Tom has always known exactly the person he is going to be. A successful footballer. A man others look up to. Now, though, the bright future he imagined for himself is threatened.
The Premier League academy of his boyhood has let him go. At nineteen, Tom finds himself playing for a tiny club in a town he has never heard of. But as he navigates his isolation and his desperate need for recognition, a sudden and thrilling encounter offers him the promise of an escape, and Tom is forced to question whether he can reconcile his supressed desires with his dreams of success.
Leah, the captain’s wife, has almost forgotten the dreams she once held, for her career, her marriage. Moving again, as her husband is transferred from club to club, she is lost, disillusioned with where life has taken her.
A Natural delves into the heart of a professional football club: the pressure, the loneliness, the threat of scandal, the fragility of the body and the struggle, on and off the pitch, with conforming to the person that everybody else expects you to be.
"Supremely accomplished and moving… A masterful performance… This is a gripping, mature, important novel. It would be a travesty if it doesn’t win prizes."
"A layered and subtle exploration of masculinity, fear and desire, A Natural is as good a novel as I’ve read in years. The poignancy of Ross Raisin’s characters are equalled only by the brilliance of his writing."
"Admirable … genius … amazing… vertiginous."
"A Natural is a brilliant, deft and moving coming of age novel about the nature of masculinity and sexuality set against the backdrop of sport. Sensitively and beautifully drawn, it confirms Ross Raisin as a superb writer."
"Most novels about football aren’t really about football… They tend to avoid describing the game itself, with its strange mixture of pelting energy and exquisite boredom. Instead they shunt it into the background or repackage it as a metaphor, allowing the simple whacking of a ball into the net to be used as a way of writing about far less tangible goals. Ross Raisin’s latest novel is refreshingly different. Following the fortunes of two lower-league footballers, it is a bold attempt to capture sport in the raw… pitch-perfect."