AW Gail is a British novelist, poet and scriptwriter. She has worked in numerous countries across the world and, for a while, was a university lecturer. She has short stories included in a number of different anthologies. Check out her Amazon author page and you will find quite a little treasure trove of writings there.
But it's Gail's novel, This Much Huxley Knows, that captured my attention as a reader. Huxley is the central character and he is also the child narrator of this story. That concept has always intrigued me, both as a reader and a writer. And, yes, I know it's not a new idea. When you consider the novels that use a child as the narrator or primary voice - The Book Thief, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and What Maisie Knew are just a few that spring to mind - you quickly come to understand the depth and complexity of the task of writing from that point of view.
Having discovered the book, I was particularly keen to read it. And I was not disappointed. The narrative flows well. The character of Huxley is very well drawn and I found myself very quickly taken to this kid with his quirky sense of humour and his need to re-arrange the English language to suit whatever situation he found himself embroiled. His view of the world, and the adults in it, is highly amusing. He took me back to my own childhood and some of the antics that my brothers got up to. Huxley also made me think about those times when, as a kid, I knew I was right, but my parents insisted the opposite. This cleverly conceived narrative really puts the differences between the adult and child sense of logic under the microscope, and at times the differences are glaring! As an examination of trust and innocence in the 21st century, this book is well worth a read.
As I was so intrigued by Huxley, I've invited his creator to explain why she chose a seven-year-old as her narrator. Gail, tell me more...
GA The idea for Huxley came from my debut novel The String Games where the catalyst for the story involves the disappearance of four-year-old Josh who goes missing during a family holiday in France. It was because I enjoyed this child character, that I decided to explore writing with a young narrator. When I read the early chapters of This Much Huxley Knows to my writing group, they were sceptical that I’d be able to sustain a child’s voice for the length of a novel. This proved to be a motivating factor – tell me I can’t do something and I’ll always want to give it a try.
about the book… I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
You can get the book on Amazon and you can find my review on Amazon and Goodreads.