Colin McAdam's novel follows two teenage boys pining over the same girl when one boy loses control of his urges.

Colin McAdam

Colin McAdam's second novel takes place at St. Ebury, an elite Ottawa boarding school. It's a place of privilege and hollow rules, of newly minted "traditions" and the barely restrained animal instincts of the boys. A handful of girls are also in attendance, among them Fall, a beautiful and elusive figure who becomes the object of fascination for many of the male students, including Noel, a smart, intensely idiosyncratic young man. But Fall ends up dating his roommate Julius, the charismatic son of the American ambassador, whom Noel also fixates upon. Amidst a heady mix of hormones and delusional impulses, Noel gradually loses control of his obsessions.

Told from the very different perspectives of Julius and Noel, Fall is a psychologically acute and relentless literary thriller of the first order. (From Penguin Random House)

From the book

That was not a school with pipes and dons and tweeds.

It wasn't a place where people spoke like people don't speak.

It wasn't in the Highlands of Scotland or the hills of New England.

It was a place of traditions but the traditions weren't old.

Like most private schools it was part fantasy, part reality, and therefore all reality. A place where stories happened, not fables, where there was learning, not lessons, and no one came away with memories of neat moral episodes. I came away with memories.

There were too many contradictions for there to have been any sense, and my life has always been so. We were boys who wore suits, monkeys with manners. We didn't have parents but were treated like babies. We were left on our own but had hundreds of rules to abide.

We were eighteen years old, as grown-up as we could be.

My memories are twitching like morning in the city.

From Fall by Colin McAdam ©2009. Published by Penguin Random House.