Betsy, support their pursuits, which eventually drive the couple apart. Precise prose, cool observation, and tight pacing will keep readers turning the pages. This is a memorable twist on the coming-of-age tale.