Vincent River by Philip Ridley

Everyone in our book group enjoyed this powerful two-hander play which keeps up the suspense right the way through. A working-class mother helps a teenage boy come to terms with his guilt in way reminiscent of psychodrama. In the tour de force at the end, describing horrific violence, one can almost taste and smell the scene. Two people’s lives are ruined by opprobrium but the chrysalis to butterfly and wings is a powerful image of potential new life after tragedy.

I completely understand the fear that led the mother to hide all evidence of her son’s lifestyle by taking some of his stuff to distant litter bins to avoid her neighbour’s discovering it. I wonder, though, whether most people would you have let a complete, unkempt stranger into their house. I was amused by the doctor telling her to smoke when pregnant to keep her calm: a sign of how things have changed. (Though some in our group wondered if prejudice was so rampant at this time.)

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