The Attic Child
Longlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2023.
‘An incredibly important book . . . a beautifully crafted, compelling story . . . which will undoubtedly break your heart but also make it sing’ - Mike Gayle
Two children trapped in the same attic, almost a century apart, bound by a secret.
1907: Twelve-year-old Celestine spends most of his time locked in an attic room of a large house by the sea. Taken from his homeland and treated as an unpaid servant, he dreams of his family in Africa even if, as the years pass, he struggles to remember his mother’s face, and sometimes his real name . . .
Decades later, Lowra, a young orphan girl born into wealth and privilege, will find herself banished to the same attic. Lying under the floorboards of the room is an old porcelain doll, an unusual beaded claw necklace and, most curiously, a sentence etched on the wall behind an old cupboard, written in an unidentifiable language. Artefacts that will offer her a strange kind of comfort, and lead her to believe that she was not the first child to be imprisoned there . . .
Lola Jaye has created a hauntingly powerful, emotionally charged and unique dual-narrative novel about family secrets, love and loss, identity and belonging, seen through the lens of Black British History in The Attic Child.
‘This is important storytelling about issues of race and privilege . . . that will stay with me for a long time’ - Tracy Chevalier
‘Just brilliant’ - Dorothy Koomson
‘Powerful and emotional’ - Lisa Jewell
Bruising, yet hopeful epic novel. . . Emotional and evocative, The Attic Child is a powerful tale of trauma, identity and survival.
An incredibly important book giving breath to voices we sadly seldom hear, Lola Jaye’s The Attic Child is a beautifully crafted, compelling story crossing continents and time which will undoubtedly break your heart but also make it sing.
Mike Gayle, author of Dinner for Two
The Attic Child is an impressive feat of imagination, and a great example of how one photograph can inspire a whole world. The interlinked stories of two children moved and upset me in all the right ways. This is important storytelling about issues of race and privilege and abuse, and a book that will stay with me for a long time.
Tracy Chevalier, author of A Single Thread