Tom Bedlam: Book summary and reviews of Tom Bedlam by George Hagen

Tom Bedlam

A Novel

by George Hagen

Tom Bedlam
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2007
    464 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Born in a shabby tenement in Victorian London, young Tom Bedlam is employed stoking the furnaces in a massive porcelain factory; he is son to a father he has never met, and sibling to a baby who vanished at birth. But in spite of these disadvantages, he is a positive spirit, cunning in his pursuit of love, unflinchingly loyal to his friends, and possessed of a deep, passionate soul. More than anything, he wishes to bring the loose strands of his estranged family together.

After Tom’s mother dies, a mysterious family benefactor appears who offers to pay for the boy’s education. For a factory urchin this is good luck indeed, and Tom is whisked away to an exclusive private boarding school called Hammer Hall. The school is a crucible of variously privileged, predatory, meek, and noble boys, and although Tom gathers crucial clues there about his lost brother, he finds himself caught between warring forces and makes a Faustian pact that will haunt his adult life.

As Tom becomes a man, his quest assumes grander proportions, a search for his lost innocence but an attempt to create the family he dreamed of in childhood. His experiences will challenge his decency and force him to weigh his character against the pitfalls of loyalty, patriotism, love, and familial duty.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Hagen's prose is surefooted, regardless of which continent, ocean or war his characters encounter. A few lulls pockmark this hefty book, but Tom is a sturdy protagonist and a magnificent relic from a world far gone." - PW.

"Spread over the course of 50 years, shot through with humor, and populated with a cast of eccentric charmers, Tom's personal odyssey reflects the dramatic alterations of both an individual and a society in flux." - Booklist.

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Author Information

George Hagen Author Biography

georgehagen.com

George Hagen was born in 1958 in Harare, Zimbabwe. His parents are from South Africa, and, like the itinerant family described in his novel, The Laments, they couldn't stay put anywhere. By 1964 he was living in the suburbs of London, and five years later moved to Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

He graduated from New York University with a BFA in Film, and began working as a screenwriter while performing a host of different jobs-theater doorman, carpenter, word processor, cartoonist, executive secretary and freelance journalist.

After five years in Los Angeles, enduring earthquakes, riots as well as the subtler indignities of being a writer in Hollywood, he moved with his family back to New York City and started writing magazine essays and novels.

He published his first novel, The Laments, in...

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