THE LONG-HAIRED BOY by Christopher Matthew


Email this review


A rather thickset but stalwart tale about the physical and spiritual rehabilitation of an RAF hero, horribly burned during an airfight in 1940. Hugh Fleming, only son of a self-sacrificing middle-class couple who indulge him and pay for his high-life at Eton and Cambridge, grows up to be unusually handsome, charming, and somewhat of a snob. But now Hugh is hideously deformed in face and hands; and his life is a round of hospitals, convalescent homes, and operating theaters--where bluff plastic surgeon Dr. Meikle continues a series of difficult and painful skin transplants. Even worse than the pain, however, are the embarrassed and pitying glances of his friends, the shocked stares of strangers. His fiancÉe bolts from the hospital room; a prostitute is fascinated by her first ""cripple."" Still, Hugh's near-suicidal depression will gradually lift, thanks to the courage of some fellow casualities and to a barrage of lectures from those who love him enough to scold him endlessly: Dr. Meikle, sister Susan, actress Joan, and plumpishly plain Margery Maybury all fire away with both barrels--shape up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, think of others for a change, etc. Indeed Hugh does so, marrying Margery and planning to go back to flying when he can--because, in spite of danger, he must take the responsibility for his own life. ""After all, isn't that what being a man is all about."" For those willing to endure the pounding, enervating sermons that punctuate poor Hugh's story throughout--some intriguing medical bits and a grimly arresting basic situation.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum