In a sleepy fishing village in 1930s Barbados, nine-year-old G. leads a life of quiet mischief. While the village lies tranquil in the shadow of its English landlord, Mr Creighton, and his towering house on the hill, G. makes his own fun, crab catching, teasing preachers, and playing among the pumpkin vines. Yet from this world of boyish pursuits, the precocious G. finds himself slowly awakening to strange goings-on in adult society. All around him, sudden bursts of violence-a devastating flood on the morning of his birthday; the headmaster unduly flogging his schoolmates on Empire day-hint at a brutality and destruction lurking beneath the apparently peaceful order things.
As the mounting wrongs of the present drive the villagers to rise up against Mr Creighton, the fissures in the façade of his Barbadian 'little England' begin to crack open, laying bare the central, bruising secret at the heart of their shared past. And as the world he knows crumbles before his eyes, G. is spurred ever closer to a life-changing decision, to secure his own freedom as he moves into adulthood.
Poetic, unsettling, this classic coming-of-age novel is a story of tragic innocence, as a poor village boy comes to consciousness amid the collapse of colonial rule in mid-century Barbados.