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Against the vividly described background of 1980s rural Kent, this moving portrait of a father-son relationship shifts effortlessly between evoking utterly convincingly the terrors and joys of adolescence and the complicated pleasure and pain of becoming an adult. Ellis is obsessed by the spiders that inhabit the crumbling house where he lives with his dad, his older sister and Great-aunt Mafi - and also by a need to find out more about his mother, whose death overshadows the family's otherwise happy existence. He is a sensitive soul; awkward and out of place most of the time but funny, too, and with an embarrassing habit of speaking his thoughts aloud, whatever the company. From early attempts at relationships, to unskilled jobs, flatshares and drug-addled nights on the beach, Ellis muddles his way towards adulthood. What endures is the strength of his bond with his dad, Denny, and his affectionate relationship with his intrepid sister, who turns up whenever he needs her - a new boyfriend in tow every time. The family banter is Ellis's lifeline and a counterpoint to the constant heartache of his desire to know something - anything - about his mother.
Meanwhile Denny, an ex-Merchant Navy man, bottles up his grief at the loss of his wife, refusing to talk about her.
Tom Connolly is a film maker and screenwriter. The Spider Truces is his first novel. He lives in a remote corner of the Rother Valley, in East Sussex.