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Throw Me to the Wolves Reviews

Throw Me to the Wolves by Patrick McGuinness

Throw Me to the Wolves

Patrick McGuinness

4.00 out of 5

4 reviews

Imprint: Jonathan Cape Ltd
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publication date: 4 Apr 2019
ISBN: 9781787331464

Ander is always watchful, but particularly now, because the man across the table is his former teacher - Michael Wolphram - whom he hasn't seen in nearly 30 years. A perceptive and pertinent novel of our times, beautifully written and psychologically acute, it manages to be both very funny and - at the same time - shatteringly sad.

4 stars out of 5
William Skidelsky
14 Jun 2019

"An eccentric boarding school teacher becomes a media hate figure in a novel that sidesteps conventional thrills"

Ultimately, it’s this attentiveness that makes Throw Me to the Wolves such an absorbing novel. McGuinness may have eschewed most of the conventional thrills of procedural fiction, but what he withholds in suspense and action he amply repays in the form of language: on virtually every page, there are perfectly judged descriptions that reveal something about the world. “Nothing ages you,” we learn, “more perfectly than what your idea of the future will look like.” Reflecting on the changing connotations of “grooming”, Ander describes it as a “word that used to mean something small and innocent, with its old-school menswear-shop ritualism”.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Justine Jordan
26 Apr 2019

"Based on the story of Christopher Jefferies, hounded by the press for a crime he didn’t commit, this is an elegiac exploration of trauma"

In its elegiac exploration of memory and the legacy of childhood trauma, though, Throw Me to the Wolves is intensely powerful, and a beautifully measured evocation of the way that far from being dead the past is, as Faulkner said, not even past. “If you’re measuring it in … what? Inside-time? Heart-and-blood time? Lining-of-our-lives time?... in that case it’s yesterday. It’s always yesterday there, in the lining of our lives.”

4 stars out of 5
Alastair Mabbott
21 Apr 2019

"McGuinness plays all this out beautifully, allowing each aspect of the story to resonate meaningfully"

McGuinness plays all this out beautifully, allowing each aspect of the story to resonate meaningfully with the others. The trial by media of Michael Wolphram becomes the centre of gravity which draws together the culture of bullying and submission in the public school system and the sense in which our present time can be partly defined as a hangover after the rampant abuse and casual child sexualisation of previous decades...Having the contemplative Ander as his narrator gives McGuinness the opportunity to let the story unspool at its own pace while he explores all its facets in clean prose polished to the point of translucence.

4 stars out of 5
Melissa Katsoulis
6 Apr 2019

"a proper page-turner"

McGuinness, who lectures in French at Oxford University as well being a poet and novelist, spins his tale with some beautiful, unashamedly intellectual prose. It’s a pity that the female characters are mostly one-dimensional archetypes (and that Zalie remains a faceless cipher). However, in all other respects this is literary fiction as it should be: in stylish, surprising, lyrical sentences we are forced to confront the hidden power structures, public and private, that control our everyday lives. It’s reminiscent of Edward St Aubyn, not only in its pillorying of the elite, but the pleasure McGuinness takes in having his characters say clever things. It’s also a proper page-turner.