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Problem Child
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About the Author

Caradoc King was born in 1947 and lives in London. He is a director of the literary agency, A P Watt, and numbers among his clients Philip Pullman, Michael Holroyd, Graham Swift and Helen Dunmore. This is his first book.

Reviews

"PROBLEM CHILD is immensely engaging from the first page. I have to confess that the author is an old friend, but there are depths and shadows and mysteries in the lives of even our closest friends, and Caradoc King has illuminated his own difficult and complicated childhood in a way that I found both moving and revelatory. It took courage to tell this story, and an unusual degree of emotional intelligence too. Those qualities would have counted for little, though, if the story had been poorly told, but at every point it's clear and compelling. It's a most impressive book." Philip Pullman 'A fascinating memoir which balances devastating honesty, warmth and irony ... a strong and courageous piece of writing and it tells an extraordinary story' Helen Dunmore ' Well, I've read your book over the Christmas holiday and was surprised, disturbed and eventually exhilarated by your story. I knew of course that your early years had been unconventional and difficult, but I did not know quite how sad and complex those years had been: a sort of persistent obstacle course you had to get through. And you have come through it all triumphantly. All human relations, as you say, are mysterious - we are mysterious to others and often to ourselves. What, to my mind, is especially good about your story is your present attitude to the past, particularly your admission that your formative years were blighted and upsetting coupled with your determination not to be dominated by that sadness - indeed to decide that you actually learnt something of value about human nature from your adopted mother's dire, unimaginative and deeply troubled personality. That is impressive and I do sincerely congratulate you. ' Michael Holroyd 'I devoured Problem Child, drawn in immediately by its addictive combination of little-boy-lost, aberrant motherhood and period detail of a peculiarly English Spartan lost age. It is a tale fluently told - one would expect nothing less from a man with King's background and training - but what will raise it above the competition is its compelling honesty and intense evocations of place. King makes his boyhood seem at once as full of arcane social detail as any costume drama yet as painful as fresh wounds, its trauma unsalved by nostalgia.' PATRICK GALE 'Reading Caradoc's memoir, you can't help fizzing with rage and sorrow on his behalf. It is not so much the moments of cruelty that catch your throat as the long shadow they left on a bewildered child. Caradoc grew up desperate for affection, falling hopelessly in love with other boys at boarding school and attaching himself like a limpet to any happy family that happened to invite him home for half-term. It is testimony to his capacity for emotional survival that he grew up able to write about these appalling times without a hint of rancour. If anything, he is grateful to the rackety crew of schoolteachers and other people's mothers who gave him brief glimpses of what it felt like to be loved. Problem Child is an exhilarating read... one that has taken a lifetime to write' Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday 4 stars 'Far from being a "misery memoir", the book is infused with a sense of yearning for a lost past. Beautifully written, it captures superbly the pleasure and pain of childhood' Ian Critchley, Sunday Times 'A compelling and courageous piece of writing that tells the extraordinary story of [Caradoc King's] own childhood and adolescence... Despite its painful subject matter, the book is shot through with King's warm, ironic sense of humour and an optimism that makes it in some ways quite exhilarating' Lisa O'Kelly, Observer 'For a teenage boy to lose his mother is a tragedy. To lose two, as Caradoc King did, is barely comprehensible, and to survive, not just to tell the tale but to tell it with lucid generosity, is truly remarkable. This book tells a shocking story of the damage inflicted by respectable, well-meaning middle-class parents on a child; but it also testifies to that child's resilience and enduring capacity to love... with its touches of the Brothers Grimm, [it then] enters Evelyn Waugh territory' Anne Chisholm, Evening Standard 'The problem is less often the child that the parent. Caradoc King's misfortune was first to be abandoned by his birth mother and then adopted by a loveless woman who treated him cruelly as a "problem child" until he was again left to fend for himself at 16. That was the beginning of his new life as a student at Oxford and later as a successful literary agent. More than 30 years later King tracked down his natural mother soon before she died and re-established good relationships with all his siblings. The story ends happily, mostly because King presents himself as a happy adult who can recall his childhood with candour and compassion but without rancour' The Times '"At university, we would pretend to be old buffers, having sherry before dinner"' How We Met with Philip Pullman, Independent on Sunday 6/3 'I WAS ERASED FROM FAMILY LIFE Some people enjoy secure and carefree childhoods. Others have it tougher - like Caradoc King. He tells Steven Russell about being jettisoned by his adoptive mother' 3 page feature, East Anglian Daily Times 12/3

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