Friends and admirers of A N Wilson will be alarmed to learn that he has written a novel about paedophilia. What can he possibly say on the subject that is not either banal or hopelessly unacceptable? In an age which sees child sex as the only opportunity left for moral outrage, Wilson risks having every Lunchtime O’Booze in business jumping up and down on him for raising the matter.
The danger of his protagonist’s being exposed as a paedophile accounts for a large part of the narrative tension, and our fluctuating sympathy for this man – a bearded, fifty-two-year-old, once-fashionable literary figure called Oliver Gold – determines the ‘message’ of the novel, if, indeed, it has a message.
We start in a courtroom in America where an unnamed female is accusing an unnamed male of having raped her when she was six years old, thirty-five years earlier. She was reminded of this incident by a psychotherapist, she reveals, having previously forgotten it, but claims to have been suffering