‘I didn’t want to have this idea. It hunted me down.” The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey

October 21, 2020 at 7:10 pm (Book review, books)

Three teenagers – siblings who live in a village near Oxford – are walking home from school when they catch sight of a boy, similar to them in age, lying in a field adjacent to the road that they themselves are walking along. He is quite still, seemingly insensate.

They – Matthew, Zoe, and Duncan – cross the field for a closer inspection. It is obvious that the boy is injured. Hurt, but alive. In fact, they each hear him whisper a single word: cow? coward? cowslip?

Watching the vein pulsing in his temple, his chest rising and falling, he had sensed that the boy had made his way to a place of safety; to wake him would be to hurl him back into hardship.

From this incident, an engrossing narrative unfolds. Matthew takes it on himself to discover the identity of the boy’s assailant, while Zoe pursues a love affair with an older American whom she has met by chance. Duncan – the youngest, an adoptee, a gifted artist and an especially lovable child, decides to launch a quest for his “first mother.” They are each, in other words, on a quest.

The three should not have been walking home from school, to begin with. Their father, a man with a most unusual profession, was supposed to pick them up. But he failed to appear. There was a reason.

Some years ago, a book group I was in discussed an earlier novel by Margot Livesey. I believe it was  The House on Fortune Street. I’ve always meant to read another novel by this author. Now I have, and I loved it. I slowed down the pace of my reading toward the end, hating the thought of finishing it.

Highly, highly recommended.

Margot Livesey

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