Book Review: The End of Alice by A. M. Homes

The End of Alice by A.M. HomesGenre: contemporary fiction
First Published: 1996
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 272
Rating: 4/5


The End of Alice: What it is About

This is a fictional account of a man in prison. He’s been there for 23 years now, a paedophile that likes young girls. He’s utterly unreliable as a narrator, and it’s clear that many of his writings are fantasies.

He tells about his life in prison, where he’s frequently raped (although he doesn’t struggle, he thinks he deserves it). He also tells about his youth and this, if true, is an explanation for his deviant sexual feelings.

He corresponds by letter with a young woman. She’s 19, which is too old for his liking, but she has an interesting secret: she likes boys a lot younger than herself. She writes to him about her conquest Matthew, who is only 12, and the writer fantasises what exactly they do together.

In the end we find out why he is in prison and I actually felt (a little) sorry for him that he ended up in the situation that brought him to commit his crime.

The End of Alice: What I thought

4 stars (out of 5) This book is awful. It’s good. It’s a story to run away from. Hide the book and don’t let your kids read it. It’s sexually explicit, and sexually deviant. Still, I was intrigued.

The only reason I wanted to read this book, is that A. M. Homes is one of my favorite writers. I have read most of her books, and This Book Will Save Your Life is one of my all-time favorite books. The End of Alice was written just as beautifully as her other books. Only the beginning was rather heavily literary, and hard to follow for me. It took me a few pages to get into the book.

The book is a very good example of a story by an unreliable narrator. Several times during the book, I was wondering whether what he was telling the reader was correct. Did the girl, Alice, actually exist, and did she do what he thinks she did? How much did he make up himself?

There were some unpleasant moments in the book, with some explicit scenes, but once I got through the first of them, I didn’t get used to it, but I realised it was (just) manageable for me. So I kept reading to find out more about the paedophile and about Alice.

Very disturbing and explicit. Not one for everyone.

Extra: See also my review of May We Be Forgiven

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About Judith
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12 Responses to Book Review: The End of Alice by A. M. Homes

  1. I read Music for Torching a few years ago and still haven’t recovered. I loved it, but it was so awful! So full of quiet brutality and anguish and suffering, full of characters that were reprehensible, and yet the end result was disturbingly beautiful.

    I went back to the library a month or so after I finished reading the book and then realized the library had purged all its Homes titles. Apparently, I was the first person to check out one of her books in years.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Jennifer, Music for Torching was a great book. But be aware: this one is a LOT worse. Such a pity the library doesn’t have Homes books anymore. You MUST read This Book Will Save Your Life. It’s NOT awful at all, it’s great.

  2. I am intrigued by the sound of this book; I like unreliable narrators (when it works). I may just look out for this. Thanks for the review.

  3. Nadine Nys says:

    I didn’t know This Book Will Save Your Life was one of your favourites, Judith. I read it and loved it too. It seems this will be totally different, but I think I will put it onto my wishlist anyway.

  4. Leslie says:

    Wow. I like a disturbing book once in a while.

  5. Hi: I read the End of Alice years ago – creeped me out, was horrible, but I think that’s OK – I’m intrigued by the idea of trying to understand pedophiles – the more we make them inhuman, the worse things are (and their crimes are nearly as bad as you can get). So, The End of Alice was disturbing, but profound – good review, Happy reading, Ruby

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