Truestory – Catherine Simpson

‘I glanced at the sky. The weather could go either way. Come on, God, I thought, give the kid a break. Give him a chance to be normal for once.’

Alice lives on a remote Lancashire farm with her husband, Duncan, and their eleven year old, autistic son, Sam, whom she home schools.  Alice’s life revolves around Sam, whose eyes are burned by the colour yellow and who must eat exactly nineteen pieces of plain, buttered pasta every lunchtime, amongst other strange habits. Well, strange to anyone other than Alice that is.  Sam refuses to leave the farm, trapping Alice in his ever shrinking world with no foreseeable escape other than for the two hours she is allowed out on Tuesday afternoons.

When the ever inventive Duncan brings Larry, a wandering labourer, back from the pub one night, Alice doesn’t think her life could get any more complicated.  Larry will supposedly help them revive the farm by secretly growing marijuana in a polytunnel. Although Alice is opposed to it at first, Larry’s fondness for Sam changes her mind. Through Larry, Sam’s confidence has grown enough to have a party, and even to wander to unexplored areas of the farm, something he only feared before.

Larry has done wonders for Alice’s confidence too, by making her feel attractive and loved again. After only a few days Alice finds herself falling in love with Larry. But when she and Larry become more intimate in the polytunnel, Alice suddenly sees a hand splayed against the thin fabric. It belongs to Sam. But did he notice, and, if so, will he say anything to Duncan?

Simpson’s novel is a vivid and empathetic portrayal of what it is to be a mother to a special needs child living in isolation. She captures both the poignant and the comic aspects of their situation in this simple and well told story.

Truestory is published by Sandstone Press., and is launched today, 17th September, at Waterstones, Princes Street, Edinburgh.


Reveiewer. Kendra Olson, is the author of The Forest King’s Daughter.  Find out more about her at and follow her on Twitter @KendrarOlson



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