Five Boys

Five Boys

  • Paperback
By (author) 

List price: US$20.06

Currently unavailable

We can notify you when this item is back in stock

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks

Product details

  • Paperback | 248 pages
  • ISIS Publishing
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New ed of Large print ed
  • 0753166577
  • 9780753166574

Review Text

Capturing the sweet strangeness of childhood, Mick Jackson's new novel is set against the comic background of a rural Devon village adjusting to World War II. The five boys of the title are initially encountered through the eyes of an East End evacuee, Bobby, an alien creature to them. The boys are a somewhat strange entity too; all born within the same week, they form a unit that is disturbingly indivisible and are left much to themselves until the arrival of the Bee King with his honey, bee lore and strange rituals. Deciding Bobby is the vanguard of the fifth column, they torment him very creatively before suddenly initiating him into their games. Jackson does not romanticise childhood; he ably captures the innocent malevolence of children, their unformed and adaptable natures: the boys' receptivity is what bonds the Bee King to them. Inhabited by quirky comic characters of great invention rather than rural caricatures, the village itself provides much gentle humour provoked by the new necessities of war. There are some excellent set pieces, notably when the villagers bluff their way into the American training area in pursuit of an errant pig and when the GIs are invited to a barn-dance, the jitterbug unleashing an unrestrained frenzy of female energy. As you would expect from a writer who was shortlisted for the Booker for his debut novel, the writing is superb, with an easy humour and well-observed insights. Unfortunately, though, the conclusion is strangely unsatisfying. Bobby disappears without explanation halfway through and the intriguing Bee King, the central character, arrives only in the last quarter of the book. The effect is disjointed and feels unresolved even on the last page, which is a shame because otherwise this is a very entertaining read. (Kirkus UK)show more