Ellis is obsessed with the spiders that inhabit the crumbling house where he lives with his dad, his older sister and Great-Aunt Mafi - and by a need to find out more about his mother, whose death overshadows the family's otherwise happy existence.
He is a sensitive soul - awkward and out of place most of the time but funny, too, and with an embarrassing habit of speaking his thoughts aloud, whatever the company. From early attempts at relationships to unskilled jobs, flatshares and drug-addled nights on the beach, Ellis muddles his way towards adulthood. What endures is the strength of his bond with his dad, Denny, and his affectionate relationship with his intrepid sister, who turns up whenever he needs her - a new boyfriend in tow every time.
The family banter is Ellis' lifeline and a counterpoint to the constant heartache of his desire to know something - anything - about his mother. Meanwhile Denny, an ex-Merchant Navy man, bottles up his grief at the loss of his wife, refusing to talk about her.
"When you try to protect someone from grief, do you prevent them from feeling anything at all? A beautiful debut about a son trying to break free from his father." (Financial Times)
"A remote corner of Kent is the background to Connolly's magical coming-of-age novel. Growing up, Ellis prefers to spend time on the local farm; later he will develop a talent for photography, but relationships remain a mystery to him in this fierce, humane and hazily poetic work." (Guardian)
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