Supporting Cast by Kit de Waal: The bit parts have their day

The novelist fleshes out minor characters from previous works in a collection of stories

Kit de Waal: this book doesn’t quite have the pulling power of her novels. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty

Kit de Waal: this book doesn’t quite have the pulling power of her novels. Photograph: David Levenson/Getty

In an interview in these pages in 2016, Kit de Waal was asked if she “saw” her characters in her mind’s eye. “Oh, God. Totally,” she replied. “Every character in Leon has got a back story that I’ve written on my computer.” She wasn’t exaggerating. Her latest book, Supporting Cast, is a collection of stories, or more accurately character sketches, of peripheral characters from her first two novels, My Name Is Leon and The Trick to Time.

Of the 22 characters depicted here, some are easily recognisable, others less so. We meet Leon’s absent mother, Carol Rycroft, and later his father, Byron Francis. We also get an insight into what became of his brother, Jake. From The Trick to Time, three MacNaughtons – William, Cornelia and Margaret – each make an appearance, as does Karl, Mona’s German neighbour, and her friend, Gayle. Others are harder to pin down, such as Edith Paisley-Jones, a woman who appears for but a moment in My Name Is Leon but whose inner psyche is fleshed out in Supporting Cast.

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