(The Lock was first published as an ebook (2001) and then a paperback (2003) by Smaller Smaller Sky Books -- pbk ISBN 1-903100-09-7, 284pp).
What the critics said
"Original, illuminating and absorbing." John Bayley, author of Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
"The Lock blends a love story with philosophical drama to produce an intriguing debut...Egerton writes well about infidelity, ignorance and rivalries that can threaten family life...He is equally good when it comes to describing place...a vivid impression of contemporary Oxford. Some fine and sensuous writing, meanwhile, makes it all nicely diverting." Sophie Ratcliffe, The Times
"The Lock is a classic Oxford novel getting its feet wet in the mainstream of campus fiction, tiptoeing through dirty realism wearing some very traditional wellies. This is campus drama reinvented as soap opera, with a soap's eye for detail and a realist's relish in the naming of everyday things...Egerton builds betrayal carefully, the characters, like real people, contemplate fallback positions even as they present each other with emotional absolutes." Michael Carlson, The Spectator
"Impressive in its sensitive analysis...[Egerton] brings to life that fundamental trade-off between selfish forbidden pleasure and its painful repercussions to others." Kimberley Tan, Cherwell
The Lock reached the finals of the Independent e-Book Awards at the Santa Barbara Digital Literature Festival in November 2002
What is The Lock about?
Gerald, an Oxford don, is having an affair with one of his graduate students. No one could be more surprised by this turn of events than Gerald himself. But to begin with it is a welcome distraction from the things that have been lowering his self-esteem. His career has levelled off, his wife Elizabeth has established herself as a successful charity administrator, and his favourite daughter Alison has given up a place at Cambridge to live in a truck with her boyfriend.
The novel explores the ways in which Elizabeth and their two daughters are affected by the affair, both before and after they have found out. At first they blame his secretive, odd behaviour on themselves (Elizabeth for neglecting him, Alison for leaving home). Subsequently, they are left to deal with the consequences of his betrayal of trust.
The novel also examines Gerald's relationship with his oldest friend, Jonathan, and how they cope with their mixed feelings once Jonathan has discovered the affair.
In the second part of the book, Elizabeth learns how to resolve her emotional conflicts and unexpectedly begins to fall in love with someone new.
Partly a satire of a closed society, partly a morality tale, The Lock is also a sympathetic psychological portrait of a family caught up in a highly contemporary crisis.
"The Lock is for those who enjoy a superbly evoked picture of real people in a real setting." Will Wain, publisher