'The Young Accomplice' by Benjamin Wood, out in paperback this month is a story of two siblings out of borstal who are given a second chance to change their life by a young couple living on a Surrey farm in 1950’s England.
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THE YOUNG ACCOMPLICE
BY BENJAMIN WOOD
'The Young Accomplice' by Benjamin Wood, out in paperback this month is a compelling story of two siblings out of borstal who are given a second chance to change their life by a young couple living on a Surrey farm in 1950’s England.
Arthur and Florence Mayhood are young architects who decide to give up the rat race and move into the family farm Florence grew up on after her father dies. Their vision is to run the farm at the same time as taking on two disadvantaged apprentices who they will teach architecture, thus mirroring Arthur’s own upbringing as someone who had been in borstal and given the opportunity to become an architect. After careful consideration they choose two siblings, Charlie Savigears and his elder sister Joyce. At first, their experiment seems to pay dividends and offer Charlie and Joyce a different path in life, working on the farm and doing household chores alongside draughting classes. However, the arrival of Mal, a relationship from Joyce’s past threatens to destroy Arthur and Florence’s best laid plans and threaten their good intentions. How far will they go to protect these two young people they have become so attached to?
Wood alternates the narrator throughout the book, which gives a wonderful empathy to all the characters, even those with a smaller role such as the farm hand Hollis. His writing has a thoughtful and important theme – one mistake can change your life but by giving people a second chance alongside an education and a purpose you are giving them an opportunity to turn their life around. This touching story asks us to consider the question - can anyone succeed in life if they are given the right opportunities and support? The ending seems slightly out of kilt with the rest of the book, but does emphasises how two people’s lives can have very different outcomes depending on the path they choose.