*** DEBUG END ***

Local boy comes good  

18 November 2016

Sarah Meyrick finds interest in a many layered love story

The Girl at the End of the Road
K. A. Hitchens
Instant Apostle £9.99
Church Times Bookshop £9



THIS is a first novel by newcomer K. A. Hitchens. Set in rural Suffolk, it tells the story of Vincent, a high-flying City financier who has crashed and burned owing to the recession. When his trophy girlfriend chucks him out, he reluctantly returns home, to live in his childhood bedroom.

An only child, he struggles with the constraints of his parents’ parochial lifestyle, and finds himself all at sea. Until, that is, he meets a childhood friend, Sarah, who now has a job in the local library. Dowdy Sarah is totally unlike any of the people he counted as friends back in London, and she challenges him and his preconceptions about what is normal.

There is plenty that is good about this book. I don’t want to give too much away, but the author takes some challenging subjects — loneliness, ageing, consumerism, and special needs — and handles them with sensitivity. It is apparent very early on (to everyone but Vincent, that is) that Sarah is on the autistic spectrum; and it is certainly unusual to have a female Asperger’s character in fiction, partly, no doubt, because autism is so much more common in men. But in Sarah, the author creates a compelling and sympathetic character, who gets under the skin. I was relieved that the author resisted the temptation to provide any over-romantic or easy answers about Sarah’s future at the end.

There are also some touching moments between father and son, as they struggle to keep from Vincent’s mother the fact that his father’s health is failing, and he is being tested for serious illness. And there are entertaining descriptions of the challenges of teaching someone to drive.

From my point of view, however, the weakness of the novel is that Vincent is such an utterly unappealing and one-dimensional character. As a result, it is hard for the reader to care very much about him. He is self-centred and arrogant, and his transformation at the very end is too sudden to be altogether convincing. In general, the book suffers from a lack of subtlety, with dialogue that is often clunky and laboured.


Sarah Meyrick is the Director of Communications for the diocese of Oxford

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Church Times Bookshop

Save money on books reviewed or featured in the Church Times. To get your reader discount:

> Click on the “Church Times Bookshop” link at the end of the review.

> Call 0845 017 6965 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm).

The reader discount is valid for two months after the review publication date. E&OE

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)